Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Selling Shiseido

I recently stumbled across a fantastic series of articles and a treasure trove of images about the history of Japanese cosmetics and fragrance company Shiseido on the Visualizing Cultures website of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Visualizing Cultures is described as "image-driven scholarship" and frankly nobody loves a pretty picture more than I do. I'm also intrigued by early modern Japan, the period when contact with the west created incredible cultural changes over a fairly short period of time.

I'm also a little sweet on Shiseido as a brand, having always loved the 80s art direction by Serge Lutens and the fragrance I wear (and previously reviewed) Tactics by Shiseido.

Shiseido perfumes, ca. 1918–21. Ume no Hana (Plum Blossom, WOO-ME in English on the label) & Fuji no Hana (Wisteria). Yabe Sue, designer. [Image from MIT Visualizing Cultures.]

The series of articles is called "Selling Shiseido: Cosmetics Advertising & Design in Early 20th-Century Japan" by Gennifer Weisenfeld. It's quite a fascinating history and treasure trove of art deco packaging and design.

Shiseido cosmetics poster, 1930. [Image from MIT Visualizing Cultures.]
The series of articles begins with the Introduction in Selling Shiseido I. It continues with a series of themed visual timelines called Visual Narratives in Selling Shiseido II, and Selling Shiseido III is a huge set of Image Galleries.

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