KikiGirl Gaze Tokyo
18 May 2018
Kiki is a graphic designer from the west of China, Qinghai Province and has been living in Tokyo for more than 2 years now.
Hi, Kiki. Please introduce yourself.
Kiki: My name is Kiki Zhang. Right now I am a designer at a design studio in Tokyo.
Why did you come to work in Japan?
Kiki: Japan has this ineffable charm that deeply attracts me. I am also an adventurous person. I really enjoy trying out different ways of living and like to explore and exploit self-potentials.
How long had you worked in the design industry in China before coming to Japan?
Kiki: Since elementary school. Haha. For example, I remember the wall in my grandmother’s house was unbearably ugly and I couldn’t help myself from wanting to design a new look for it. Even though my grandmother did not really allow me to paint over that hideous wall, I would still act on my ideas and draw them on paper.
I also assigned myself a monthly project back in the day, such as going to a book store, researching different things like perfume, cocktails, etc., and then illustrating the objects. Now when I recall those times, it was actually quite challenging for an elementary school student, haha.
When I was in middle school, I designed a logo for the coolest hair salon in town at the time, and from then on, I never needed to pay for any sort of hairdo-related services anymore. After college graduation, I worked as an editor for a magazine and street fashion website. After that, I worked on brand strategy/marketing in a design department and was doing design and taking photographs in my own free time. So in short, I am a non-academically-trained designer who got hired by a Tokyo design studio, haha.
Seems like you were familiar with the concept of design ever since you were a child. At this point in your life, what is “design” to you?
Kiki: Design is the process of finding a problem, solving it, and lastly improving upon the solution. But I prefer design that focuses on mentality and touches human emotion; design that is not only highly functional, but also has an effect on human emotions and spirits.
After your hands-on experience in Tokyo’s design industry, have you found that different countries tend to have different aesthetics?
Kiki: I like to travel, and I have a habit of collecting countless posters and brochures from cities I visit. Of course the aesthetics of each country varied drastically due to their respective geographical environments and cultures.
However, similarities are still inevitable because we are all humans after all, and that results in the certain degree of likeness in terms of our aesthetics. As the Internet is developing, people from different places are able to connect with others and that sparks the clashing of separate cultures, which can create a whole new form of aesthetic consciousness. Modern aesthetics are constantly changing.
What is “beauty” to you?
Kiki: This question is too difficult, haha.
Balance. I follow the patterns and natural qualities of all things, and I have always believed that every matter has its own value – I’m likely to be drawn to subjects that are deemed “useless.”
How would you define the “beauty of the human being?”
Kiki: Wow, this is hard too. The balance between the human’s flesh and mind, I would say.
It’s the ability to physically jump out of our existential structures and try to observe our body, to not be repressed by public aesthetics, and to fully accept that what nature has given to us is something all-together spiritual and holy. To me, when you turn something you regard as a flaw into your a characteristic that positively defines you, that’s what I call beauty.
Mentally, it’s extremely important to know how to get along with our own selves. If the balance of mentality is achieved, beauty will inevitably appear.
Who or what has impacted this perspective of yours?
Kiki: I think it would be my mother. She is a woman with great sense; perfume and music are her favourites. She was once the vocalist of a band when she was younger. Now, taking care of my grandpa is her priority, but she still uses perfume and listens to music.