Kohei Sugiura and Kirti Trivedi: Capturing Asia as Transnational in Four Dimensions

Megha Rajguru, Yasuko Suga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Kohei Sugiura, a leading Japanese graphic designer, describes in his book, Nihon no Katachi, Asia no Katachi (Japanese Forms, Asian Forms, 1994), his experience of overlapping a decorative pattern he saw at a temple of Tibet Buddhism in Bhutan with a kite picture he was looking at in a catalogue. It was a shocking discovery to him to find such similarity beyond geographical borders. Since then, he has been interested in the multilayered symbolism in the Asian countries, and introduced to the Japanese audience the Asian traditional culture through innovative exhibitions and exhibition catalogues.

At the same time, Sugiura had been active in India since 1981. He was first invited to the Industrial Design Centre (IDC), Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Mumbai under the aegis of UNESCO’s Development Programme as a Visual Communications expert to advise on design pedagogy. He delivered lectures on “Process of Development in Drawing” and “Unique Examples of Picture Books in Japan”, workshops on designing books for children and Japanese origami in 1981 and 1983. Kirti Trivedi, a design tutor at IIT visited Sugiura in Japan as a UNESCO Fellow in 1981 and returned to Mumbai with plans to further the Visual Communications Programme.

More than three decades on, these relationships continue and Trivedi and Sugiura continue to collaborate, forming a pan-Asian creative alliance. While in the 1980s this relationship was built in the context of Indian design development, fuelled by international development agendas of helping developing countries improve industrial design and trade, contemporary alliances show individual agents at play. Both designers reflect on their own traditional art forms and produce a narrative of similarities, of deep-rooted and established historic links that formulate an ‘Asian’ present. The paper explores this contemporary pan-Asianism in action based upon two local traditional design cultures globally connected.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)132-140
Number of pages9
JournalThe Journal of the Asian Conference of Design History and Theory
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2017


  • Kohei Sugiura
  • Kirti Trivedi
  • Design Education
  • pan-Asianism


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