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This book not only reveals the mentality and national character of modern Japanese people but also attempts to explore and analyze the roots of their mannerisms. Everyone knows that the Japanese are generally more polite than other nationalities, but why is this so? Why do they embrace a relaxed attitude when being served by others? Surely, there must be specific reasons to account for these observations.

The design style is focused on simple and clean design solutions, and leans towards use of natural materials. In the Western world, it is often acknowledged that modernity will wipe out cultural traditions. Emptiness is similar to the Western idea of simplicity. There are, however, numerous differences with one being the fact that in Japan it is viewed as a positive quality.

Emptiness lets the mind and its creativity wander freely. For instance, Japanese conversations use emptiness the same way Hara uses empty space in his design work. He writes about the power of non-verbal communication such as a nod or eye contact that can convey so much. The Japanese way of communication is full of emptiness: subjects of sentences are often left unsaid and left for the imagination and speculation. This opposes the Western standards of communication, which is more direct. In most countries, especially in the United States, a silence in a conversation is considered awkward and the conversation needs constantly go on to avoid awkwardness.

Hara views people reaching a harmony in silence to be a highly sophisticated level of communication. This mutual work eliminates three or four steps in the dialogue before the first word is even spoken. As he states, a good design should not always impose ideas and opinions onto its viewer; instead it should leave room for interpretation and the viewer to experience the work, also from a personal, imaginative level. His design of the perfume bottles for the Japanese fashion brand Kenzo obeys his design aesthetics and taste; it is all about the clean, simple form.

Nothing unnecessary; it revolves around the functionality of the object in its purest form. It is a good example how emptiness could be a powerful design element. Designing for the senses Japanese design emphasizes how an object is felt or accepted. He challenges the simplifications that inform much present day thought concerning what could be felt, experienced, and emotionally negotiated.

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It focuses on the interaction between an object and human senses, stimulating and using them to change our perception of our surrounding. The exhibition consisted of contemporary designs researching the theme of perceiving senses through material choices, shape, color and texture. His motive was to design an object through which a person can sense and physically feel something. The logo of the exhibition was letters drawn with cultivated fungus.

An example from the exhibition that demonstrates this kind of awakening is the limp remote control. The material used for the production was unusual and was responsive to the touch of a human.


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New perspective on the so-called mundane objects is beneficial, because it enables us to see things in a new light. These objects may have become too common for us, so that they have become something trivial.

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It could awaken us from the numbness of being in our daily comfort zones and help us to regain perspectives of our surroundings and the objects around us. Hara asked twenty architects to redesign macaroni that is 50 times bigger than a normal macaroni. Akio Okumura: i flute. Kenya Hara: Architect's Macaroni Exhibition It is not as creative to design things representing their original form; they grab more attention when they are out of the ordinary and present new possibilities and dimensions.

Surely, these designs of the pasta are too crazy and complex to be sold commercially. He talks about how numerous artists, including Yasuhiro Ishimoto 47 , have tried to transform ordinary flowers into something unfamiliar. Photographers often compete to take pictures of flowers for reasons that have nothing to do with their beauty. Rather, they desire to reach the point where they can capture the living flowers in a way that no one ever has before. Design and art can make us rediscover these objects, making them exciting again, and ultimately making daily lives more exciting.

When we see an object we take for granted in an unfamiliar context or form, we suddenly start seeing it again. The ordinary objects around us may not have much aesthetic appeal at first glance, but they do play an important part on our lives and indicate things about our existence. Exploring the online magazine, the links to the traditional concepts are evident in many of the poster designs. For instance, the images and typography are often wrapped around empty space.

Wabi-sabi elements can be seen in the hand-made aspects and playful imperfections. The influence from Western graphic design is obviously evident, but the usage of empty space, simple shapes and hand-made imperfections and textures indicate the underlying inspiration from the traditional ideals. It is intriguing how these designs possess the opposing atmosphere to the vivid and hectic landscape of the city.

Instead of being imposing and shouting the message, these posters gently allure attention. The refreshing emptiness around the typography and the images together with the pastel color palette and bold unpretentious lines catch the attention immediately and is pleasing to the eye due to the peacefulness it emits through the harmonious and well-composed design elements.

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He uses those qualities to create optical illusions. His posters portray a creative way of using negative space for his benefit. When white space is used in an intriguing manner, it transforms into foreground. He states that most design education is concerned with combining and sometimes inventing bits of content and it almost always overlooks the critically important part of the design that goes unnoticed: the background spaces and shapes.

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White space is like the glue that holds all the other elements in place. Clutter hides and distracts us from what is truly meaningful. This design philosophy can be especially seen in the products of Muji It is distinguished by its minimalism and respect towards nature. It emphases on recycling and avoids waste in production and packaging.

It also emphases a no-logo policy 56 , implying that only a little amount of money is used for marketing and advertisement. The products have a very earthly color palette and all the product labels are the same and indicate only the contents of the product.

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Modern Japan: Origins Of The Mind: Japanese Mentality And Tradition In Contemporary Life

The photograph below of a man surrounded by void basically summarizes the ideology of Muji. The man on the photograph looks so small and humble amongst the vast greatness of void, which fits in with their ideology that man is not the center of the world, but equal to everything and that nature cannot be controlled; instead, we should strive for harmony with it. It shows how daily life serves as a great source for design. The goal was to redesign familiar objects in a unique way to create new experiences and ways to use them. Some of the objects were made to make our daily lives more beautiful and our daily routines more enjoyable.

Some objects did the opposite; in fact some became harder to use in order to convey a serious message. Making a little but substantial alteration to the design, changed its purpose: instead of being just a toilet paper roll, it now serves as a reminder of our wasteful and unsustainable habits and that we should cut down and slow consumption of paper. Matches were redesigned in a way that they look like real twigs from a tree to remind us of diminishing forests. These redesigned products are all about preservation and renewal by making simple, yet thoughtful alterations.


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The chocolate bar may seem at first just like an ordinary cute pattern, but because of the cut of the pattern, you will end up eating less chocolate, resulting in fewer consumed calories. This reminds the audience to cut down sugar consumption, because of the numerous underlying health hazards. The title of the book means changing the traditional into totally new ideas, such as changing its original design, including shapes, functions and concepts.

These works are about the products of daily life, like square tissue and redesigning pasta. Designers should face the real needs of our daily life that could help them to find the real meaning of contemporary product design. In order for us to make an aesthetic judgment of an ordinary object, we must first experience that object in a different form, giving it greater significance than the other, similar, objects around it. The design imitates the skin textures of real fruits. They bring out a new simplistic, refreshing take on packaging design that unquestionably stands out from the rest of the food market.

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The simplicity of the design puts the emphasis on the function and essence of the object. It also makes us face the reality that we tend to forget or simply ignore where for example our food comes from and therefore we could create more awareness with more design approaches like this.