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4.18  ·  Rating details ·  556 ratings  ·  43 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 4.18  · 
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 ·  556 ratings  ·  43 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.
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
"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.
Aaron Terrazas
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.
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
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
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.
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).
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 👌
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)
Stephanie Geerald
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.
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
Symo Atae
Sep 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Love the production quality and the content. Bravo Kenya
May 03, 2018 rated it liked it
White. Wait, what??
Mar 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
"As we achieve this rapport with white, out world glows more brightly, and its shadows deepen."

Works as advertised.
Feb 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very profound, yet concise and clear explanation of the concept behind what white is. Not only as a colour, but as an entity in itself. I would recommend it to everybody who wants to get more philosophical knowledge behind design and spirituality.
Jul 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 50book-2019
The box of twelve crayons we are given ti draw with when we are small children shapes our perception for better or for worse - it is from them that we garner concepts like "the colour of water," "flesh colour," and so on. But what if such parameters did not exist, and the words we had to describe colour were far fewer? Would we see colour the same way we do in today's world? / It is said there were few colour-related words in 8th century Japan, when the first poetry collection, the Manyoshu, was ...more
Haneen Krimly
Jan 09, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2017, reviewed
HaneenReads: Full Summary and Review

Kenya Hara’s White is a wonderful view of Japanese culture and design history through the perspectives of white and emptiness. He discusses white as an entire design element, rather than as a color.

That said, the ideas somehow felt completely unrelated to one another, as you’re reading, you get the feeling of jumping from concept to another without fully understanding anything.

There is also a lot of repetition of ideas throughout the book, for example the conc
Joanne Tai
Wow. It's deceptively profound. I have no idea how to even approach writing a review, I don't think I fully grasp what was being said. Maybe because I grew up in an Asian society and am a bit more familiar with Japanese culture, these concepts feel very familiar to me, but I never thought of them that way.

My impression is it's a theory attempting to deconstruct how white seems to speak to and be interpreted or used by people, the unspoken thinking or psychology behind what we choose to use white
Aug 02, 2015 rated it liked it
This was quite a meditative read, full of relatively abstract concepts and ideas. It gave me a little bit of exposure to one of the slices of Japanese aesthetic, Some of the examples that the author used to illustrate the concepts described in the book were fairly strong, namely concepts of empty spaces in traditional Japanese temples. It's a great book to slow down with at the end of really hectic day, and can be read in a few evenings (I wouldn't try reading this in one go, although the book i ...more
Aug 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A short book at 75 pages, but it sticks with you. What strikes me most is the imagery: it paints a picture of the value of white and emptiness. I really couldn't get over the image of these Shinto shrines, empty, just trying to be inviting for a passing God by leaving a space for them. This is one of those books I cannot wait to reread.
Jul 05, 2012 added it
We have bothe the Muji book and the Haptic book, I saw that White costs £35 (350 SEK) online - bit I found it in the Göteborg University library, so I've just borrowed it.

I was surprised it was a pocket sized book, even though hardback - unusual. Looking forward to reading it.
Donny Truong
Jun 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-design
Overwhelmed with the use of colors he encountered on the streets, graphic designer Kenya Hara turned to white as the most basic and necessary element in his work. This is a short yet fascinating read on the perception of White, emptiness and their essential role in graphic design.
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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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“White can be attained by blending all the colors of the spectrum together, or through the substraction of ink and all other pigments. In short, it is "all colors" and "no color" at the same time.” 5 likes
“Because nonbeing longs for being, on occasion it creates a stronger sense of being than being itself.” 4 likes
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