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4.15  ·  Rating details ·  700 ratings  ·  53 reviews
White is not a book about colors. It is rather Kenya Haras attempt to explore the essence of White, which he sees as being closely related to the origin of Japanese aesthetics – symbolising simplicity and subtlety. The central concepts discussed by Kenya Hara in this publication are emptiness and the absolute void. Kenya Hara also sees his work as a designer as a form of c ...more
Hardcover, 80 pages
Published November 25th 2009 by Lars Muller Publishers (first published May 30th 2008)
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Average rating 4.15  · 
Rating details
 ·  700 ratings  ·  53 reviews

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Mar 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: art, japan
Very much like Tanizaki's In Praise of Shadows this book is also a meditation that has to be read with respect and calmness. Then each reader is invited to meditate upon the abstraction of White, not just once, but over and over again. This truly is a slow book. Like a cup of Japanese tea it is more about the journey than the destination. In other words, it is not a book to be read but a book to be experienced. ...more
A Ter
Jan 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
How refreshing it is to read something so far beyond one's normal domain of familiarity and walk away light with a new perspective. ...more
Jul 13, 2021 rated it liked it
I wasn't excited by this book...It's a petty, because i expected to be a great book, but in contrary with Tanizaki's "in praise of shadows", i wasn't really touched... ...more
White is more than a colour. White is a system of aesthetics, it is the symbol of simplicity and subtlety that through Kenya Hara's brief but enlightening book embody the key concepts of Japanese design.

In a similar vein to Tanizaki's In Praise of Shadows (both books are short medidations on aesthetics and life), you slowly absorb Hara's prose much like good paper absorbs good ink, letting the idea, the concept of what White really is surround you. This can be read in a single sitting very easi
Jan 24, 2022 rated it it was amazing
I tried to read this book two times last summer but never got into it. three days ago, I went on a long walk to think through my design capstone project, ended up at BPL, and borrowed this again on a whim. tonight I watched Totoro on a big screen at Coolidge Corner Theater, and when I came back, suddenly I was ready to read this book. I think I am finally on my way to having a slowness in my work + life that I didn’t have over the summer, which is why this time went so much better. I loved this ...more
"White" is one of those books I plan to revisit and reread over time, much like Junichiro Tanizaki's "In Praise of Shadows". Hara's words should be taken with a grain of salt - he isn't exactly writing as an academic, nor is his book entirely a personal essay that is focused on self-reflection. It is a combination of the two, and it is certainly no surprise that he privileged Japanese culture in telling his narrative. Depending on the reader, this will either be a negative or a positive, and I p ...more
Jan 11, 2014 rated it did not like it
Maybe I shouldn't be surprised that a book about emptiness lacks content. ...more
Chris Beiser
May 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
More word-poem than treatise. The best endorsement I can give is that the whole time I was reading, my mind was full of bursts of the most beautiful, vivid colors.
Chris Stavitsky
Apr 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Unless you're a designer (I'm not), you may not have heard of the author. But if I tell you he's been the art director of Muji since 2001, does that make you perk up a little?

'White', Hara explains, doesn't just mean 'the color white', but rather 'a concept called white'. This concept is closely tied to emptiness; apparently the Japanese character for 'white' is one of two characters used in the word for 'empty'.

Hara has a few interpretations of 'white.' The primary one is something along the li
Dec 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: art, non-fiction
I expected this book to discuss about the different shades of white and its various uses, but it has taught me so much more. It discusses about how “emptiness” and “subtlety” are so ingrained in the Japanese culture that it influences every aspect of the Japanese way of living, from its religious rituals, art, architecture, to language and communication.

As a fellow learner of the Japanese language, I often struggle to keep up with conversations between natives who leave out the 主語 (subject). Th
Partof Shan
Apr 28, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: art
In my opinion this book would be nicer in original. The English translation is ok, just there are too many Japanese words and culture in it, it doesn’t feel like a book but an explanation of a book.
And the Japanese/Chinese culture I understand, because I am Chinese. But the way to tell the philosophy is very dry. (It is like I just want to tell whatever cross my mind or whatever I understand I don’t care if my writing could inspire my readers.)
The book is a beautiful designed book, I bought it i
Taylor Cerafice
Jun 22, 2022 rated it liked it
white proves to be more than a color. but then what is it? a system of aesthetics, a symbol of simplicity? as hara states the best questions have no real answers. just as a one would approach a japanese tea ceremony this book is to be approached with a deep calmness hard to replicate artificially. as it explores the culture around many aspects of japanese design such as typography or the flag. but also low key the book was just ok. he is great with words.
René Toet
Sep 29, 2018 rated it liked it
In 'White' the chapters on color, information, paper and typograhy are interesting and induce new perceptions/reflections on those topics. However, the chapter on emptiness is writtten from a (purely) Japanese perspective, in which a cultural divide is clearly present -- between Japanese and (northwestern) European thought and communication systems. The chasm is too wide (for me) to bridge. ...more
Mar 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: design
I find Kenya Hara's books on design part meditation fodder and part an active framing of the world around you from that point onward. White fit this pattern. I would read a page or five and somewhere in reading found I had set the book down and was deep in thought doing other things (I deeply appreciate books like this). ...more
Jul 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
The sound of piano playing in the background.. with enough sun rays and breeze from the window made good companions to such a book that demands calmness and tranquility so as to really delve deep into its zen.
I was glad to read Wabi-Sabi before I’ve read this one.
I shall revisit it and understand it once more in years to come
Jan 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
A book I have never thought I will come across or that I would ever read something similar. Haven’t read anything like that before. Japanese aesthetics and feeling the whiteness makes your head turn.

Such a small book but you better let yourself to read only a couple of pages every day to feel the book fully without any rush 👌
JP Hellmich
Apr 02, 2021 rated it really liked it
Well written and an interesting proposition to view the shade white as “kizen”. At some points it was unclear what the author is trying to say overall and how their argument is supported, like with the excursion on font and at other times it was clearly a little pretentious. I still enjoyed the read as it was well written and a very different perspective.
Maya Man
Had a really hard time getting into this it was very...floaty? I think Hara presents some pleasant concepts but to me it felt like a stretch to truly encapsulate all he was talking about under the entity of "white".

My favorite anology in the whole book was that white is like an empty bowl.
I think I would have enjoyed this more if I had a better background in Japanese history and culture. Certain things could have benefitted from more explanation or diagrams such as the part discussing different forms of Japanese calligraphy.
Annie Su
Dec 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019, art-design
a good survey of the color white, emptiness, japanese aesthetics and its relation to japanese culture, and more broadly, design and all the little things. with that, I'm now ready to read the expansion pack! (designing design by kenya hara) ...more
Mar 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Really appreciated the context and depth of 'White' and the experience of flipping through this book, if that even makes sense. I loved the book jacket, the way the paper feels in my hand, the typeface that was chosen. Everything about this book felt like an experience. ...more
Nov 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites

This refreshing meditation on the communication of receptiveness through deliberate emptiness brings me a thoughtful joy.

Brit Blankenship
Jan 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Poetically written color theory. Informational account of the history and cultural significance of white, emptiness, paper and purity with heavy Japanese influence.
Mar 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
A lovely meditative morsel on the color white and its symbolism as emptiness. Definitely a book to be savored in small sips and read multiple times
Symone M.
Sep 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Love the production quality and the content. Bravo Kenya
June Kanamea
Mar 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very exciting journey through the many meta-meanings of white and paper. Kenya's love for detailed descriptions and thought processes make this book a pleasant read. ...more
Dec 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written and highly recommend to any creatives and designers out there!
Haru Murasaki
Dec 18, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Walked into a strip club but I was the one who got stripped instead.
Dec 22, 2021 rated it it was ok
Another re-read, Hara in White delves into the subtlety of the colour white almost as a philosophical idea moving into the abstract notions of emptiness & void. A short but sublime read indeed.
Shawn Ng
Mar 12, 2022 rated it really liked it
A great book, perhaps overshadowed by Designing Design where Kenya Hara also discussed the concept of white and emptiness.
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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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