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Designing Design

4.50  ·  Rating details ·  777 ratings  ·  51 reviews
Representing a new generation of designers in Japan, Kenya Hara (born 1958) pays tribute to his mentors, using long overlooked Japanese icons and images in much of his work. In Designing Design, he impresses upon the reader the importance of emptiness in both the visual and philosophical traditions of Japan, and its application to design, made visible by means of numerous ...more
Hardcover, 467 pages
Published September 1st 2007 by Lars Muller Publishers (first published October 22nd 2003)
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Jul 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: art
Imagine a world in which every single object you use or consume, a clock, a juice carton, toilet paper, a book, is a non-mass produced work of art. Is that possible? Japanese graphic designer Kenya Hara thinks so, creating his uniquely clean and fresh-looking products as if it is. Ever since Manet painted his Olympia artists have been trying to remove the institutional wall that separates art from the viewing experience, as it sits at a distance from us at salons, galleries and museums ("Of cour ...more
Annie Su
Jan 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020, art-design
kenya hara has very interesting conceptions in design!! I really like his ideas about ex-formation and how invigorating it can be to make things unknown ...and known again (photographic project in refashioning a river to make it look like roads) ?? this reminds me of being born and reborn and looking at the world as a child everyday. this seems like a good way to live, no?
also, unsurprisingly, this book is one of the most well-designed ones I've ever read/seen O:
Dec 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: design
Its pink winter morning, I am wrapped in a thick woollen blanket in my garden, freezing the tip of my nose, reading this book. I spent so many pink mornings with it. It took me places - geographically, historically, and inner places of discovery.

I haven't heard of Kenya Hara, a veteran Japanese designer, until his books popped into my suggestions on Amazon. I couldn't resist and bought two.

In this book Kenya says that in order to innovate we should pay attention to two things - really understand
Dennis Littrell
Aug 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Articulating and demonstrating the epitome in modern design

This is an extraordinarily beautiful book in which scores of works by graphic designers are presented, commended upon and sometimes explained by famed Japanese graphic designer Kenya Hara.

There is no way I can do justice to the beauty of this book or to the insightful text by Hara or to the range of design displayed. You have to see the book yourself to really appreciate the fact that, of all the gorgeous designs presented within--and th
Sep 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
i don't know how to describe it, except lovely and bright and quiet with a dash of humor if you tilt your head -- anyway, this tome by Kenya Hara (graphic designer/art director of Muji) articulates some of his projects (a set of macaroni redesigns from architects to illustrate the nature of the discipline! redesigns of everyday products!) in a way that lays bare some of the energies behind his processes. i'm just rambling but it's really lovely

there's this really beautiful analogy somewhere: so
Donny Truong
Jun 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-design
The first part of Kenya Hara’s Designing Design devotes to redesign projects of daily products. For example, Shigeru Ban turned a round roll of toilet paper into a square roll. In term of functionality, a square roll creates more resistance than a round roll; therefore, it reduces usage. In addition, square rolls are easier to stack and fit easier than round rolls. The book features dozens of case studies that focuses on design thinking with fascinating visual examples. An eye-opening and beauti ...more
May 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
After reading White, I'm really fascinated by Kenya Hara’s work and thoughts. This book didn't disappoint: sure, it's a monograph basically, and monographs tend to be boring and self indulgent occasionally, but this isn't that at all. It's full of fascinating thoughts and ideas about what design should be, and how Hara's design intermixes with the world. ...more
Chris Beiser
Jun 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
I was worried at first that I was walking into another book by a designer with great competence at managing aesthetic detail but little ability to deal with theory in a rigorous way. This is not that. This is the most phenomenologically rigorous book I have read by a working designer in recent memory, as well as being impressively aware of its social context.

Particularly deft is the treatment of sensation and perception, which is impressive not just in its accuracy, but in the deftness with whic
Jimmy Nadēr
Jan 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Highly recommended book for anyone in the creative field, especially for graphic designers, product designers or Architects. I truly enjoyed this book passing through the many interesting projects of Kenya Hara, depicting all of the creative process and conceptual thinking leading to the end results. His minimalistic approach will make you rethink the way we create things and their communication with the human-kind.

I even felt the book in itself as a "design" object between my hands, which its c
Đăng Anh
Nov 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
As the description written by himself, Kenya Hara is truly "a man who lives with Design" all his life.
What interests me the most is the way he mentioned how designers should've been focused more on the essence of "things", as a whole, rather than solely relying on visual/concept. Through separate projects, Kenya Hara's philosophy in adequate ways of living and thinking, which has sculpted his way of design, is coherently exhibited.
Julyssa Nateras
Apr 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites, art-design
A near perfect composition highlighting Hara's personal work, design theory, and a brief overview of some of the defining points in design history. My most valued take-away from this read was the improvement in my ability to articulate the meaning and significance of design. Hara accomplishes this without filler, yet with an abundance of eloquence. ...more
François Hurtaud
The title was ambitious so I was curious 🤓 I would say that the content is deceiving. The book is oddly structured mixing retrospective of some of his work, conceptual projects and some student research. There is an interesting chapter about the color White and the last chapter about the modern history of Design was quite compelling. A pity it was too short!
Rohit Gupta
Jul 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An amazing book the expresses the true sensibilities of design. The book takes you on a philosophical tour of Japanese design and enables you to appreciate it.
Dec 06, 2017 rated it liked it
I absolutely love Kenya Hara's design work. Sadly, the poorly written pages combine samples of work, reviews of other designers and random rants. It's slow to read and hardly engaging. ...more
Daniel Teh
Jan 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A delightfully enlightening book on the process and mind of Muji's art director, Kenya Hara. Especially for those who are particularly disjoint from the creative world. ...more
Maria Jose Barrenechea
Aug 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: art-design
A must read for every designer.
Jan 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Kenya Hara is a genius and this book is in depth look into his design philosophy.
Pudi Ravi
Jan 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a great book to look through and get a sense of the aesthetic of simplicity. The photographs, even though they are of products, are uplifting. They have an ethereal quality to them.
Oct 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: art-design
It's a beautiful and pleasant to read look into the design philosophy of Kenya Hara. ...more
Ani Banerjee
Design as a life's work and meditation. I think this is the best book I've read that explains the the designer's mind and some of it's workings. ...more
Jun 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Designing Design is a fundamental book about design helpful for builders of all kind. Almost every page has either a quote to remember or an image to awe ar. If ever I’ll turn dictator, you can bet your ass this will become a mandatory read.
Mikkel Victor
Jul 26, 2020 rated it it was ok
This book has been on my shelve for a while now, and I finally got around to read it.
I had high expectations for this book, which might have influenced my assertion of it, as I was a bit disappointed.

The design and layout of the book are at a superb level, as it might be one of the most well-designed books I have. It is also in the presentation of his (Kenya) design work, that this book shines, as he explains thought processes and concepts behind a variety of design projects, showing that he mov
Daniel Gormly
Dec 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
A series of self-contained chapters, usually tying a particular theme or philosophical approach to design with a category or exhibition of work Kenya's been involved with. An unpretentious, robust modernist designer with delicate sensibilities. Muses on touch, the value of the empty vessel as a means of empowering the imagination, of the distinctive qualities and philosophy of Japanese aesthetics, of modernism, ecology and the origins of design.

Design exists as a recognition of the infinite numb
Jul 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A must read for designers and non-designers alike. Kenya Hara's sometimes fanatical approach to design and design ideas are refreshing and perhaps out of the ordinary. And he does it without being provocative or vulgar, but simply by going back to the basics of design, going back to our innermost and basic senses, by relooking at things that perhaps the naked eye might have missed, and then re-exploring them with our senses. I mean who would have known the simplicity of the macaroni design, and ...more
Annie Luo
Jan 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
A great introductory book for designers. I love the part where Hara explains the global vision of MUJI and his concept of white in the last half of the book. His philosophy for aesthetics in design is truly astounding and inspiring. I also adore his discussion of "What is Design?" in the very last chapter of the book. Here, he discusses in depth about the relation of design and technology, as well as the future direction for art and design development in a technological-driven society.

Oct 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, design
This book should be on every Designers reading list. Kenya Hara is a great writer who explores design with humility and honest inquiry (read: without ego). The opening chapters and the final chapter are the best, it is worth it to go through the entire book though.

Why was this book so good? Kenya Hara's looks at design from a philosophy about how to approach life. Less eloquently than he phrases it, I summarize it as this; design is not a performance, but an inquiry into everyday life.

His writi
Feb 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I bought this book as a gift for a good friend and was so foolish as to not purchase a second copy at the same time. Scope this puppy out at and weep: it is out of print and new copies are commanding more than $1200. I finally snagged my own copy on an on-line auction site that shall remain nameless and am rapidly devouring it. There is balm in Gilead for the visually inept!
Stefan Belavy
Jan 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Stefan by: freddy anzures
Hara's a poet and a genius...this book reminds me of what's missing in the day to day creative process. I think it's a must read for any one in the creative field. It's a thing of beauty too - content and object, unified. ...more
Jun 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Kenya Hara is a brilliant and influential designer, writer, curator, and business leader. This book is an elegant and poetic account of his ideas and projects. It is both fascinating to read and engaging to look at. It is also impeccably designed and produced by Hara, a true designer/author.
Aug 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This was one of the books that changed my view on design. The books is a compilation of projects that truly appreciates details and the way design refines such details that make a difference in our lives.
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Kenya Hara (born 1958) is a Japanese graphic designer and curator. He is a graduate of Musashino Art University.

Hara has been the art director of Muji since 2001 and designed the opening and closing ceremony programs of the Nagano Winter Olympic Games 1998. He published Designing Design, in which he elaborates on the importance of “emptiness” in both the visual and philosophical traditions of Japa

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These twelve books are so consistently adored, they have become regulars month after month in our data of most popular and most read books on...
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“I used to believe that design was information architecture, and also that this architecture was built in the brain of an information recipient. Recently I've come to think that, although the materials of that architecture's construction are indeed the information brought from the outside by the sensory organs, at the same time some very important building blocks are also the recollected experiences, the memories, awakened by these external stimuli. People imagine the world and interpret it when outside stimuli awaken the mountain of their internally stored memories.” 1 likes
“The human brain likes anything that entails a great amount of information. Its excessive capacity waits eagerly to perceive the world by completely exhausting its great receptive powers. That potential power, though, remains today in a state of extreme constriction and is a source of the information stress we're all under.” 0 likes
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