Ian Lynam - Creative Director in Tokyo

Ian Lynam

I'm a creative director in Tokyo, Japan

Send me a message
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 12 years. I operate a small studio in Shibuya that works at the intersection of identity design, type design, brand strategy, and content curation.

I am also the Co-Chair of 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. 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:
    http://pages.typekit.com/prix/

  2. 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)

  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.
    http://topsy.com/

  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:
    http://kimbo.wordshape.com

  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...

    Read more
  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...

    Read more
  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...

    Read more