Dr. Mariko Takagi

Assistant Professor
Graphic Design

Dr. Mariko Takagi is a Hong Kong based typographer, researcher, author and designer of books.

She acts as an intermediary between Western and Asian cultures in general, and between Latin letters and Japanese/Chinese characters in particular. Typography is her passion, her form of expression and at the same time her subject of research.

Dr. Takagi moved from Germany to Hong Kong in 2010. This move from a Latin letter based environment to a bilingual (Latin letters and Chinese characters) has given her new inspirations and insights into multilingual typography culture.

In my research practice, I regard myself as a translator between cultures. Through my research publications – mainly to a Western readership – I provide insights into Japanese and Chinese writing systems and their visual application by typography and typeface design. I analyse cultural identity as demonstrated in its graphic design, for example, Japan and Hong Kong. The unique potential of the fluent transition of characters as carriers of information to visuals or even images in the context of Chinese and Japanese characters is a fascinating phenomenon; it is however often misinterpreted by Western scholars who see the characters as equivalent to pictograms.

“Chinese Characters in Typography – A Creative Ambiguity between Text and Image”, FRG II funded by HKBU, starting in October 2015.

“Contemporary typographic design made in Hong Kong”, FRG II funded by HKBU, since April 2015.

“Tanaka Ikko and Japanese Modern Typography”, supported by DNP Foundation for Cultural Promotion, Japan. 2014–2016.

“Visual encounter of Japan and West – From classical Japonism to contemporary typography” (German. Original title: Formen der visuellenBegegnungzwischen Japan und demWesten – Vom klassischen Japonismus zur zeitgenössischen Typography) PhD, Braunschweig University of Art, Germany, 2008–2012.

“Typographic Culture of Hong Kong”, FRG II funded by HKBU, 2011–2014.

“TypeFaces – A comparison between complex Chinese and Latin micro -typography”, funded by HKBU, 2011–2013.

“Chinese micro typography for simplified characters”, funded by HKBU, 2012–2014.

Solo exhibitions

“Hanzi-Graphy: Typographic translation between Latin letters and Chinese characters.” Exhibition of the research project: Typographic translation between Latin letters and -Chinese characters. Goethe-Gallery, Hong Kong, 05 September–05 October 2013.

“Between the lines: Reading the world my way.” Exhibition of personal work from 2010 to 2013. Goethe-Gallery, Hong Kong, 05 September–05 October 2013.

“Hanzi-Graphy: Typographic translation between Latin letters and Chinese characters.” Exhibition of the research project: Typographic translation between Latin letters and -Chinese characters. Koo Ming Kown Exhibition Gallery, Communication and Visual Arts Building, HKBU, Hong Kong, 12–23 April 2013.

“AUF > ZU 9 – Zwischen den Seiten”, Mergemeier Gallery, Düsseldorf, Germany, 2010.

Group exhibitions

“Borrowed Thoughts.” Typographic work exhibited at OSTRALE´013 (international -exhibition for -contemporary art), Dresden, 5 July–15 September 2013.

“100 things about Hong Kong.” Presentation at the International Art & Design -Exchange Exhibition 2012 in KINKI University, Osaka, Japan, 3–14 December 2012.

“Dear Aliens in Japan.” Presentation at the Open Folio of Impact 7, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia, 2011.

Hanzi Graphy – A typographic translation between Latin letters and Chinese characters, MCCM Creations, Hong Kong, 2014.

Emma (Children’s book. Concept, text and layout by Takagi. Illustration by Maya Yang–Ueno), form + zweck, Berlin, Germany, 2012.

An Invitation for Tea (German, original title: Eine Einladung zum Tee), form + zweck publisher, Berlin, Germany, 2010.

Drawing with Sounds (German, original title: Mit Lauten Malen), form + zweck publisher, Berlin, Germany, 2009.

Dear Aliens in Japan 2 – a short introduction for newcomers to Japan (German, original title: An die Aliens in Japan 2 eine kleine Anleitung für Japananfänger), form + zweck publisher, Berlin, Germany, 2007.

Spending Christmas in Japan (German, original title: überweihnachten in japan), form + zweck publisher, Berlin, Germany, 2006.

Dear Aliens in Japan – a short introduction for newcomers to Japan (German, original title: An die Aliens in Japan – eine kleine Anleitung für Japananfänger), form + zweck publisher, Berlin, Germany, 2005.

Washi – The Tradition and Art of Japanese Paper (German, original title: Washi –- Tradition und Kunst des Japanpapiers), Wahine publishing company, Dr. Roland Kretsch, Bochum, Germany, 2003.

2014
red dot design award: communication design 2014,
Project: “Hanzi Graphy”, book, publisher: mccm Creations

2010
Good Design Award, Chicago Atheneum.
Project: “Light Perspectives”, client: ERCO GmbH

2010
Gute Gestaltung, DDC Deutscher Designer Club
Project: “Light Perspectives”, client: ERCO GmbH

2010
BCP Best of Corporate Publishing 2010, BCP silver award 2010
Project: “Light Perspectives”, client: ERCO GmbH

2010
iF communication design award 2010
Project: “Light Perspectives”, client: ERCO GmbH

2009
red dot design award: communication design 2009,
Project: “News 2008”, magazine, client: Brunner GmbH

2008
ADC 2008 (Art Directors Club, Germany): bronze medal
Project: “An die Aliens in Japan 2”

2007
red dot design award: communication design 2007,
Project: “überweihnachten in japan”

Nominated for Design Award of the Federal Republic of Germany
Project: “überweihnachten in japan”

iF communication design award 2007
Project: “überweihnachten in japan”

ADC 2007 (Art Directors Club, Germany)
Project: “überweihnachten in japan”

2006
The most beautiful German books in 2006, by Stiftung Buchkunst
Project: “überweihnachten in japan” (Spending Christmas in Japan)

2005
The most beautiful German books in 2005, by Stiftung Buchkunst
Project: “An die Aliens in Japan”

2005
iF gold award 2005
Project: “An die Aliens in Japan”

2005
iF communication design award 2005
Project: “An die Aliens in Japan”

2005
red dot design award: communication design 2005,
Project: “An die Aliens in Japan”

2005
iF communication design award 2005
Project: “Washi – Tradition und Kunst des Japanpapiers”

2005
TDC – Type Directors Club, Japan
Project: “Washi – Tradition und Kunst des Japanpapiers”

2004
red dot design award: communication design 2005, best of best
Project: “Washi – Tradition und Kunst des Japanpapiers”

2002
Gutenberg Festival, Offset Printers’ Association Ludhiana, India
Award of Honour for “Washi – Tradition und Kunst des Japanpapiers”

2002
The most beautiful books from around the world 2002 by Stiftung Buchkunst, golden letter, the highest honour, Project: “Washi – Tradition und Kunst des Japanpapiers”

2001
The most beautiful German books in 2001, by Stiftung Buchkunst
Project: “Washi – Tradition und Kunst des Japanpapiers”,
sponsorship award for young book designers

The most beautiful German books in 2001, by Stiftung Buchkunst
Project: “Washi – Tradition und Kunst des Japanpapiers”

Teaching, research and my personal design practice are the foundation of my professional work. These three areas are strongly connected, as they inspire and support each other.

My teaching experience started in 2002, just one year after I received my first university degree. Since then, I have taught in Germany, the United States, Singapore, Lebanon and Hong Kong. Teaching is always bilateral; it is also an action of learning to me. The choice of a topic for a semester, the preparation of the seminars, questions by the students and their approach towards problem solving: these are all lessons for me as well.