You’ve probably heard of Kumamon, the wildly popular bear that promotes the Japanese prefecture of Kumamoto. If not, you probably recognise his beady pupils and bright red cheeks. But what does this bear have to do with the sleek and stylish Stalogy stationery we’re such big fans of? Well believe it or not, Kumamon and Stalogy were designed by the same person! Yes, both were designed by Manabu Mizuno, the design guru behind Tokyo’s ‘Good Design Company’.
Born in 1972 in Tokyo, Mizuno studied Graphic Design at Tama Art University, he worked for a few different companies before founding the Good Design Company in 1998 at the age of 26. Mizuno doesn’t believe that his designs should stand out and be eye-catching, rather they should fill in what’s missing, without any unnecessary balls and whistles. With the Good Design Company, he has gone on to design everything from the branding of shops such as Nakagawa Masashichi Shoten, a 300-year old establishment that showcases both unique and traditional Japanese crafts and products, to designing bicycles and even redesigning an entire train line!
Originally created in 2011 to promote the opening of the Kyushu Shinkansen, this black bear sky-rocketed to fame when he won the Yuru-Kyara Grand Prix an annual popularity contest for Japan’s many mascots. Unusually, Kumamoto prefecture offers free licensing to anyone using Kumamon to promote products from Kumamoto. This has led to an abundance of Kumamon merchandise, and contributed significantly to his fame.
In an interview with the Global Times of China, Mizuno said he likes to be thought of as Kumamon’s mother, and that his father is Kundo Koyama, another renowned designer with who he created the famous mascot. Interestingly Mizuno himself was the one to suggest a mascot to promote the new Shinkansen line that Kumamoto was opening. The prefectural government asked him to design a logo, but he decided a mascot was the best way to stand out!
However much Stalogy and Kumamon differ, they both share the same simple, yet elegant design that Manabu Mizuno is so well known for!