Nagaoka Institute of DesignNagaoka Institute of Design, Niigata, Japan  
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Project. Type/Color: Figure/Ground

Purpose. Today too much design is created directly on the computer; this project allows first-year students to combine the traditional skills of working by hand with their computer skills. The purpose of this project is to explore the relationships between the color of the type with the color of the background (figure/ground).

Assignment. Using watercolors (acrylic polymer emulsion opaque colors ) the student creates five color schemes with the word "COLORS" in the order listed below. Each letter is placed in a rectangle of 4 cm by 5 cm aligned horizontally. Next the student decides which colors to use for each letter (figure) and each rectangle (ground), subject to the following instructions. All five color schemes are created on a B3 format white paper.

First line: Use the three primary colors, Yellow, Cyan, and Magenta.

Second line: Choose a series of similar colors from one hue or two proximate hues (dark red, reddish orange, etc.)

Third line: Choose any color.

Fourth line: Choose colors of dark tone with equal (or almost equal) brightness from different hues.

Fifth line: Choose colors of light tone with equal (or almost equal) brightness from different hues.

Using the on-line simulation system, the student experiments with various color schemes on the computer screen before actually applying the colors on paper. Because the computer offers a limited range of colors to choose from, and the student cannot mix or create a color, the on-line system alone cannot provide a good color exercise. In the case of watercolors, since the student can actually mix and make the colors, the possibilities are infinite; thus it inspires the student's imagination and creativity.

This project, based on an exercise which my teacher Moritz Zwimpfer applied at the Basel School of Design in the 1990's, is one of a series of exercises for typographic studies called the "Hyper Typography Project" which I co-developed after my Basel days.

Format. B3 format, white paper (51.5 cm by 36.4 cm)

Time. 3 weeks

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Hitoshi Koizumi was born in Tokyo on Christmas Day in 1958. As a young
man his first interest was not typography, but technology and
photography. However, after studying at Chiba University in the 1970's
he became a graphic designer and later the art director of Scientific
, Japanese Edition, in Tokyo. Koizumi has met and been
influenced by many famous European designers: in Osaka, Helmut Schmit and in Paris, Charles Peignot and Adrian Frutiger. In 1990 he left Japan to study at the Basel Kunstgewerbeschule under Professor Wolfgang Weingart until 1993.

Today Koizumi is an associate professor of Nagaoka Institute of Design,
Niigata, where he has taught information design and typography since 1994. Koizumi has also taught at the Kuwasawa Design School,
Tokyo, since 2002. His classes are very exciting because of the wide range of undergraduate students from various schools. Koizumi continually experiments with new ways of teachng typography. He believes that discovering people gives meaning to life and that education is a means of enjoying life.

In 2000 Koizumi published Taipogurafi No Yomikata a book dealing
with the relationship between the East, West, and Swiss typography.
In 2003 he supervised the Typography Exhibition at Sendai Mediatheque illustrating how modern typography design and techniques influenced the Japanese language.

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