Beats Open Congress

Four men in traditional "hakama" sat motionless on mats of Visualogue Red. Three held small drums, one a flute. From darkness and silence the opening performance of the 20th Icograda Congress began, breaking first into drumbeats accompanied by "O-O-O-Oh"s and building to an unearthly crescendo of sound. All this aural excitement was bound tight by the piercing moans of the flute of "Noh-gaku" (Noh theater music) master Fujita, who rearranged an ancient song into this performance. Treated to this thrilling introduction to an event touted as a Visual Dialogue, the audience, so obviously now in Japan, where so many have looked for direction in design, and so many have now come for the first time, seemed pleasantly stunned-when music married visual communication design and merged into a dialogue of emotions. (MH)

Supporting Harmony

This Congress came together with the aid of a vast number of government, design and educational organizations. This was made perfectly clear by the titles of the five individuals who delivered formal greetings to the huge audience of the first event: Yoshio Inden, Deputy Mayor, City of Nagoya, who is also the president of International Design Center NAGOYA (IdcN); Makoto Nakajima, standing in for Minister Nakagawa of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry; Robert Peters, President of ICOGRADA; Aichi Prefecture Governor Masaaki Kanda and Nagoya Mayor Takehisa Matsubara. Among the other representatives of supporters joining these men on stage were Shobu Kudo, of the Nagoya Chamber of Commerce and Industries; Yoshio Kubo of the Department of Industry and Labor, Aichi Prefectural Government; Shintaro Oishi of the Japan Design Foundation; and Hikoharu Kure, president of the Japan Industrial Design Promotion Organization. All reminded the audience that Nagoya has been associated formally with design for a dozen years, but as the center of a prefecture that has led Japan in manufacturing for 26 years, has always depended on design. Both Inden and Peters noted that facing, elucidating and helping solve global issues from 9-11 to SARS, overpopulation to environmental pollution, are both the challenges and the motivation for the essence of design: contributing to the understanding among people everywhere. Enlivening the verbal greetings were visual presentations of Nagoya's rich heritage and nature and the history of ICOGRADA, highlighting themes we will cover here during these next few days: ethical guidelines, design education, tolerance and harmony. (MH)

Kouhei Sugiura (Japan)

A Shared Metaphor of Asian Designs

Kohei Sugiura, who himself looked as if he stepped out of another era, kicked off the ICOGRADA Congress with a spiritual-themed and exquisitely illustrated presentation on a mutual aspect of Asian culture. With words like "rebirth", "cosmic mountain", "tree of life" and "reverberation" Sugiura shared a framework which used as an example ancient Asian drums: the Pole drum, of ancient Chinese and Korean origin and the Flame drum from Japan. Using this metaphor Sugiura asked the audience to ponder the questions of what constitutes and makes quality information. Features of the drum were thoroughly outlined in order to present a context in which to later analyse the questions posed during the presentation, most importantly the significance of the drum beat being quite different from the concept of drumming in music today. Both drums have striking auditory and visual features which explain the deep layers of information. Using colour, symbols sound and form the history of the cosmos is explained aurally and visually. In answering the question "What is design?" Suguiura states that as designers in a global, cyber culture in order to design quality information experiences, we need to "weave information" based on clues of past history, human behaviour and all its cultural symbols.@(RZ)

Writer:Kosuke Ikehata/Norimitsu Korekata/Junko Sakamoto/Nobuko Shimuta/Naoko Hasegawa/Osamu Hisanaga/Sakurako Muto/Naho Yoshioka/Maggie Hohle/Nicole Rechia/Trysh Wahlig/Gitte Waldman/Robert Zolna
Photographer:Yoshimitsu Asai/Yasuhiko Katsuta/Fumihiko Mizutani