incomplet: a podcast about design history

a podcast about design history

Tomoko Miho

    Tomoko Miho was a Japanese-American graphic and industrial designer. Born Tomoko Kawakami in 1931 in Los Angeles, California, she learned her first design principles from the family flower business. Tomoko lived in LA until her family was forcibly interned in 1942. The Kawakami family spent three years of their lives imprisoned without reason or evidence at the Gila River War Relocation Center. Like most internment camps, Gila River was overcrowded and unhygienic, conditions that contributed to a majority of the 1,862 internment camp deaths. Tomoko and the Kawakami family survived their internment and moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota. Tomoko took design classes there and later moved back to Los Angeles, California with a full scholarship to the Art Center School. Around graduation she met her future husband, fellow designer James Miho. The couple would travel together often during their lives, moving to different cities for work or taking international trips for both business and leisure. Tomoko Miho met many fellow talented designers of her day, even mentoring under prolific modernist designer Irving Harper. Tomoko Miho would eventually start her own firm, Tomoko Miho Design, where she was known for her creative take on minimalism that would use shape and harmony to create elegant, multilayered worlds. Her unique style has left a lasting impression, especially on catalog design which her innovative minimalism transformed into something stylish and fashionable.


    1931 – b Tomoko Kawakami in Los Angeles, California.
    1942 – President Franklin Roosevelt issues Executive Order 9066; Japanese internment begins in America.
    1945 – Internment ends; the Kawakami family relocates to Minneapolis, Minnesota.
    1958 – Tomoko graduates from the Art Center School of Minneapolis, Minnesota with an industrial design degree.  Around this time, Tomoko meets husband James Miho.
    1960 – Tomoko and James take a six-month tour of Europe, meeting several notable European designers.
    1974 – The couple opens their own company, Miho Associates.
    1982  – Tomoko and James divorce; Tomoko founds Tomoko Miho Design in New York.
    2012  – d Tomoko Miho in New York, NY.


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