027 A viewpoint that calls for “design with a place in society”

On December 18, 2015, the Organizing Committee released an investigation review report confirming the fact there was wrong-doing carried out by Mr. Kazumasa Nagai and the two gentlemen, Mr. Takuma Takasaki and Mr. Hidetoshi Maki, who held key positions in the Organizing Committee. More than a month has gone by since this was widely reported in various newspapers, television and internet news sites. It was a massive affair that turned into a major social issue, yet the actual players who were in the thick of things, the companies they belonged to, related design organizations and educational institutions, the very people and organizations that were accountable for the fiasco, have doggedly maintained their silence, refusing to take responsibility. Not only are they keeping mum, but unperturbedly continue to promote themselves and their work as if nothing had happened. I have been quietly observing the state of things, this tolerance of blatantly unethical behavior. This is a world that ignores the truth, an eerie world devoid of remorse and self-reflection that is turning into hell—a bottomless pit, reminding us of the problems regarding plans for the new National Stadium for the 2020 Olympic Games.

We have turned the page into a new year. It is 2016 and I have been continuing to write. Yet every time I tried to update my blog, I was prevented to do so by some deterrent force. I found myself unable to post my thoughts. Mind you, this deterrent was not any pressure from outside. It was the result of my own will. The reason why I did not update my blog, or rather, I could not update my blog, was not because I was disappointed by the false report published by the Organizing Committee, a declaration of containment of the problem, per se. I hadn’t given up. Just because the Organizing Committee revealed its investigation report, it was just a document, “official” by name only, filled with lies and false statements. In my opinion, the problem has not been solved and the issue has not been closed. Far from it. Because the major players and all the people who were involved in the case are keeping their silence on the emblem issue only, that is causing further skepticism, worsening the situation regarding design in the whole. We are hardly close to containment of the emblem issue. In fact, we are in the midst of a hopeless situation. Yet, for a month, I could not reveal my thoughts and reflections in real-time, on a timely basis. I was plagued by guilt, frustrated that I was not fulfilling my responsibility. It has been an agonizing time for me.

The selection process for a new Olympic emblem is underway. In order for me to continue writing this blog, I came to the decision that I should reconsider my perspectives and then move on to the next stage of consideration. I actually needed this time for deep meditation, in order to restructure my policies and procedures for further consideration.

Up to the end of December, the main mission and role for my blog was to record the facts I experienced as a judge on the selection committee—it was my way of fulfilling my responsibilities. Looking back, all things have now become public knowledge. The contents of the reports that the Organizing Committee have officially made public, starting with the press conference held on August 5, 2015, have all proved to be falsified accounts—facts have been freely rewritten to cover up wrongdoings and blunders for the convenience of the Organizing Committee. They were accounts of pure fiction, completely different from the actual facts that I witnessed as a judge on the selection committee. The blog took on the role of providing information for comparison of facts, for verification purpose. However, there were time constraints, as the blog progressed concurrently as things unfolded. In addition to the physical constraints, I was limited by my personal capabilities; thus I find that there are some areas I have left unclear.

My blog is moving on to the next phase. Instead of observations based on personal experience, I intend to shift the mode of discussion to a more objective discussion based on an objective viewpoint; and cover a wider scope not limited to the “Olympic emblem issue” only. I want to draw a sharp line between the selfish set of values that places designers first—which flourishes in part of the graphic design industry—based on the very limited viewpoint that can be perhaps be described as “design for design’s sake”. I assume this is one of the main causes for and lies at the root of the emblem issue. Instead, I propose to engage in a comparative discussion based on a broader viewpoint, the more pragmatic and down-to-earth “design with a place in society”.

Keiko Hirano

Keiko Hirano:
Designer/Visioner, Executive Director of Communication Design Laboratory
Hirano served on the panel that chose the official emblem for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, which was ultimately withdrawn.