Tales of Gods and Heroes

Tomoko Miho, poster, 65 Bridges to New York, 1967.

Whenever Noreen and I have attended a conference together, or spoken together (which is rare), she is surrounded by a coterie of fans. Of course, I’m typically waving and shouting, “I’m over here!” She’s always excited to meet new people, but isn’t so good at hearing compliments. Hard to believe, but she’s rather humble. The one compliment she has the most trouble accepting is when a young Asian woman tells her that she is her hero. This happens often. If I were a young Asian woman, I would say the same thing. I understand the issue, being someone’s hero, or ideal is a lot of pressure. One wrong word, and, bam, it’s over.

I remind Noreen that she said the same thing when she was starting out to Tomoko Miho. Whenever I see the movie, Two For the Road, with Audrey Hepburn, I think about Tomoko Miho. In the 1960s, she and the remarkable Jim Miho spent half a year touring Europe in a silver Porsche. They visited designers and must have been the chicest people in every restaurant or little village.

Miho’s work is lucid, minimal, true to international style modernism, and speaks with clarity. But it also allows for spontaneity and the unexpected. In her words, she “Joins space and substance. It is that harmony that creates the ringing clarity of statement that we sense as an experience, as a meaningful whole, as a oneness-as good design.” And, of course, she was Noreen’s hero.

Tomoko Miho, poster Great Architecture in Chicago, 1967.

Tomoko Miho, early 1950s

Tomoko Miho, poster and symbol, Omniplan Architects, Dallas, 1971

Tomoko Miho, poster for Champion Paper, 1971

Tomoko Miho, poster, National Council of Architectural Registration Boards, 1978.

Tomoko Miho, poster National Air and Space Museum, 1976

Tomoko Miho, packaging design, Neiman Marcus, 1972

Audrey Hepburn, Two for the Road, 1967

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2 Responses to “Tales of Gods and Heroes”

  1. debbie Says:

    Wonderful article Sean.
    I will remember to embarrass N next time I see her.
    x’s

  2. Noreen Morioka Says:

    Sean:

    How cool that you highlighted the real Asian woman designer! She is totally my hero! Thanks for the kind words, but I suck compared to you and Tomoko.
    N