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Masa Inaba

15th Dec 2014

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While in Tokyo, Japanese graphic designer and typography lover Masa Inaba was creative director at an advertising agency, running major campaigns for Ricoh, Sony, Hitachi and Nikkei. Since moving to London in 2010, he has pursued his passion for graphic design, working at design consultancy Thomas Manss & Company. He has also co-founded magazine Art Glossary to create a platform for young artists and designers to discuss experiences and ideas on art. 


Masa, where in Japan are you from?
A little town called Kuwana, very close to Nagoya.

Why did you move to London?
It was always my dream to work outside Japan. When I had to decide where to complete my Masters in graphic design, London seemed the obvious choice.

How would you define your style?
I’m not sure I have an overall style for my design, but I always spend a lot of time researching how best to communicate with the target audience before I start working on a project. If your thinking is correct in the first place, you don’t need to decorate your design until it looks pretty. 

Where did you learn your design skills?
They have definitely developed since I joined Thomas Manss & Company. The job has given me so many opportunities to work on different projects, including packaging, art catalogues, websites, exhibition designs and even car graphics. Each project brings new challenges and it’s always fun to find design solutions.

Who are your clients?
Bowers & Wilkins have been huge clients at Thomas Manss. I also work for The Ritz Carlton Kyoto, and various Japanese clients and publishers on book designs.

Where are you based in London?
I moved to north London about a month ago with my family.

How would you spend your ideal London weekend?

It would start by heading to a café near my flat with a cup of coffee, then I would spend the rest of my time in my favourite bookstore and record shop in east London. A roast dinner and pint of lager at the end would make my day.

What is your favorite London haunt?
I recently found a cafe with a big kids playroom near my flat. Their coffee taste very rich and smooth and my daughter can spend all day in the play room. This is one of our most favorite places now and we go there almost every weekend.

What inspires you?
All typefaces I see around town. I find fonts on old buildings really inspiring – I love how decorative and organic they can look compared with modern characters.

What do you miss about Japan?

Bookstores. The last time I went back to Japan, I spent almost half a day in one and bought more than ten Japanese titles, which are hard to find here. There is something about a bookstore in Japan that’s so intriguing.

What will you do over the Christmas break?
I’m planning to go to Edinburgh with my family. I have been there once before three years ago however my wife and daughter have never been there. Last time I didn't have a chance to drink a glass of a Scotch whiskey, so I’m looking forward to having it there.

What has been your career highlight?
I had an urgent project last year where I had to finish first layouts for a 400-page book in only three days.There was one other person working with me but she had to go back to her country for a personal reason. I still can't believe that I did it!

What do you love about London?
Though London is such a busy city, there are so many places and parks to relax. I found that especially after I became a father, I really enjoy spending time with my family in a park.


Masa Inaba;


All works pictured were created at Thomas Manss & Company