Posted in education on April 24, 2014 2:25 pm EDT

The Essence of Japanese Design

New book by Kenya Hara on the origins of Japanese design, in "WA: The Essence of Japanese Design."











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TAGS: book, design,


By Church Designer Staff

"...extreme plainness-emptiness-can invite a variety of interpretations... This kind of emptiness is reflected in Japan's architecture, spaces, gardens, ikebana and poetry, as well as contemporary design."

Japanese design evokes a timeless simplicity that has existed for hundreds of years. In the mid-15th century when the rest of the world placed a premium on elaborate forms, Japan had established a unified, spare aesthetic that combined practicality and taste. From richly lacquered 17th-century wooden bento boxes to delicately illustrated paper fans of the 18th century to the pure lines of 16th-century raku ware tea bowls, objects from centuries ago paved the way for contemporary Japanese design. WA: The Essence of Japanese Design (March 2014, $79.95) is a richly illustrated exploration of the beauty, impact, and essence of 300 key objects that exemplify Japanese design.

Opening with an essay that is a personal response to Japanese design by Kenya Hara, art director of Muji since 2001, WA spotlights objects that span many hundreds of years and range from everyday household items to couture fashion. This volume is organized by material: wood, paper, metal, ceramics, synthetics, and fibers and textiles in order to emphasize the vital connection between design and material in Japan. Each chapter is introduced by an essay that documents the roots and evolution of design in that particular material, followed by a selection of diverse objects. Inspired pairings juxtapose traditional pieces with fine designer objects; ancient items with iconic contemporary works. In the chapter on paper, for example, traditional paper lanterns are paired with Isamu Nogushi's Akari A1 Lamp and in the chapter on wood, a rattan bustier designed by Issey Miyake echoes the lines of a simple bamboo and rattan flower basket.

From the most basic objects, such as the ubiquitous Kikkoman soy sauce dispenser, to fine designs from such important Japanese designers as Shiro Kurumata, Naoto Fukasawa, and Sori Yanagari, hundreds of superb photographs demonstrate their strong and enduring Japanese character. A gorgeous physical object itself, WA: The Essence of Japanese Design is printed on craft paper and bound in the traditional Japanese style.

For more information on WA or if you'd like to purchase your copy today (visit link)


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