Play Fair is an elegant deck of playing cards designed by Japanese close-up magician Kei Izumi. Having used the standard Bicycle decks for most of his performances, Kei soon got bored and wanted a change. He discovered that the simpler the design of the cards, the longer he would use them. He then started designing playing cards that he would really want to use.
The result is deck of playing cards that combines strong solid colours and sophisticated design with familiar face cards similar to the well-known American Standards design. Pure elegance and no doubt very versatile deck suitable for the working magician, cardists and poker players.
We caught up with Kei and managed to chat about his design background, the inspiration & design process behind Play Fair, Kickstarter and his favourite reward level from the project.
Can you tell us about yourself and what is your design background?
I'm Keisuke Izumi and Japanese (I know it's too long! Please call me Kei). I was born and raised in Kagawa prefecture. The population is quite small, so I had very few magic friends. When I was a teenager I went to Tokyo and attended several magic convention in order to meet and make friends with people who are into magic, and that was the first time I met Mahka Tendo, the FISM 1985 winner in Manipulation!
My design background? Hmm... I have never been thought about design. I'm just a... typical Japanese!!
This will be the first Japanese playing cards project on Kickstarter. When did you first start thinking about using Kickstarter for the project? What made you decide to take the plunge?
For two years I have been watching Kickstarter and sometimes when some cool projects make me go "Woah!!" I would back them. Sooner or later - I don't know why but - I wanted to make a deck of cards by myself. But at that time I had no idea how to launch the project on Kickstarter, and how to design the playing cards - I had a lot of things that I didn't know.
Years later, I chatted with a friend of mine and he gave me some details of playing cards like price per unit and minimum order etc etc.. I believe I can make a deck of cards with him. The problem was I don't have capital. Of course I can use some Japanese crowd funding sites, but Japanese aren't used to donation. I believe it would be hard if I launched the project in Japan. That's why I decided to dive into the Kickstarter universe.
What is your inspiration behind the Play Fair deck? How did you come up with the idea?
Before I became a photographer, I worked as a professional close-up magician. I performed magic in local restaurants and magic bars. I loved performing card magic but I get bored easily. I mean, I use the Bicycle Rider Back most days, but I always want to change it to something else.
I don't know why, but a few years later, I finally realize that the simpler the design, the longer I would use them. So I started making a simple design. One day I came up with an idea; How about a magician performs magic with a deck called "play fair"?
It is funny, right? A magicians uses "play fair"! I snapped my fingers and decided to create the design for this concept!
Walk us through the process you took to design this unique deck. How did you get to this finished product?
Basically I was a professional close-up magician. I have had a lot of thoughts and ideas with my magic buddies! So then I tried incorporating all their ideas in to the Play Fair design as much as possible! For example, most card magicians know an extra joker is unnecessary. A back design of tuck case should be same as a back of card. A border should be thin because it looks beautiful when you spread the cards on table. Something like that!
This might make Play Fair sound unconventional. That's true! No background story on the design at all. I am aware that this kind of design is totally unattractive to most of serious card collectors.... but I really want to make a deck of cards for real close-up workers. And please don't forget, this kind of design is also cool for serious flourishers!
How did I make the product? I just printed the design on postcard and glue on Bicycle with scotch tape!! Very easy.
From the project page, what are a few of your favorite reward levels and why?
Very tough question! I prefer a brick because I believe this deck is very practical and designed for daily use! To back one or two is also nice. Of course the handmade wood deck case is AWESOME!!! Believe me, everybody will fall in love with this!
We love the beautifully crafted wooden deck case. Very unique! Can you tell us a little about it and how it came about?
Yes! A friend of mine Yao from Taiwan is a specialist in handmade wood products. He makes everything with wood. When I go to somewhere and find something cool made by wood, I always ask him "Can you make this?" And he always replies "Of course"!! When I first received the sample, I was astonished with the quality! I love his creativity, and I am very honored to work with my best friend, Yao!!
Finally, what are your favourite playing card decks?
I LOVE many deck of cards! That is the most difficult thing to choose just one! If I should choose one deck only, I will pick the Ace Fulton's Casino deck made by a friend of mine Brad Fulton. I respect all of his works from the bottom of my heart, and I have to choose his deck first. I'm here thanks to you, Brad!
Awesome Kei! All the best! At the time of writing, the project is 81% funded with 9 days to go. If want to support the Play Fair deck, you can find it on Kickstarter here.
Pledge starts from $15 and there are multiple add-ons available such as the uncut sheet and the beautiful wooded deck case made by his good friend Yao. The deck case comes in two colours, Smoke Wood and Old House.