KOUSHIKI – Interview with designer Atsushi Kawakami

Atsushi Kawakami - Koushiki - Japanese Graphic Designer

Koushiki is the graphic design studio of Atsushi Kawakami. After graduating from college and working for a mail-order company, Kawakami decided to establish his own office in 2007. “Thinking is just as important as designing,” says Kawakami, who’s design philosophy is rooted in thought process. In fact, the name his studio means “formula” in English. By carefully thinking about what is essential, and distilling concepts to their most crystallized form, Kawakami creates simplistic yet relatable designs that capture the essence of his clients.

A calendar with sweet rewards on holidays. The typical weekly layout was deconstructed to put more emphasis on the day rather than the week. Project for the Dai Nippon Printing company. Also see calendar cover image at the top of this page.

Who are you?

My name is Atsushi Kawakami, a designer. I design corporate logos & branding tools, websites, and smartphone applications.

Paburi Logomark. Over 40 publishers use Paburi as a distribution platform of digital content.
The form of the book was incorporated into the logo and turned into a character that would close the gap between book and user. Different facial expressions can be assigned to different genres.
the Paburi Website was designed, not to highlight digital books as new media but, to present the book as protagonist.


When I was a student, I fell in love with beautiful CD cover designs. This is when I became interested in design. Creating cover design and original merchandises for indie labels was my starting point as a designer.

Logomark for La Tierra, a beauty salon. The shop’s symbol of an olive was incorporated into the design, along with the symbol for infinity. The symmetrical design communicates harmony and balance.

A Discovery

I recently found an amazingly delicious deli near my home.

A new years card – A play on the zodiac sign “Tiger” for 2010
Roppongi Designers Flag 2010. The first character of Roppongi (ロ) was used as a motif to portray the artsy, tree-lined street of Roppongi.


I work in Tokyo, Japan. Tokyo is a great place to be, because you have access to everything unique and beautiful from all over Japan.

A gigantic “pollution bear” created from pencil marks.

Your tools


My design tools are very simple, just a 105x148mm plain notebook (Japanese paperback book) and Illustrator. As for notebook, I use it for all of my design work because I don’t have to worry about recharging batteries and it’s easy to carry around. When I write down ideas or draw sketches, I take photos with my smartphone and save it on Evernote. I use MD (Midori) notebook, which has great paper quality, writes well, and the spine allows the pages to open completely flat making it easy to write.

‘That’s one small stick for a man, one giant nuisance for mankind.’ A poster created as part of Osaka’s “Good Manners Poster Exhibition” asking people to not smoke as they walk.


People often think simple design is easy.



Koushiki Sans Font: http://font.koushiki.org

I created Koushiki Sans Font, initially for my own projects. But I wanted others to use it as well, so made it available on my website. I thought, wouldn’t it be nice if my friends used it, but surprisingly I received so many download requests from all over the world I inquire about its usage when downloading, and it’s always fun to read them. From professionals to art students, for corporate graphics and logo marks, websites, videos, signages to school projects and portfolios. It’s an amazing feeling to see strangers using my font in unknown places.

A Story

I was once approached by a well-known global computer company to help strengthen Japan’s creative as a creative partner. Unfortunately the project didn’t pan out, but I was very honoured to be approached by a company I admire.

Logo design: This is “Neguse Sama,” or bedhead god.
The deity-like figure Neguse Sama was created as a logomark for record label Neguse Group.

atsushi-kawakami-koushiki-neguse-sama_02 atsushi-kawakami-koushiki-neguse-sama_02 atsushi-kawakami-koushiki-neguse-sama_02


Atsushi Kawakami - Koushiki - Graphic DesignWith the development of technology, I think the boundary between on-screen and print media will eventually disappear. Design skills for print media will be applied to web and app designs, and vice versa, on-screen design techniques will be essential for print design.

Big Arigato-gozaimasu to Atsushi Kawakami for the interview!

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