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by Kenya Hara (Lars Müller)

Design Anthology - - Contents -

Up­com­ing and new books on de­sign, art, in­te­ri­ors and ar­chi­tec­ture from some of the world's best pub­lish­ers

De­sign­ing Ja­pan is the re­sult of two years' worth of col­umns writ­ten by Kenya Hara for Tosho mag­a­zine, orig­i­nally un­der the rubric ‘The Ed­u­ca­tion of De­sire', which the leg­endary de­signer sees less as con­sump­tion-fo­cused mar­ket­ing and more as cul­ti­vat­ing hu­man de­sire through in­ter­ac­tion with re­fined de­sign in all ar­eas of life.

Ac­cord­ing to Hara, this con­cept is more valid than ever given Ja­pan's un­prece­dented so­cial and eco­nomic cir­cum­stances, i.e. a dia­lec­tic of na­tivism ver­sus West­ern­i­sa­tion orig­i­nat­ing from the Meiji Restora­tion. He ar­gues for a fu­ture driven by the in­ten­tion­al­ity of de­sign and in­formed by the aes­thetic sen­si­bil­ity that un­der­pins Ja­pan's ap­proach to work and in­dus­try but firmly fo­cused on the fu­ture. Spread over six cat­e­gories, top­ics range from de­sign plat­forms and the tax­o­nomic to homes, ma­te­ri­als, tourism and the re-con­cep­tu­al­i­sa­tion of growth, with aes­thet­ics be­com­ing the pri­mary re­source in the nat­u­ral re­source-starved na­tion.

The work marks the first pre­sen­ta­tion of these ideas in English, and Hara ex­plic­itly courts non-Ja­panese peo­ple as part of the dia­logue. And while Hara's con­cep­tion of Ja­panese cul­ture is highly rei­fied, the dis­til­la­tion con­trib­utes to the clar­ity of his ideas, mak­ing for a fas­ci­nat­ing read.

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