Ian Lynam - Creative Director in Tokyo

Ian Lynam

I'm a creative director in Tokyo, Japan

I speak English and Japanese

Find me at

My activity

About me

I'm a graphic designer, design educator, design critic and design writer who has been based in Tokyo for 19 years. I operate a small studio in Nakano that works at the intersection of identity design, type design, brand strategy, and content curation.

I am also faculty in the MFA Program in Graphic Design at Vermont College of Fine Arts and faculty at Temple University Japan and Meme Design School. I write regularly for IDEA and Slanted, and have written a few books about graphic design.

I've worked on a number of large projects—from doing the interior graphic design for Google's and YouTube's Tokyo offices to designing custom typefaces for Whole Foods to designing exhibitions for NASA. Some of my studio's highfalutin' clients are Mozilla, Adobe, Nike, Onitsuka Tiger, and ASICS. Some of our indie clients are the band YACHT, the restaurants Le Comptoir Occitan, Le Pigeon and Little Bird, and the apparel brand Joshu + Vela. We love working with all sorts of clients.

Likes: good coffee, beer, cycling, cats
Dislikes: bad coffee, vacuuming, opera

My Creations

  1. Google Tokyo

    13 July 2015

    I created the interior graphic design scheme for Google’s new floor of offices in Roppongi. Hundreds of meters of custom wallpapers with bespoke graphics were designed that crossed six complementary graphic themes
    • a stylized koi pond for the office entrance with dual interactive projections
    • an abstracted, hyper-pop alternate... continue reading (0, 1 image)

  2. Our studio designed a commissioned webfont specimen microsite for a faux restaurant in our neighborhood in Hatagaya for Adobe Typekit's launch of Chinese, Japanese and Korean webfont support. Much CSS3 fanciness within:

  3. Le Comptoir Occitan

    13 July 2015

    I designed the full identity for Le Comptoir Occitan, a new Basque restaurant in the Daikanyama district of Tokyo. The project included signage, business cards, posters, flyers, and lettering for glassware and stationery.

  4. We created a suite of custom typefaces for Whole Foods' 2014/2015 North American campaign.

  5. Topsy

    13 July 2015

    I designed the identity for Topsy, an advanced search engine for Twitter, which was acquired by Apple in 2013.

  6. Kanto Tour Guide

    13 July 2015

    A set of ten bilingual tour guides of the Kanto region, each by a prominent foreign member of the Tokyo community for Shibaura House. This project was really fun—each guide was printed on different colored paper stock using a complementary ink color using Risograph printing.

  7. Kimbo

    17 July 2015

    Kimbo is a plug-in for Adobe Illustrator that adds 13 new tools in 2 tool groups to Illustrator's tool palette. These tools permit the creation of artwork that would otherwise be difficult or time-consuming to create.

    Check Kimbo out here:

  8. Joshu + Vela

    14 July 2015

    I designed the brand identity and applications for the apparel and accessory brand Joshu + Vela, one of San Francisco's hottest bag makers.
    More: http://joshuvela.com

  9. Nike Free Asia Pacific

    14 July 2015

    I've art directed and designed countless initiatives for Nike—this booklet showcasing the Nike Free collection for Nike Asia Pacific is one of them.

  10. A family of 4 custom typefaces for the LA band band YACHT for their new album. See the type in action here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UXMG102kSvk

  11. Space Academy identity

    6 March 2016

    We recently completed the identity for Space Academy, an event space in Christchurch, New Zealand. The identity includes logo variations for assorted use cases, a distinct color palette and was the inspiration for a new typeface family. The Space Academy identity is inspired by space programs of yore and includes... continue reading (0, 1 image)

  12. We designed the interior graphics for Pivotal‘s Tokyo Offices—hundreds of meters of bespoke anti-patterns.

    Pivotal accelerates the digital transformation of the world’s largest companies with a modern software development methodology and modern cloud platform. We were excited that such a forward-thinking company approached us to design their interior graphics for... continue reading (0, 1 image)

  13. IDEA magazine Editor-in-Chief Kiyonori Muroga and I curated The Study Room at the 27th Brno Biennial, the legendary Czech series of exhibitions. The Study Room is a collection of forty-plus publications organized spatially for Biennial-goers in a pair of dedicated galleries.

    We gave a lecture at the Biennial about local... continue reading (0, 1 image)

  14. Smythe Sans Pro

    5 August 2016

    SmytheSans Pro is a contemporary workhorse sans serif family that is eminently readable on-screen and in print. It is an updated version of our popular family Smythe Sans — we extended the characters sets, redrew most of the characters, rigorously spaced and kerned the entire family, and added a bunch... continue reading (0, 1 image)

  15. SmytheSoft Pro

    5 August 2016

    SmytheSoft Pro is a contemporary workhorse sans serif family that is eminently readable on-screen and in print. It is an updated display version of our popular family of fonts Smythe Sans with custom rounded terminals. SmytheSoft Pro includes Western, Central and Eastern European and Vietnamese character sets and is offered... continue reading (0, 1 image)

  16. Temple University Japan

    9 September 2016

    I recently re-branded Temple University Japan‘s Azabu Hall, having designed the exterior signage for the campus’ main building and designing the interiors for The Parliament, TUJ’s new street-facing student lounge. More: http://ianlynam.com/work/temple-university-japan/

  17. Start Somewhere

    13 January 2017
    Start Somewhere

    Start Somewhere: A Handbook of Dubious Exercises, Tips and Rants About Becoming a Designer Who Writes is a zine to help designers grapple with generating their own con...

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  18. Kurokura identity & packaging

    Kurokura is a new sake brand designed to spotlight the very best of Japan’s craft sake brewers.Kyoto-based sake bar owner Yoram Ofer and Tokyo-based drink writer Nicho...

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  19. 99+1: Traveling Through Art, Design & Architecture

    99+1 is a new book and responsive website for the Japanese National Tourism Organization.99+1 JAPAN: Traveling through art, design & architecture is a pocket publicati...

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  20. Visual Strategies for the Apocalypse

    Visual Strategies for the Apocalypse is about overcoming what I term “Creative Constipation™”. It is a 112-page booklet with contributions from leading designers and d...

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  21. The Thing!

    17 March 2019
    The Thing!

    The Thing is about the problematics of design, designers, and design history. It is an 88-page zine that examines thorny aspects of design, designers, and design histo...

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  22. Creativity and technology in the age of AI

    We were commissioned by Adobe to work with Andreas Pfeiffer of the Pfeiffer Report to create “Creativity and technology in the age of AI”, a research project with the ...

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  23. Total Armageddon

    30 March 2019
    Total Armageddon

    I recently edited a new book titled Total Armageddon for Slanted Publishers. It is a book about design. And culture. And complexity, notably how we, as a global civili...

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  24. "Heads Are Gonna Roll" poster stamp

    A poster stamp design for The Portland Stamp Company designed with CalArts faculty member and longtime Emigre contributor Mr. Keedy.https://theportlandstampcompany.com...

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  25. Temple University Japan

    26 October 2019
    Temple University Japan

    Ian Lynam Design provided interior design, identity, wayfinding, and signage consulting and design for the new campus for Temple University Japan, an institution where...

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  26. Critique: The War of Design

    26 October 2019

    Critique: The War of Design is about how to approach design critique from cultural and critical perspectives.

    Lovingly offset printed in a mix of three colors, Critique mixes symbolism, memoir, institutional critique, a thorough walloping of some of design’s heroes, very silly illustrations, lovingly-placed clip art, and a pinch of... continue reading (0, 1 image)

  27. Slanted #35 - LA

    7 May 2020
    Slanted #35 - LA

    Ian Lynam co-curated and co-edited Slanted’s 35th issue devoted to Los Angeles.I have a complicated relationship with LA. I lived there for a few years and really didn...

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  28. NJP No. 1

    8 May 2020
    NJP No. 1

    A print issue from web journal Néojaponisme — NJP#1: Shōwa Tokyo — 128 pages of new content about retro Tokyo past and present.With the 2020 (er, 2021?) Summer Olympic...

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  29. Ouzuri identity

    27 August 2020
    Ouzuri identity

    Identity design for Ouzuri, a line of contemporary variations on zori, traditional Japanese footwear that are worn with kimono.The project includes logo design, color ...

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  30. Adipeau identity

    17 May 2020
    Adipeau identity

    We worked alongside collaborators Illuminista Ltd. to create the brand identity and packaging for the new skincare startup Adipeau.Adipeau’s products are predicated on...

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  31. The Impossibility of Silence: Writing for Designers, Artists & Photographers

    I have a new book out, published by Onomatopee, called The Impossibility of Silence: Writing for Artists, Designers & Photographers. You can check it out and pre-order...

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  32. AXES Partners

    7 September 2020
    AXES Partners

    Branding and identity for AXES Partners, a multidisciplinary firm specializing in project management services throughout all of Japan.We provided 360-degree branding a...

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  33. Hebi Metal Greetings

    1 February 2021

    Logo for Hebi Metal, a stationery startup here in Tokyo. “Hebi” means “snake” in Japanese, and snakes don’t have arms, so it is just extremely silly that a snake might try to be a shredder on electric guitar. Hebi Metal makes very silly greeting cards, hence this very silly logo.

  34. Graphic skin for the 10th Anniversary edition bGeige Geiger counter from Safecast.

  35. Asano Dental Clinic

    11 March 2021

    Identity for Setagaya’s Asano Dental Clinic. Don’t forget to floss!

  36. Sailosaibin

    7 May 2021

    Sailosaibin is a unique select shop that we just opened which carries a range of imported and original apparel, distinctive accessories, idiosyncratic objet, and new a...

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  37. Icelandic Japan interiors

    Just finished up the interior graphics for Icelandic Japan, one of Asia's major seafood companies including this supergraphic in their meeting room. This mega-map of t...

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  38. Luxe & Design

    22 August 2021
    Luxe & Design

    We just designed and developed a new responsive website for Luxe and Design: https://luxe-and-design.com/The hybrid Tokyo/Shizuoka firm run by Kiyoshi Wakabayashi desi...

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  39. 30 or so Minor Objects: Japanese Graphic Design History is a new 130-page bilingual E/J book on pre-WW2 design history that I put together with the students in my Japanese Graphic Design History class at Temple University Japan
    We worked collectively to write, edit, and translate this book along with... continue reading (0, 1 image)

  40. Icelandic Japan

    16 October 2021
    Icelandic Japan

    Brand positioning, identity, messaging, website, and interior graphic design for Icelandic Japan.We’ve been working alongside the company for the past couple years to ...

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  41. Doko Demo Design Deluxe

    24 February 2022
    Doko Demo Design Deluxe

    We are very excited to announce Doko Demo Design Deluxe, the latest book from Wordshape.DDDD is a 200-page Japanese/English dictionary and phrasebook for graphic desig...

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  42. Corinthians Press 002: Zombie Somnambulence

    Corinthians Press 002 is the latest publication from Wordshape. It is a 324-page book featuring the work of Patrick Tsai, Shirana Shahbazi, Chris Ro, Naohiro Utagawa, ...

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