AXIS magazine cover february 2013image © designboom



as part of designboom’s ongoing questionnaire series with some of the world’s most distinguished print magazines, designboom talks with editor-in-chief masahiro kamijyo of AXIS – a bi-monthly publication established in 1981 which operates from the AXIS building in roppongi, tokyo. the magazine was born from the activities percolating the AXIS headquarters – a space which serves as a creative base for design proposals and regularly hosts design-based exhibitions and events. the up-to-date journal describes creativity as a driving force behind culture, design, communication and business. AXIS follows the philosophy that design is an integral protagonist in socially important endeavors, and aims to  explore and propose new social relations and lifestyles to their readers engaged in shaping the times in which we live.



 AXIS magazine questionnaire: editor in chief masahiro kamijyo

various covers of AXIS magazine, featuring portraits of architects and designers image © designboom



designboom:what are some key differences between AXIS and other japanese design magazines?


editor-in-chief masahiro kamijyo:through constantly questioning what design really means, AXIS takes a comprehensive view of society and lifestyle, and endeavor to make valuable proposals that differ from other publications. while it has a basic orientation toward product design, the publication covers a wide range of topics, including everything from architecture and traditional crafts, to information design. with this complex, entropic mix of information, with its diverse topics and bilingual content, we strive to create something that has a sense of unity.



 AXIS magazine questionnaire: editor in chief masahiro kamijyo

from left to right: kanae hasegawa (design journalist) , yoshiaki tutsui (photographer), masahiro kamijyo (AXIS editorial team) wearing designboom pinsimage © designboom




designboom:how do you know who your readers are and what they would like to see in each issue of AXIS?


editor-in-chief masahiro kamijyo:our readership is comprised of professional opinion leaders open to new design and business. designers and planners in their 20s and 30s and the percentage of female readers is over 35%.we accommodate the needs and interests of creative people with a discriminating taste in lifestyle who participate and engage in various events, such as a seminars and exhibitions etc. our readers are particularly interested in new industrial design products, automobiles, cameras, computers and digital tools, etc. we have a circulation of 30,000 copies (20,000 issues in japan, 10,000 overseas).



 AXIS magazine questionnaire: editor in chief masahiro kamijyo

article on clay animation artist takuji yamada, AXIS february 2013image © desigboom



designboom:how is each issue put together, thematically?


editor-in-chief masahiro kamijyo:due to the professional nature of the AXIS readership, the content is not of a generic one as compared to heavy life-style focused publications. the cover will always feature a well-known protagonist in the design field with an in-depth interview. in the most recent issue we present walter de silva. we asked him about the secret of VW’s surge when he visited japan for the occasion of the debut of VW’s new compact car up. accompanying regular content is a traditional crafts section, 3-4 book reviews, a frequent feature on young designers and towards the end of the magazine is a section known as ‘news of the world’, which is a selection of upcoming events, exhibitions and fairs.



  AXIS magazine questionnaire: editor in chief masahiro kamijyo

talking about japan, iwan baan interview, AXIS february 2013image © designboom



designboom:the most recent february 2013 edition of AXIS reflects on japan and its design development?


editor-in-chief masahiro kamijyo:for this feature we have interviewed seven foreign creators or teams, ‘design- and architecture influencers’.precisely because of their insatiable interest in and familiarity with japan — cultivated over many years.the standpoint of these overseas creators should reveal aspects that we japanese would maybe not notice ourselves. they talk about the potential and future of japan that is relatively unknown to us. TALKING ABOUT JAPAN is its title.




 AXIS magazine questionnaire: editor in chief masahiro kamijyo

talking about japan, BIG / bjarke ingels interview, AXIS february 2013image © designboom



designboom:how much advance preparation time is required to conduct this?


editor-in-chief masahiro kamijyo:we take approximately two or three months in preparation for every issue.




 AXIS magazine questionnaire: editor in chief masahiro kamijyo

talking about japan, designboom/ birgit lohmann interview, AXIS february 2013image © designboom



designboom:how do you ensure that your content is always fresh?


editor-in-chief masahiro kamijyo:we are constantly in search of new valuable projects and invest a lot of energy and time to ensure that the content is fresh – we achieve this by paying attention to what is produced by the protagonists and upcoming talent within the creative fields and interrogate, from various perspectives, what we have discovered. the main focus goes to delivering the most accurate behind-the-scenes stories, a great reading experience.



  AXIS magazine questionnaire: editor in chief masahiro kamijyo

talking about japan, konstantin grcic interview, AXIS february 2013image © designboom



designboom:being a design magazine, the aesthetics of the publication — from font to layout, kerning to cover — is very important. what style would you say AXIS is? how has it evolved in the last 5 years?


editor-in-chief masahiro kamijyo:we consider that the role of a magazine as a unique ‘voice’, and this philosophy is integral in directing the nature and style of the content. in terms of aesthetics, the typeface which we are using for the AXIS magazine is a specially developed original font, called AXIS font in japan, with the exception of the large newspapers, it’s rare for a magazine to have its own commemoration of the magazine’s twentieth anniversary, in september 2001, a renewal project was carried out by typographer isao suzuki over a period of one year and eight months. the japanese version of the AXIS font comes in seven weights, from the rare ultra light to heavy –it can cope with everything, the titles, text, captions, as well as english text (read more about the font here and here). AXIS presents a full english translation of the japanese text and also follows a western format that differs from traditional japanese publications which read from right to left. the magazine is almost entirely horizontally typeset with a paper size of an approximate A4 format (297 x 227 mm).



  AXIS magazine questionnaire: editor in chief masahiro kamijyo

AXIS watchmaker article from a 2006 editionimage © designboom



designboom:many print magazines are making the transition from print to online. what kind of measures (from publishing strategies to content) are you taking to keep AXIS relevant and competitive?


editor-in-chief masahiro kamijyo:due to the rapid growth of contemporary digital media, seeking opportunities for online presence has become more and more integral. since many years AXIS offers a digital journal called JIKU with updates of content featured in AXIS magazine. we have plans to continue to advance and maintain this JIKU site as a hybrid-style strategy to nurture the print edition of AXIS as well as contributing to the international information flow of design content online. for major updates, for now there’s our twitter news page @AXISjiku.




  AXIS magazine questionnaire: editor in chief masahiro kamijyo

AXIS article on the future of technology and design, december 2007 image © designboom



designboom:what is the future of AXIS?


editor-in-chief masahiro kamijyo:the aim is to always is to give a new perspective regarding design and we want to continue along this path.we will continue to host design related events in the AXIS gallery (which launched in 1981), located in roppongi, tokyo – it is one of japan’s few design galleries accommodating creative work, seminars and exhibitions.