Mieko Murao was born in Tokyo, Japan. She independently established a graphic design firm “Natural Graphic” at the age of 19. The company, including her 8 employees, was acquired by a web development firm “Jambase” as its design division. After serving as the Vice President and Senior Designer, she decided to leave and establish Graphnetwork, an online-contents production company focusing on user-friendly design. From ideation to system development, Graphnetwork provides everything from a website’s start-up to getting it up-and-running, and beyond. Her innovative ideas, strategies and thoughtful designs have led the company to become one of the leading web development firms in Japan and it has produced over 1,000 websites and Apps. After she devoted her time as the CEO and designer of Graphnetwork for a decade, she moved to Los Angeles to expand the company globally.
She obtained her investment-visa by purchasing a restaurant. She established a company and produced several restaurants in Los Angeles, and sold them all for profit. 3 years later, she shifted her gear towards UI/UX design for the clients she gained from the food/entertainment industry. During this time she realized that doing businesses in the U.S. had its own set of rules and cultures, and having those knowledge would have complemented the lessons she learned on the front lines. This realization sets her on a journey that takes her from University of The People to UC Berkeley to MIT. She completed her bachelor’s degree at UC Berkeley, while raising her son and maintaining her businesses. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree at MIT IDM (integrated design and management) program and researching deeper in Design Thinking. In 2020, she also founded a shop called Crane and Turtle in Boston, to introduce Japan-made household items that are sustainable and practical, which advocates mitigation of wastes, and the culture of cherishing things. She continues to research and develop human centered design products and services.
MIKO ( Mieko Murao )
My art practice utilizes conventions of design to subvert expectations of the viewer, as well as invite the viewer to question assumptions. Drawing from my experience as a professional designer, I have utilized both para-fictional strategies and unexpected content, to scrutinize systems of capitalism, unethical business conducts, and racism. My research interests include racial formation studies, color theory, and business and economic orders because they are entrenched in our society. I want to deeply learn about these systems in order to make change. Western art and design culture has long been narrating expectations and tastes, which are rooted within the economic apparatus of privilege, access, class and power. The inquiries at the core of my art practice question how and for whom, art and design are created, and furthermore, whom do they serve to empower?
I often make art about “business” because I’m extremely interested in the degree of impact it makes on us. How one thinks/acts/purchases are closely tied to their extent of success and that paradigm seems inevitable under a capitalistic society. As a business owner and an artist, I am fascinated with the workings of such system, and it is crucial that I understand it, in order to pursue either alternatives or improvements.
What would it look like for an artist to operate outside of the conventional art setting, and how might the artist in a business setting disrupt dogmatic operations?
These are integral questions to my art, and my study of business.