Republic of Regina

Regina is not a design team. It’s a “design unit.” So says Hajime Tsunashima, one half of the vibrant Tokyo-based design team…no, unit. Taken in literal context of Miriam Webster’s most pertinent definition of “unit” as “a single thing, person, or group that is a constituent of a whole,” this could be deemed a lingual misstep, but we don’t think so. Regina, or Republic of Regina, is a casually brilliant collaboration between Tsunashima-san and Ryo Matsuura, bringing a commonlanguage of graffiti influence, manic pop consciousness, and the straightforward indulgence of beauty to their projects. Capturing campaigns for Nescafé, Subaru, and Reebok, a cover for Dazed & Confused, and being featured in Die Gestalten’s book Play Loud, the young “design force” [as Matsuura calls it] specializes in the intersection of the traditionally beautiful and the dissonantly abstract. Often layering glamour-standard faces with the hyper-colored, amorphous [yet somehow controlled] forms that saturate street-level art trends, the images practically fight within themselves for your attention. Both claim, unsurprisingly, musical roots in and inspiration from hip hop, although in explaining their slipmats, we detected a slightly more intuitive angle: “I think it was mainly influenced by Japanese animation,” says Matsuura. “Traditional patterns of Japan and graffiti,” says Hajime. Team, force, or unit, the result is perfect harmony.