Japan Relief: Designs to Inspire

Japan Relief: Designs to Inspire

By Kelly Cooper
One of the most devastating crises to hit Japan in over 60 years, the March earthquake and tsunami left the country shocked, traumatized and distressed. Though the disaster was horrific, camaraderie among those affected and remote blossomed. Responding through strikingly innovative efforts, bands of designers and architects are channeling their creativity into a tool for relief. And with our September issue focusing on Japanese design, we thought we’d take a peek at who’s helping out. Here, we outline five of our favorite causes.

Milton Glaser — the hand behind the legendary "I ♥ NY" logo — teamed up with a band of New York-based designers and Architecture for Humanity to create this simple, elegant poster.

In times of need, art has proven to be a powerful force. In Rise for Japan’s case, it represents cameraderie—a relationship between two countries. Partnering with Milton Glaser (the hand behind the "I ♥ NY" logo) and Architecture for Humanity, a band of New York-based designers conceptualized an idea for a poster campaign that reflected both collaboration and growth between Japan and the U.S.. Founder and Creative Director Fernando Castro said the designers wanted the poster to be about hope and to represent the relief efforts that are happening in Japan. 

"We included the element of trees that have been so symbolic between Japan and the U.S. It’s been a symbol of their friendship," Castro said. "We gave those ideas to Milton Glaser and he came back with the logo."

Posters are available for purchase on the Rise for Japan website. All proceeds benefit Architecture for Humanity’s rebuilding efforts in Japan.

Ventilate Japan

Like Rise for Japan, Ventilate is also raising awareness and funding through graphic design. Founded by Toronto-based designer Michael Brown, Ventilate Japan is a poster campaign that not only aims to garner funds for the Red Cross, but also remind us of the severity of the quake and the consequences of mother nature’s destruction—from ongoing nuclear threats to medical expenses.

With 20 unique designs from independent artists, it’s hard not to help. Check out the posters here

One of twenty distinctive designs, Diego López García crafted this peice for Ventilate Japan’s poster campaign. All posters are available for $15 and $80.

Shigeru Ban

While some relief efforts stem from creativity, others are rooted in efficiency and quickness—at least that’s where architect Shigeru Ban’s principles lie. For Japan, Shigeru Ban is doing what he does best: build—for a cause, that is. He is a notable regular in building simple structures for relief efforts, such as post-civil-war Rwanda emergency shelters in 1998 and units for the homeless after the Haitian earthquake in 2010. The common denominator? Paper tubes. He uses new and recycled tubes for their ease of assembly, strength, and inexpensive price tag. So far, he’s set up over 1,800 individual partitions for homeless Japanese families all funded by donations. 

See his work and donate at his website

Noted architect Shigeru Ban has implemented new and recycled paper tubes for various relief efforts for over a decade. Today, he uses this simple tool to create temporary partitions for those left homeless.

Ex-Container Project 

Another project designed with practicality in mind is the Ex-Container Project, which utilizes ISO shipping container formats to design compact and efficient temporary housing. Redesigning the frames from the actual containers and eliminating the parts unsuitable for housing, the designers at Ex-Container are constructing sturdy and stackable houses, complete with a bathroom, toilet, and living room. And get this: the houses can be converted to permanent houses once the two-year limit of temporary housing is up. 

Follow their Twitter for updates on implementation, or donate to the project here

The term "resourcefulness" may define just what Ex-Container aims to provide for families in need: this project takes structures from ISO shipping containers and restructures them into stackable houses.

Japanese Red Cross Society

Want to donate directly? The Japanese Red Cross Society is accepting donations via PayPal and bank account deposits until September 30, 2011.


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