Chappie: the human shaped graphic design system is now an app


the chappie app allows you to configure your chappie avatar

What is graphic design? We often think of it in the form of advertisements, books or magazines. But AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts) defines it as “the art and practice of planning and projecting ideas and experiences with visual and textual content.” Rethinking our connotations, the Japanese design studio groovisions, in 1994, created a “human-shaped graphic design system” and called it Chappie.


it’s free to use and you can assign your avatar to profile and contact pics

Chappie consisted of several basic forms that remained the same – eyes, mouth and nose – but with interchangeable parts like hairstyle, clothing and skin tone. It was meant to be a tool where “no age, gender and race are established.”


chappie even took the form of a series of figurines called Brockmann® (2001)

Here’s your bit of Spoon & Tamago trivia for the day: the Brockmann figurines above, which were based on the chappie system, were part of Spoon & Tamago’s header banner for a very long time. One of them still lives on in the form of an illustration.

After its initial launch Chappie became somewhat of a phenomenon in Japan. It was licensed by corporations like Takashimaya, Beams, Coca Cola and NTT Docomo and appeared on advertisements and as mascot characters. Now, groovisions has reinvented their human shaped design tool for the age of smartphones and released it as a free app. The design-conscious figures come with over 100 variations in hairstyles, accessories and clothing, allowing you to create your own artistic avatar.



the Spoon & Tamago team from left to right: Johnny, Tomomi and Masako



  1. This is an amazing idea, definitely something that I want. Great read too, thanks.

  2. The Chappie I know is the mysterious singer who recorded this song composed by Kusano Masamune (of Spitz fame) in 1999:

    I had no idea that Chappie is actually the same Chappie featured in this post!

    Chappie’s discography ( reveals other interesting collaborations with various musicians.

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