Posts Tagged ‘Noreen Morioka’

The World is a Circle

Monday, May 31st, 2010

Yusaku Kamekura, Tokyo Olympics, 1964


Last week, we started working with a new client who demanded that Noreen be at every meeting. Now, I’m used to this. When I come into a meeting and throw a chair, or urinate in the corner, clients are disturbed. In reality, we’re both quite polite and friendly. The only time I ever became angry during a meeting was 15 years ago, when a young architect stopped me and said, “I’d like to give you some basic rules about composition.” To which, I replied, “I don’t know how to respond to that… Noreen?”

Initially, some clients do a little racial profiling. Noreen is Asian and a woman, so she must be mysterious, exotic, and deeply creative. I’m a WASP and a man, so I must be logical, dull, and handle the bookkeeping. At AdamsMorioka, our roles are well defined; Noreen is in charge of all client relations, I’m in charge of creative. This doesn’t mean that we don’t voice opinions, or have debates about creative or business issues. In the end, I have final call on a creative issue; Noreen has final call on a client issue.

We do, however, have divergent cultural backgrounds, and this makes the work better. We often design the poster when we do a speaking engagement. I’ve had the most fun designing posters that speak to this juxtaposition of Asian and Western influences. I designed a poster for a DSVC lecture takes one of my favorite posters by Yusaku Kamekura and re-purposes it. I know the difference between an homage and piracy. I credit Kamekura on the poster.

Yusaku Kamekura is one of the “first generation” of great Japanese designers. In 1951 he helped establish the Japan Advertising Arts Club, and took part in the ‘Graphic ’55’ exhibition with Paul Rand and other international designers. In 1978, he became chairman of the Japan Graphic Designers Association. This is a big deal. Noreen mentions often that she’d like to be invited by JAGDA to be a member (note to JGDA members reading this). His posters merge Swiss modernism with a Japanese aesthetic and usage of space. The primary 1964 Tokyo Olympics poster is magnificent in its simplicity.  Kamekura uses the golden section and repeating circles to create harmony. On the surface, nothing could be more obvious: Japanese flag and Olympic rings. “And?” you may be asking, “So what? That’s too easy.” This is similar to someone looking at a Picasso and saying, “I could have drawn that.”  My response, “But you didn’t.”

AdamsMorioka, DSVC, 2001

Yusaku Kamekura, Tokyo Olympics, 1964

Yusaku Kamekura, Tokyo Olympics, 1964

Yusaku Kamekura, Nikon Mikron Binoculars, 1955

Yusaku Kamekura, Graphic ‘55 Exhibition, 1955

Yusaku Kamekura, Nikon SP, 1957

Yusaku Kamekura, Atomic Energy for Peaceful Industry, 1956

Reflections in Golden Eyeglasses

Friday, May 14th, 2010

Barbara Bel Geddes, Vertigo

I hate many things. First, I hate when someone is taking a photo of their friends or family and insists on standing back 20 feet, so as to get them head to toe in front of something like Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. However, that’s another post. I also hate going to the eye doctor and then are pushed into their little eyewear shop. I am not particularly interested in the Chanel frames with rhinestones, or very narrow black eyeglasses that me look like a very serious European designer. I find most of my glasses at a great store in Pasadena, Old Focals. These glasses last a long time, and my face doesn’t work with new cool glasses.

How can you go wrong when you follow the style of President Kennedy, or James Dean? I recently bought a pair of Deacon glasses at Oliver Peoples. Yes, they are new, but this style worked for Cary Grant as his hair turned white. I may not be Cary Grant, but my hair is turning white too.

The same holds true for women. Noreen has a beautiful pair of cat glasses and they look very snappy. I don’t understand why more women don’t buy glasses like Barbara Bel Geddes’ glasses in Vertigo*. They are so clever and classic. Audrey Hepburn’s sunglasses in Two for the Road (1967) may look like alien eyes, but they are the chicest sunglasses ever designed.

On the subject of Vertigo, what the hell was wrong with Jimmy Stewart? He has a choice between sensible and perky Barbara Bel Geddes (Norman Bel Geddes’ daughter), or insane with odd eyebrows Kim Novak. Go figure.

President John F. Kennedy

Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean, 1956

Truman Capote, Irving Penn photographer

Cary Grant, GQ magazine

Audrey Hepburn, Two for the Road, 1967

Audrey Hepburn, Two for the Road, 1967

Kim Novak, what is with the eyebrows?

Deacon, Oliver Peoples

I Yam What I Yam

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

my chest and clipper ship tattoo (not really)

I’m fairly vanilla, okay, very vanilla. I don’t have any part of my body pierced, or tattooed. My teeth are all white, and I stay away from rhinestones on my nails. I have, however, always loved nautical tattoos. If I were ever to get a tattoo, it would be of a clipper ship or anchor. Norman Collins, also known as Sailor Jerry was the master of nautical tattoos.  It seems appropriate to only have a tattoo that a sailor would have, like Popeye. If I had a clipper ship on my chest I would walk around shirtless, smoke a corn cob pipe, and tell tall tales of the sea.

A Sailor Jerry original

a Sailor Jerry anchor

Sailors (not me)

Noreen Morioka, me and my hidden tattoos, Marian Bantjes

From the Academy Awards to Tuna Fish

Monday, March 8th, 2010

Sean Adams, Noreen Morioka, 82nd Annual Academy Awards

I think humility is a virtue. I do my best to practice it.  I feel uncomfortable with praise, and am usually far more impressed with the people I meet than I am with myself. This post, however, may seem to lack that humility. I’ve been trying to figure out how I could recap last night without seeming like a total douche. But that’s probably unavoidable, so I’ll pass on some highlights.

Last night we went to The Academy Awards. The Academy was extremely generous and made sure we had great seats and felt wonderfully welcome. My biggest concern before going was shallow at best. Would I fit into my tuxedo? I took it to Armani and asked them if I should let the pants out. They said no. I didn’t want to wear Spanx. Fortunately, it fit and I didn’t need the Spanx.

Driving along an empty Hollywood Blvd. was surreal, at best, weaving through barricades, with crowds of people with cameras watching from both sides. Like everywhere in Los Angeles, there was a valet. Once we passed through the metal detectors without incident, none of us were packing, we were in the middle of the official “Red Carpet” area. I expected the people in bleachers and press, but it was that times ten. The press was three people deep with television cameras and interviewers. The bleachers were filled with people shouting and taking photos. This was far beyond a premier at Sundance. Who knew?

The nominees and presenters were in the first few rows and like an AIGA Gala, were all out of their seats talking to each other at every commercial break. The announcer began the countdown at 30 seconds and then said “5 seconds to the world.” I liked that. It was a good way to start.

I did my best to stay on top of things on Twitter, but it’s hard to be witty when you are trying to type and not have everyone around us say, “Well! How rude.” This show is a machine. The efficiency was incredible. Within the three minutes of commercial breaks, a crew of stagehands in tuxedos changed the sets completely. Presenters in dresses were helped down the stairs that looked perilous for presenters with high heels and lots of fabric. Most impressively, at the end of a commercial break when the announcer said, “30 seconds,” people got back in their seats. Try that at an AIGA Gala. Obviously, designers need to be commanded to sit down in 30 seconds over a loudspeaker too.

Now the other trivial issue in the back of my head was the valet. How were they going to return 2,000 people’s cars? Would we be there all night? And, I somehow lost my claim ticket. I’ve never done that in my entire life. Now in the most complicated valet situation possible, I lost it. Like the rest of the evening, though, it worked out beautifully. I told the valet, “It’s a Range Rover with an American flag sticker,” and in five minutes, they found it. Now real life kicked back in. Monday is an Art Center day, so I needed to prepare for class. I, also, didn’t want to eat at 10:30 at night, so we all passed on going out for dinner. At home, I had a bowl of tuna fish and 3 pretzels. Glamorous.

An empty Hollywood Blvd.

Crowds lining the street

Crowds unhappy it was just us

Security, valets

Noreen Morioka, Sean Adams, InJu Sturgeon

Sean and the logo

AMPAS ticket

Noreen and Michael at the bar

Michael demonstrating how he would look with Botox

The stage

Building your own prison

Friday, December 4th, 2009
Appleton Utopia promotion, AdamsMorioka, Noreen as the innocent farm girl

Appleton Utopia promotion, AdamsMorioka, Noreen as the innocent farm girl

We make our own prisons. For years, it bothered me when someone would meet me and say, “I love your work, you guys do that funny bright stuff.” The “I love your work” part was good, but the rest felt so small. In our minds, we play with ideas of pastiche, appropriation, irony, and media manipulation. The end product may incorporate complex theory, but it often appears bright and funny. So I’ve had to accept that we built this house. It’s like Marilyn Monroe wanting to be considered a serious actress, or The Beach Boys wanting serious consideration. Marilyn might have been a serious actress, but people wanted her to be what she appeared to be. Brian Wilson is an amazing and revolutionary musician, but the Beach Boys will always be fun and bubble-gum.

Years ago, Appleton Paper asked us to design a piece for their line, Utopia. The assignment was this: ask a hairstylist what his or her idea of a perfect life is. Then design a piece that reflects this. The answer we received was fairly expected, “I’d hang out by the pool at the Beverly Hills Hotel and have drinks,” or something along those lines. This seemed dull and expected to us. But if you dig a little deeper, the entire Hollywood myth is buried in that statement.

The Hollywood myth that we all know is this: a young innocent leaves the farm in Kansas and heads to Hollywood to become a star. She is soon discovered at the soda fountain at Schwabs and becomes a huge star. Awards follow, and then the diva-esque behavior sets in. Of course it all ends badly with substance abuse and rehab. This is a far more fun story to tell. In fact, it is the plot of Valley of the Dolls. We decided to tell the narrative visually. Budget constraints and a nod to Cindy Sherman, not excessive ego, thrust Noreen into the starring role. Of course, in the end, it’s the bright and funny stuff.

Appleton Utopia promotion, AdamsMorioka, stardom, swimming pools, and Cadillacs

Appleton Utopia promotion, AdamsMorioka, stardom, swimming pools, and Cadillacs

Appleton Utopia promotion, AdamsMorioka, diva behavior, rehab

Appleton Utopia promotion, AdamsMorioka, diva behavior, rehab

Patty Duke, Valley of the Dolls, 1967

Patty Duke, Valley of the Dolls, 1967

Appleton Utopia promotion, AdamsMorioka, Sean Adams on the road to ruin

Appleton Utopia promotion, AdamsMorioka

Appleton Utopia promotion, AdamsMorioka

Appleton Utopia promotion, AdamsMorioka