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Designing Design

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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 examples from his own work: Hara for instance designed the opening and closing ceremony programs for the Nagano Winter Olympic Games 1998. In 2001, he enrolled as a board member for the Japanese label MUJI and has considerably moulded the identity of this successful corporation as communication and design advisor ever since. Kenya Hara, alongside Naoto Fukasawa one of the leading design personalities in Japan, has also called attention to himself with exhibitions such as “Re-Design: The Daily Products of the 21st Century” of 2000.

467 pages, Hardcover

First published October 22, 2003

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About the author

Kenya Hara

43 books98 followers
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 Japan, and its application to design. In 2008, Hara partnered with fashion label Kenzo for the launch of its men's fragrance Kenzo Power.

Hara is a leading design personality in Japan and in 2000 had his own exhibition “Re-Design: The Daily Products of the 21st Century”.

(from Wikipedia)

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Profile Image for Stephen.
99 reviews81 followers
July 2, 2014
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 course it's art, it's a Picasso"). As a leading member of the Mujirushi Ryohin (無印良品) movement in design, or Muji for short, which literally means "non-brand quality goods", this has been a goal for Kenya Hara. Even as he relies on corporate sponsorship to remove this wall. Sounds like a major contradiction, and few are pointing this out.


Part of what makes Kenya Hara (b. 1958) such a highly visible figure is that for an artist he is unusually articulate about what he's doing. Most abstract artists leave the messaging to others, hoping to get things right without having to explain themselves. Not Kenya Hara. As a theorist, essayist and lecturer, he loves to talk about his work.

"I've already filled every day of his schedule until 2015. I've turned down at least 15 to 20 interviews this month just because I couldn't find the time for them. We were only able to fit you in because of a cancellation," says Yoshino Nihonyanagi, Hara's busy-beaver personal assistant (her family name means "Japanese weeping willow"). It's interesting that the writer of the January 4, 2014 Japan Times feature on Hara, from which this quote is taken, felt the need to include this annoying little reminder.


A visionary, Hara asks us to re-imagine things we have become accustomed to. In his essay "Design that Views the World from the Edge of Asia" (2006), he asks us to look at Japan on the map not as the right ear to the Eurasian super-continent (with Britain being its left), but as a drainage cup with Japan on bottom into which all things on the land-mass eventually filter through to Tokyo. It is true, Tokyo, and Japanese culture in general, is marked by a limitless curiosity, making it one of the truly cosmopolitan centers of the world.

I am interested in Hara because he takes the impulse of great artists - looking into the essence of things - and sees what this knowledge might have to say when combined with the essence of business. Every business has its reasons for existing in society, says Hara. No matter what you create it's important to imagine yourself as a client of some powerful interest. If you are an artist engaged with culture at large, it's a bit juvenile to pretend business has no place in the matrix. Why not embrace business not unlike the influence of nature? Surely a corporation isn't as awful as a tsunami. It is noteworthy that Muji emphasizes handicraft and not technology and computers.

Though Hara's products look luscious, tactile to the sight, edible even, I am wondering who can afford to follow this vision (or purchase this book, for that matter, itself a luxury item). Some of his ideas are engaging. Most are shopworn, traditional to a fault: how the Japanese prefer simplicity (kanketsu) over Western noise - or its preference for delicateness (sensai), meticulousness (chimitsu), attention to detail (teinei). Or his out-of-touchness when he talks about the decline of post-Second World War Japanese industrial power, which has resulted in the diminishing of manufacturing jobs - "industry is now reaching its end" - he says, as if it's a matter of fact, that this can be replaced with aesthetic value alone. What results when you reach this level of self-importance is something like Hara's Architecture for Dogs exhibit, where our pets get better treatment than those who have nowhere else to go. Though I am sure dog owners in Manhattan will eat all this up.


Still, it has been worth it engaging with Hara's vision. I am still in search of a language for the great beauty I feel in Japan's cosmopolitan sectors, in places like Sapporo, Tokyo or Fukuoka, or as present in its contemporary art. Architecture and design has its poetic qualities, and Japan's great poetic tradition can be found in such unlikely places as department stores and alleyways filled with noodle shops. The aesthetic tradition in Japan is woven into the social fabric in ways that are inconceivable in America, largely because we've really only had our footing in the arts for about a hundred years now. We definitely have style in America, but precisely to the degree we could care less about aesthetics - it has its charms. I am unaware, for instance, of any American attempting to make "non-brand quality goods" based on a theory of the arts going back more than a thousand years like you'd find with Kenya Hara.
Profile Image for Ruth.
79 reviews31 followers
December 18, 2020
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 the origins, the historical and cultural backgrounds of whatever it is we are designing and that we should work (really hard sometimes) to uncover our blindspots - what is it that we are taking for granted about this design or problem space? Is it the shape, the context, the whole concept? When we truly understand these two, there will be myriad different ways in which the insights can be combined in the act of design to create something new.

The outcomes of this measured, deeply reflective approach to design are mind-boggling.

"The more firmly we are convinced that we've identified an object, the less precisely we understand it. The 21st century is an age of discovery of astonishingly fine designs found right in our midst, in our daily lives. We used to design mere stimulation, but now we are part ways with that past and look at the ordinary with clear eyes, to yield new thinking on design."

In this (beautifully designed) book he goes through a series of projects where he proves this point in many different ways, this not a one-trick pony approach of rehashing the same idea dressing it in different clothing. He tells us how we can reconstruct things, places and concepts, change our point of view and as a result, see things in the familiar that we have never seen before.

The book starts with a project called Re-Design which ended up being an exhibition where a number of designers created new versions of products that we are all familiar with but so used to that we stopped seeing them. My favourite product redesign here was a redesign of an adult diaper. It's not because it got an ultra-new form or function (although the diaper definitely got a new much more attractive form) it's a few choices the designer made around its placement that gave the diaper a new lease of life attacking the shame that is attached to this product, not just the visual form, that amazed me.

The next is a chapter about Haptic Design (awakening the senses) that looks at how we perceive things physically. My favourite take-out from this chapter is how Kenya took a quote from the physicist Herman Ludwig Helmholtz - "Everything is an event on the skin" and explored it in depth.

"Come to think of it, the sense of sight is a response to the stimulus of the retina, a circular membrane 4 centimetres in diameter. The sense of hearing is likewise a response to movement of air that's perceived by the eardrum, a membrane only 8 mm in diameter set deep in the ear [...] A human being is like a rubber ball wrapped in an extremely delicate membrane. Different areas on the ball's surface elicit a different sense."

This chapter is relevant to any type of designer. Product, architects, software designers.

I am not going to talk about all the chapters, there are eight in total, each written to turn your understanding of Design, and the Meaning of things, on its head. I will just say that my favourite chapter was chapter 5, on Muji, an award-winning brand of furniture where Kenya was tasked with creating the brand's vision. He breaks apart what the brand stands for and how they arrived at "Acceptance not Appetite" approach that is at the heart of this brand.
Acceptance, not Appetite... it really got me thinking, the way Kenya explains this modest brand goal really surprised me.

In this book, I discovered two fascinating authors that were new to me that write about Design and will be my further reading:
- Richard Saul Wurman
- Naoto Fukasawa
Profile Image for Annie Su.
264 reviews7 followers
January 31, 2020
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:
Profile Image for Carmen.
52 reviews12 followers
September 18, 2022
Incredible book by Kenya Hara on his design philosophy informed by Zen and Japanese tradition, work at MUJI, how Japan relates to the rest of the world, harmony with nature, and modernism.

He is a designer that loves the color white, values emptiness and simplicity, and isn't interested in making things that turn heads. He wants to reveal the beauty in the mundane, and improve people's everyday lives in small ways. Contrasted with Western individuality and boldness, his approach appears understated, but is no less meaningful.

At MUJI, they want to make things that make people go, "that'll do"—but offer the highest level of quality that still elicits this content acceptance. He argues this gives a degree of freedom not available to those steeped in Western thought of always trying to buy things that stand out. When a creation doesn't stand out as much and serves as an empty vessel, it leaves room for it to adapt to a variety of environments and lifestyles, room for people to add meaning of their own.

There is an element of playfulness in his ideas, because he is willing to take something familiar and change it up slightly such that it provokes inspiration or thought. With his haptic explorations, he is interested in appealing to our senses to push the range of communication done through design. He reminds me that we don't have to look far, or do something radically different, to create beauty.

The book contains lots of images and design inspiration, could serve as a coffee table book even if you don't read any of the text. Interestingly, doesn't provide a lot of background about his life or career, which I was hoping to learn. I guess he wanted to focus more on his ideas than his life, which I can respect.

Favorite quotes:

"I have long thought that raising questions is more important than giving answers. Creativity is to discover a question that has never been asked. If one brings up an idiosyncratic question, the answer he gives will necessarily be unique as well."

"We don't want to be the thing that kindles or incites intense appetite, causing outbursts like, "This is what I really want," or "I simply must have this." If most brands are after that, MUJI should be after its opposite. We want to give customers the kind of satisfaction that comes out as "this will do," not "this is what I want." It's not appetite, but acceptance. Even within acceptance, however, there is an appropriate level. Our goal is to elevate it as high as is possible."

"The wellspring of MUJI design has nothing to do with fashion or the mood of the day. Our target is neither youth nor age. We don't pay any more attention than necessary leading technology. The ethos of MUJI is interest in people. Our concern is for those who work and rest, sharing the planet of today: people who create their living space with realistic expectations, have fun with their attire, eat safe food, sleep, go on a trip now and then, face the usual ups and downs, laughter and tears-ordinary people. MUJI's role, accomplished through more than 7,000 MUJI products, is to continue to help people have a life that's a little happier each day."

"Since ancient times, the Japanese have believed that wisdom resides in nature and human beings live by basking in the wisdom of nature. This differs from the Western conceptual climate, which posits wisdom on the part of human beings and states that nature, an undomesticated wilderness, should be controlled by human intellect."

(on identities designed for popularity) "[Y]ou can tackle its maturity and tranquility head on, and even after these have fermented to perfection, you don't have to advertise it to the public, just leave it in its isolation, in the depths of the forest, beyond the wisps of rising mist. Anything that is superb will be discovered, without fail. Identity is that sort of power, and should certainly become a great source of communication."

"Constantly pushing the era forward isn't always progress. We stand between the future and the past. I wonder if we could discover a key to our creativity not in that far-off target at which all of society stares so intently, but rather in the extension of a vision that looks right through society from the past. The future lies ahead of us, but behind us there is also a great accumulation of history-a resource for imagination and creativity. I think we call "creative" that dynamism of intellectual conception that flows back and forth between the future and the past."

"All design thought, whether of Ruskin and Morris or of the Bauhaus, has had a socialistic tint. Both Ruskin and Morris abhorred being controlled by an economy in which making things was synonymous with machine production, and because the birth of the Bauhaus was enabled by the social-democratic government in Weimar, it can be said that the social-democratic trend fostered the Bauhaus way of thinking. Basically, the concept of design was conceived and developed in no small measure on the premise of idealistic social ethics. Now, within the intense magnetic field of economic principle, the purer the concept, the less able it is to live up to its ideal."

"Design is not the act of amazing an audience with the novelty of forms or materials; it is the originality that repeatedly extracts astounding ideas from the crevices of the very commonness of everyday life."

"The projects I've been involved in are like ball games of all sorts. If I liken them to tennis, it's as if a succession of top players were making strong returns of every subtle serve I had made on the corner. I return the ball too, and it takes yet another subtle course. This is how HAPTIC, RE-DESIGN and other such projects have come to be."

"We used to fill our imaginations with the glamour of achieving happiness by sending a virtual self to live in cyberspace, but we've realized that virtual happiness cannot become real happiness ... And so I wonder, in this context, if there may be something yet dormant in our sensory perceptions, an undiscovered American Continent of the senses. Has no one begun the work of exploring this undiscovered continent on the world atlas of the senses?"

(on art vs. design) "Art is an expression of an individual's will to society at large, one whose origin is very much of a personal nature. So only the artist knows the source of his own work. This loftiness is what makes art so cool. Design, on the other hand, is basically not self-expression. Instead, it originates in society. The essence of design lies in the process of discovering a problem shared by many people and trying to solve it."

"Any example of ornamentation or decoration from another Asian region will reveal dense, elaborate details. On the opposite end of the scale is the Japanese concept of contentment with simplicity and emptiness. … Perhaps our ancestors came up with the idea of stopping them all in their tracks, negating them with the utmost simplicity: zero. They must have arrived at the sensibility of balancing everything with nothingness."

"Look at the big picture and work on the task at hand."
Profile Image for Стефан Русинов.
Author 15 books174 followers
August 19, 2014
“Вербализирането на дизайна също е вид дизайн” — това изречение седи само върху огромна бяла страница още преди началото на книгата и Кеня Хара се придържа към този дизайнерски принцип на писане през цялото време. Целта на книгата е същата като тази на дизайна по принцип — организирането на цял един свят така, че да бъде отчужден, усетен и осмислен. И най-вече — така, че да бъдат разбрани собствените познателни ограничения.

Основно понятие в мисленето на Хара е “непознатото”, “неизвестното”. Според него именно то поддържа човешкия мозък активен, затова целта на дизайна “не е посредством нови форми и материали да омае публиката, а непрекъснато да рови във фугите на ежедневието и да извлича оттам чудата творческа сила и оригиналност”.

Заглавието на една от изложбите му, представена в книгата, е Exformation — дума, която самият Хара е измислил, съставена от представката “еx” и втората част на “information”. За него състоянието на информационно изобилие, в което днешният свят предполагаемо се намира, всъщност е лъжовно. Разпокъсаната информация, която медиите излъчват, макар и изключително богата и разнообразна, не притежава никаква истинска информационна стойност. Той я нарича “полуготова” информация и на нея се дължи информационното претрупване и мозъчното напрежение, което усещаме, когато сме изложени на нея — не заради свръх количеството й, а заради недостига на качеството й. Затова и каузата на дизайна не е информация, а ексформация — не да направи от непознатото познато, а да ни накара да разберем колко малко всъщност знаем. “Разбирането на едно нещо не означава да можем да го дефинираме или опишем, а да вземем това нещо, което мислим, че познаваме, и да го превърнем в непознато, да предизвикаме в себе си ново усещане за същността му и така да задълбочим познанието си за него.”

Кеня Хара неколкократно набляга колко надценено е знанието. Според него “знанието не е цел, а отправна точка на въображението.” То е “вход към размишление” и обмяна на представи. Крайната цел на информационният дизайн е да даде на читателя сила. Той съществува като професия не просто за да предава или опакова информация, нито за да демонстрира най-новите технологии, а за да “дърпа ушите и очите ни към откриването на нови въпроси в обикновеното ни ежедневие”. Той е стимул за сетивата ни, който ни предоставя нов поглед към света.

Хара изразява и умерен скепсис към новите технологии, които се развиват твърде бързо, без да им остава време да се поучат от грешките си, да се подобрят и установят, защото незабавно биват заменени от следващото поколение технологии. Според него технологиите са важно и нужно нещо, но те трябва да се развиват с много по-бавни темпове, за да постигнат стабилност. “Придобиването на нова технология не е с цел да се овладее и управлява природата, като безразсъдно й се нанасят необратими щети, а напротив — е метод, чрез който се извлича скритата същност на природата и който и придава нов жизнен блясък. Целта на технологията не е да зароби и да властва над живота, а да стимулира заключените във всеки един живот безкрайни възможности и да отвори нови сфери на смисъла.”

За да работи технологията в тази посока и за да се получават качествени продукти с именно такъв ефект, следва да се промени почвата, върху която, така да се каже, растат плодовете на дизайна. Тази почва пазарът и качеството й се определя от “нивото на желанията” на всеки индивидуален потребител. То може да бъде стимулирано така, че непрекъснато да иска нови и нови технологии и продукти, но може и да бъде контролирано така, че да облагороди почвата за по-качествен дизайн, който ще роди по-качествени продукти и по-спокоен, по-стабилен, по-естествен живот.

Кеня Хара е художественият директор една от любимите ми фирми — Muji. Един от най-присъщите дизайнерски принципи, заложен във всичките й продукти, е бялото, празното, нищото. Този мотив има безброй ефекти (самият Хара има цяла книга със заглавие “Бяло”), но един от тях е именно контролирането, а не стимулирането на желанията. Всички продукти на Muji са възможно най-прости, изчистени и скромни (аз имам тетрадка, химикалка и огледалце). В противовес на сегашното производство и консуматорство, което предизвиква по-скоро перманентна незадоволеност, идеята на тази марка е да се даде на клиента истинско усещане за задоволеност: да си каже не “точно това искам”, а “това е достатъчно”, “това става”. Според Кеня Хара “това не е вкус, а приемане”, тоест продуктите от този тип предизвикват съвсем различни мисловни и психични процеси — да се задоволяваш с достатъчното, а не да искаш още от същото. Идеалът на Кеня Хара е да доведе приемливото, задоволителноро до възможно най-висока степен на качество.

Друго, на което Хара набляга, е позитивната и реалистична стойност на дизайна. Той няма интерес да създава информация, която се противопоставя на нещо, независимо дали е ядрената енергетика, войните и т.н. Функцията на дизайна е да предначертае процеса към подобрение, независимо за какъв проблем и каква сфера става въпрос — как да закрачим към подобрение, какво трябва да направим, за да пристъпим дори една крачка напред. Информацията не е “какво не е наред”, а “какво да правим, за да стане по-добре”.

Това са само няколко от аспектите, засегнати в “Designing Design”, авторът на която, мен ако питате, е изтръгнал душата на дизайна и я е разпльокал върху 450 страници. Кеня Хара е гений с изключително обширно, оригинално и отговорно мислене и според мен книгата му е абсолютно насъщна не само за дизайнерите, а за всички, които извършват произвеждане или възприемане на информация от какъвто и да е тип, тоест — всички.

Profile Image for Dennis Littrell.
1,079 reviews44 followers
August 5, 2019
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 there are scores of them--none is more gorgeous than the book itself. I think anybody in the book business might want to take this book in hand and peruse it as an example of what can be done in book design.

There are hundreds of strikingly beautiful illustrations: color photos, photos done in brown light, in black and white, in tones of gray, in green and blue and many other colors, and in white. There are drawings and photos of drawings, and photos of objects artfully placed upon the page. From commercial products such as a cute and clever paper roach trap, to a power outlet with curves that looks somehow like a stylized mother and child, to a road designed like a river, to cultivated landscapes and hotel exteriors, the designs are exquisite and the presentation most appealing. In looking at the illustrations, one is struck with the modernity but one senses in the background the influence of ancient traditions: the clean lines of sculptured rock gardens, perhaps, the mannered elegance of the Japanese tea ceremony, the power and simplicity of the watercourse way of the Tao and--most amusingly--the impishness of Zen.

Hara begins with "re-design." Design artists are commissioned to redesign some "daily products of the 21st century"--toilet paper, matches, the roach motel, exit stamps, diapers, tea bags, and macaroni. Yes, macaroni. The toilet paper has a square core so that it clunks as it unrolls so that you don't get too much at one time; and the roll itself is square so that more rolls can be packed into shipping boxes. The matches are sticks of a reddish brown as though covered in bark with small nibbed branches and a most arresting red head. The macaroni designs done by various artists are captured in a sandalwood/peach light so that the white of the macaroni is not white, yet our minds see and feel the white and anticipate the red sauce on the strangely-shaped pasta.

Another chapter is devoted to "White." Here "the contrast of white on white" (a lyric from Counting Crows) is explored through the medium of design. Especially striking are the white, the very white, paper cabbage leaf serving bowls designed by Yasuhiro Suzuki, and Hara's own "Water Pachinko" in which crystal drops of water flow drop by drop down a pinball-like white board.

There is a chapter devoted to haptic art in which tactile, olfactory and other sensations are evoked by the artists. There is a logo drawn with cultured mold fungus, for example, and a gel doorknob like the hand of a cartoon character. Naoto Fukasawa's yellow packaging of a banana juice drink is designed so gracefully that I can feel the waxy skin of the package while the banana itself is recalled to my eyes. (pp. 92-93).

It is clear that one of the goals of design as envisioned by Hara and the Japanese school of design is to create products, advertising, and objects of culture in which functionality might meet simplicity with elegance and improve the human condition through the expression of beauty.

One of Hara's themes is the functionality of space. Space in a book is represented as white. The white exists like something ethereal and yet is as concrete as stone. Hara says we must "discover" white. He admits to being a bit tired of color. It splashes everywhere. It is so easy in the modern world to make color. Perhaps it is too easy. Perhaps it is overdone. So Hara returns to white to refresh our eyes. I recall the Great White Egret in the pond outside my window, looking almost artificial as it stands alert among the green tules and the gray-blue water. And I think of the white of Middle Eastern dress and how it reflects the light and cools the body. And yes, white is a color, as Hara explains, but also the absence of color. But more than anything, Hara says, "white is a design concept."

But then to the white we add something. A spot of red perhaps. A larger spot becomes the Japanese flag. The cross of the Red Cross is also red against the white. Hara shows that red has great power when surrounded by white. The letters on the pages are black against the white. Looked at closely some whites are gray upon the white.

"The essence of design," according to Hara, "lies in the process of discovering a problem shared by many people and trying to solve it." (p. 24)

Hara also says, "Design is the control of differences." (p. 212)

There are scores of other concepts presented by Hara and thankfully most of them are illustrated so that the power of the idea forces itself upon us. I am thinking especially of the advertising for MUJI in which the horizon dwarfs the landscape and points to something vast and global so that we are inspired and awed.

By the way, Amazon has this as a "paperback," but it is a hardcover.

I cannot say in words just how beautiful this book is. (Which is why I am repeating myself.) The people at Lars Muller are to be commended for bringing it to English speaking readers, and Maggie Kinser Hohle and Yukiko Naito for the fine translation.

I am in awe of the Hara Design Institute, Nippon Design Center, Inc. for creating this amazing book.

--Dennis Littrell, author of the mystery novel, “Teddy and Teri”
25 reviews34 followers
September 25, 2016
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: something about the perceptiveness of design recalls the richness of the infinities between any two successive integers
6 reviews1 follower
October 25, 2013
사실 이 책은 너무 심플한 커버때문에 몇번이고 무수한 책들 사이에서 지나쳐버렸던 책이다. 하지만 주변에서 여러번 추천받았고 켄야하라의 디자인을 좋아했기에 꼭 읽어봐야 겠다고 생각하던중 이번에 도서관에서 빌리게 되었고, 책커버가 이렇게 디자인된 이유와 이 책이 추천도서에 오른 이유를 다 알게 되었다.
이 책은 우리가 잘 알고있는 켄야 하라가 지향하는 단순함, 기본에충실한 조합, 심플하고 절제된 아름다움, 생략의 미등이 한데 어우러져 그의 사상과 디자인이 간결하고 일목요연하게 정리되어있다. 그는 "디자인이란, 형태나 소재의 참신함으로 놀라움을 선사하는 것이 아니라, 생활의 틈새로부터 평범하면서도 은근히 사람을 놀라게 하는 발상을 끊임없이 끄집어내는 독창성' 이라고 했다. 그가 말하는 디자인의 개념이란, 무언갈 꾸미고 포장하는 표면적 개념이 아니라 사회를 이해하고 인식하는 개선하는 과정 그 자체인 것이었다.
디자인을 공부하지 않은 사람에게도 이 책은 곱씹어보면 생각하게 하는 기회를 주기에 충분하지 않을까 싶다.
Profile Image for Donny Truong.
18 reviews2 followers
June 16, 2014
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 beautiful read.
Profile Image for Ninakix.
193 reviews21 followers
May 3, 2015
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.
75 reviews48 followers
June 15, 2017
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 which it is exposited.

A very, very strong work.
Profile Image for Jimmy Nadēr.
26 reviews
January 5, 2020
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 carefully selected paper, its jackets, and neat layouts.
Profile Image for Anh Đăng.
2 reviews
November 20, 2020
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.
Profile Image for Julyssa.
15 reviews1 follower
April 15, 2020
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.
July 28, 2020
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!
Profile Image for Lewis Ngugi.
58 reviews6 followers
April 13, 2023
It’s not just for designers. Everyone should read as it opens the door to thinking differently about the day-to-day. The book recognizes that design perception is a multi-modal experience. You get transformed and transferred to a unique experience 🙌🏾 Worth the read
Profile Image for Rohit Gupta.
41 reviews
July 16, 2017
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.
Profile Image for Javier.
10 reviews
December 6, 2017
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.
Profile Image for Daniel Teh.
1 review
January 24, 2018
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.
74 reviews2 followers
January 22, 2019
Kenya Hara is a genius and this book is in depth look into his design philosophy.
Profile Image for Pudi Ravi.
4 reviews7 followers
January 25, 2019
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.
Profile Image for Alan Tsuei.
300 reviews19 followers
July 25, 2022
Profile Image for Yasmin.
54 reviews6 followers
December 8, 2022
Kenya hara makes graphic design so eloquent. That’s how precious his POV is.
Profile Image for Ben Eastman.
15 reviews
January 4, 2023
Kenya Hara is an instant inspiration after this one

‘Design is the originality that repeatedly extracts astounding ideas from the crevices of the very commonness of everyday life.’
Profile Image for Shushi.
165 reviews2 followers
January 14, 2023
Profile Image for Pavlo Huk.
37 reviews21 followers
December 26, 2016
Надзвичайно красива, філософська і складна. Перечитаю через 5 років ще раз.
Profile Image for Dries.
48 reviews
June 26, 2018
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.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 59 reviews

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