Tokidoki Time: An Interview with Simone Legno
Japanese pop culture refracted through an Italian lens.
From the mind of designer Simone Legno, tokidoki puts Legno’s unique spin on the kawaii culture that has come to define much of Japan’s modern visual world to make vinyl toys, apparel and art. Hamburgers, superheroes and punk rockers are all mainstays of Legno’s visual work and we were able to catch up with the jet-setting Italian to plumb the depths of his creative mind.
TOKYOPOP: You’re from Italy, but much of your art has a strong Japanese pop culture influence. Where did this influence come from? How did you get interested in it enough to start the tokidoki brand?
Simone Legno: It started out in the Eighties because, growing up in Italy, Japanese pop culture was huge in Italy. Even if you talk to my mom, she knows characters like Mazinger and Doraemon. It was so popular that every kid of my generation was watching Japanese anime. For me, it’s not just about the dialogue of the anime; I would see the Japanese lifestyle…so much so that I grew up and started to develop this passion for Japan. When I was 19 or 20, I went for the first time to Japan. Now I just came back from my 29th trip to Japan. [laughs]
TP: You said everyone in your generation grew up watching anime. What were some of your favorites?
SL: There are many because, as a boy, I was so into robots. I still am. When I shop, I look for old robots that were produced during the period when I was a kid that I couldn’t have. [laughs] Because I was not spoiled at all! I was just drawing when I was 8 years old. Between robots, there are some that aren’t as popular as Mazinger or Gundam. One that I really like was called [Invincible Steel Man] Daitarn 3. I also really like boxing anime like Ashita no Joe or Ganbare Genki and Tiger Mask very much. When I get married, I’m going to put on the Tiger Mask on my head. [laughs]
Be sure to read our complete interview with tokidoki’s creative powerhouse Simone Legno. For more on Simone and tokidoki, you can visit their website.