Born in Nara, Japan in 1930, Ikko Tanaka created a style of graphic design that fused modernism principles and aesthetics with the Japanese tradition. As a child he studied art and as a young adult he was involved in modern drama and theatrical study groups. In 1963 he formed Tanaka Design Studio where he worked for corporations such as Mazda, Hanae Mori, Issey Miyake and the International Garden and Greenery Exhibition.
He is most well-known for his poster design for the Nihon Buyo performance by the Asian Performing Arts Institute. The poster shows his fusion of modernist sensibilities and traditional Japanese culture through the simplified illustration of a geisha. He designed, among other things, posters, logos, packaging and annual reports. Among his wide ranging work, his designs for the symbols for the Expo ’85 in Tsukuba and the World City Expo Tokyo ’96 garnered much attention. He died in 2002 of a heart attack at the age of 71.
In 2016, Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake release a series of products featuring motifs of works by Ikko Tanaka. Ikko Tanaka and Issey Miyake met in the 1960s and maintained a deep connection and enduring friendship. It is with respect to Tanaka’s works and a gratitude to subsequent ideas that led to the birth of this series.