On Monday this week it was announced that a committee of judges, after hearing feedback from the public, had decided on 1 out of 4 shortlisted designs. The winning design, which we previously knew as option A, was revealed to be designed by Asao Tokolo, a 47-year old artist based in Tokyo. The winning “harmonized chequered emblem” references Japan’s ichimatsu moyo, a checkered pattern that became popular in the Edo period. It was created in a deep indigo blue, a traditionally Japanese color that expresses elegance and sophistication.
It was composed of 3 varieties of rectangular shapes, representing diversity throughout the Olympic games. In an animated gif above (created by a twitter user whose spent quite a bit of time analyzing the logo) one can see how the Olympic and Paralympic versions inform each other.
Previously unknown, Tokolo has now been thrust into the spotlight. So with hopes that a fate similar to that of the previous designer does not befall Tokolo, we took a look the work of the artist whose logo will be appearing everywhere throughout the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Tokolo, by trade, is not a graphic designer. He’s a pattern-maker, obsessed with joining. His work revolves around the theme of “tsunageru,” meaning to connect. And connect it does. By using basic tools like a ruler and compass Tokolo creates individual parts that he then pieces together, creating patterns that can be repeated infinitely. The Tokolo Patterns, as they’ve been coined, merges art and math with Japan’s rich history of adopting patterns that arrived from the west via the Spice Route.
In terms of application, Tokolo’s work has similarly infinite possibilities. He’s created refrigerator magnets, patterns for Issey Miyake bags as well 3-dimensional facades for commercial and educational facilities. He’s even designed a carpet for a movie theater.
After graduating from Tokyo Zokei University, for 5 years Tokolo apprenticed under sculptor and artist Shin Egashira. He’s held teaching positions at the prestigious Musashino Arts University, as well as at his alma mater. He’s participated in several domestic exhibitions over the years, most recently the Measuring exhibition at 21_21 Design Sight and the Materializing exhibition at Tokyo University of the Arts. Next month he’ll be participating in a joint-exhibition at Aomori Contemporary Art Center.