Robert L. Peters

20 January 2008

Designing Design | Kenya Hara

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Tokyo, Japan

Kenya Hara recently sent me a copy of his latest book, Designing Design, a remarkable new title (in English!) from Lars Müller Publishers (ISBN-13: 978-3-03778-105-0)… elegant, thought-provoking, and contemplative. Read a Core77 book review by Robert Blinn here.

Hara’s been called “Japan’s preeminent art director at the beginning of the 21st century” (John Maeda), and has been described as “precise and rigorous… both the timely delivery-boy of communication and the inventor of exformation, struggling and toying with acquiring knowledge and deleting excess in both disciplines…” (Li Edelkoot). I had the pleasure of working closely with Kenya Hara over the course of several years (re: the development of themes, branding, and marketing of VISUALOGUE, the 2003 Icograda World Congress in Nagoya)—I can certainly attest to his remarkable capacity for deep reflection re: all things design, and I’d highly recommend Designing Design to anyone interested in the essence of Japanese aesthetics and simplicity in modern design.

Photos: book cover; Shigeru Ban’s “re-design” of toilet paper (the squared center tube generates resistance thereby reducing consumption—also helps rolls stack well); light designer Kaoru Mende’s natural-twig “re-design” of the match (he calls them ‘Anniversary Matches,’ for special occasions); and Hara’s own clever design of “floating watches” for the new Nicolas G. Hayek Center building, the Swatch Group’s branch office on Ginza Street in Tokyo (a myriad of watch images projected from the ceiling above tell time accurately and come into focus at the exact height of the passersby [on the rough stone floor the projections appear only as dim red spots of light]).

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