On what would have been her 79th birthday, Google Doodle has honored famed and eclectic designer Eiko Ishioka (1938-2012). Even though you might not be familiar with her name, you’ve almost certainly seen some of her unique advertising or theatrical work. Here’s a quick primer on the Japanese-born artist.
1. HER CHOSEN CAREER WAS NOT EASY FOR WOMEN IN JAPAN.
Ishioka had artistic ambitions early, attending the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music to pursue a career in graphic design. But the field was so heavily male-dominated at the time that her father told her she would have an easier life if she devoted it to designing dolls or shoes.
2. SHE USED A LOT OF NAKED MODELS.
After graduating, Ishioka entered the advertising industry, creating campaigns for the boutique store chain Parco. Although Japanese culture doesn’t openly embrace nudity in popular culture, Ishioka frequently featured nude or semi-nude models in her ad campaigns. While sometimes shocking to more conservative observers, Ishioka’s designs won over critics.
3. SHE WON A GRAMMY.
For a 1986 Miles Davis album, Tutu, Ishioka had the musician photographed by Irving Penn in black and white, with one harsh light overhead. The image was so striking it won a Grammy.
4. SHE WON AN OSCAR FOR BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA.
Francis Ford Coppola's 1992 film, Bram Stoker's Dracula, features a memorable performance by Gary Oldman as the title character, but it was Ishioka’s costume design—including Oldman’s sinewy, replica-musculature armor and actress Sadie Frost’s lizard-inspired dress—that made a lasting impression. Ishioka won an Academy Award for her work on the movie.
5. SHE DESIGNED THE HOUSTON ROCKETS' LOGO.
Ishioka’s creative impulses were never limited to any one medium. In 2003, she designed a new logo for the NBA’s Houston Rockets, with a rocket cone and trailing exhaust intended to represent the upward trajectory of the game.
6. SHE MADE AN OLYMPIC CONCENTRATION COAT.
Ishioka contributed to the design aesthetic of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing as well as designing outerwear for select countries for the 2002 Games. For that event, she also designed what she called a Concentration Coat—a foam-like jacket that could essentially build a pod around the wearer, “insulating” them from the prying eyes and questions of the press.