The instantly recognizable multicolor Flowers motif by Takashi Murakami has become a core symbol inside culture. In 1995, the Japanese artist designed the smiling flower and it is now considered to be the intersection of today’s art, fashion, and culture.
The inspiration for this legendary symbol came about while Murakami was studying Nihonga at the Tokyo University of the Arts. Initially the Japanese designer attended post-secondary to study animation, but had encountered a change of heart after falling in love with the 140-year-old traditional Japanese painting style.
A core subject in Nihonga art is called “setsugetsuka” which translates to moon, snow and flower. Takashi attempted to replicate the traditional Nihonga flowers over fifty times, and thus the Flowers motif came to life.
While this smiling multicoloured flower may seem all innocent at first glance, the symbol withholds a much darker message. Murakami’s Flowers motif represent the trauma and collective dark emotions Japanese locals still are experiencing from the 1945 Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings.
The now 60-year-old artist frequently practices Nihonga with a twist, by adding a contemporary pop-culture element to his work. The combination of these two opposing styles is what gives Murakami his distinctive, specific style of creativity.
Murakami’s flower character has played a core role in the history of music and has been seen on the biggest names in the industry. The smiling Flowers motif appeared in the unforgettable visuals from Ye’s 2007 album Graduation and the Kids See Ghosts, a collaborative project from Ye and Kid Cudi. In 2018, OVO partnered up with Murakami to create the ‘Takashi Murakami x OVO Surplus Flower Owl Hoodie’. The Japanese designer constructed the visual designs for Billie Eilish’s “You Should See Me In A Crown” music video.
The Flowers motif has steadily grown its involvement within fashion and has appeared on Ben Baller jewellery, Tourbillon watches, Porter bags and Supreme pieces. In 2018, Murakami teamed up with Virgil Abloh and collaborated on paintings, sculptures, prints, t-shirts and a leather tote bag, which premiered at Kaikai Kiki Summer Show 2019 exhibition.
Murakami continues to pair up with some of culture’s most exclusive, influential names. The Flowers motif has expanded into various forms of design: sculptures, prints, jewellery, pillows and clothing articles over the past decades.
As Murakami remains hustling and sharing his creative powers with the world, it can only lead to one thing. His Flowers motif is set to establish itself as one of culture’s easiest to spot symbols.
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