The Sōzō-sei Project
‘Sōzō-sei’ (directly translated to ‘creativity’ in Japanese) is a multi-outcome project that explores visual elements in Japanese Minimalism, the phenomenon of popularized “kawaii” mascots, and the unique characteristics of Japanese typography — popularized visual components seen across many contemporary approaches in Japanese graphic design.
All outcomes are tied together by Sōzōru; a fox mascot with a playful personality designed from the visual elements explored. The project ultimately looks to highlight popular case studies of Japanese design and push Australian creatives to take on foreign inspiration for their works.
As the primary source for information on the topics explored across all the outcomes, the publication encompasses various visual elements in their flat graphic formats. Prime examples of cute mascot designs, dynamic Japanese typography and use of Minimalistic shapes can be seen throughout each segment giving visual context to the textual content.
Format-wise, a compact A5 booklet was chosen for the context of handout location (Federation Square booths during the annual Japanese Summer festival) and with Japanese Washi paper as the material to fit the cultural theme of the project. Overall, the overarching intention of this outcome is to inform and contextualize the design elements in all outcomes of the project.
Interactive VR World
An interactive VR world using the visual elements explored in the publication in their 3D formats. An example of this would be the use of Kanji letters as visual forms in the environment; The Kanji letter of ‘leaf’ can be seen spread throughout the branches of the swaying trees, while the letter of ‘water’ is spread throughout the small lake. In the publication outcome, these letter forms are simply represented from a top-down view and often limited by it. This outcome showcases how visual styles are not limited by their mediums, often capable of expanding into less traditional formats.
Floral and architectural assets were modeled with popular Japanese references in both art and cultural monuments. These helped keep the world contextualized without the need of clear informative textual clutter.
Promotional Mascot Keychains
Handed out as promotional souvenirs, Sōzōru keychains bring the 2D design of the mascot into a tangible 3D reminder of the project. Keychains are an effective method of generating visual interest for a campaign or project, especially in the niche crowded environment of the Japanese Summer festival.
QR codes supplied behind the tag in the chain bring people to the other outcomes, serving also as a functional asset to the project. This is especially helpful for those who seek to access the publication outcome on their phone, or even to download the VR world when they get home.
With Melbourne’s Japanese Summer festival taking place in Federation Square, it was appropriate to place the exhibition piece at this location considering the outlined project campaign plan. With promotional outcomes being distributed throughout this event, the large-scale sculpture of Sōzōru would serve to draw attention to the project. This is especially effective considering the abundance of mascots seen across campaigns and projects in Australia, granting a layer of interest for the local audience.