Film Archive

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International Programme 2019
Book-Paper-Scissors Hirose Nanako

Kikuchi Nobuyoshi is an old-school book designer. In his studio in Tokyo, he uses sheets of paper, adhesive tape and rulers to design minimalist works of art of great sensitivity.


Documentary Film
94 minutes

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Kitahara Eiji, Amy Aoyama
Hirose Nanako
biobiopatata, Suzuki Tsunekichi
Hirose Nanako
Hirose Nanako
As a book designer, Kikuchi Nobuyoshi has drafted more than 10,000 covers. Working the traditional way, with graph paper, ruler, printed-out Kanji (the Japanese letters) and tape, every copy is first created by the most delicate haptic work, before his assistant, with whom he has been collaborating for more than thirty years, transfers the finished design to the computer. Kikuchi’s books represent a considered, minimalist aesthetics in which every single element – cover, binding, spine, marker ribbon – continues the story he encountered while reading it. Renowned writers like Furui Yoshikichi, who translated Robert Musil and others into Japanese, trust the intuition and skill of Kikuchi, who claims that he has grown increasingly empty over the decades. In her gentle portrait, director Hirose Nanako shows a man whose whole lifestyle is shaped by an elegant and cultivated attitude to things – whether it’s brewing freshly ground coffee, using an old gramophone or strolling through a Tokyo flea market.

Carolin Weidner