Description: “The purpose of design is to search for an essential quality in things.” Meet the internationally acclaimed master designer, whose More »
Description: “The purpose of design is to search for an essential quality in things.” Meet the internationally acclaimed master designer, whose name has become synonymous with the changing face of contemporary Japanese design – Kenya Hara. In this extensive video, he talks about the concept of “no design” and creating from the Japanese mentality.
While studying at university, Hara’s interest in moulding developed into an interest in the philosophy of design, which became the foundation of his design: “The human wisdom behind the creation of a thing.” He feels that “global culture” doesn’t exist, but that the local culture in which we grew up shape us, and that “providing a local culture to contribute to the global context is what it means to enrich our world.” Visiting other countries has made Hara more aware of Japan and how to translate Japanese culture into a universal language: “I have to take the Japanese locality and digest it for the global language in order to present it in a global context.” When designing for Muji, and conveying this design to a global market, he realized that the Western idea of simplicity was similar to the Japanese idea of emptiness. This concept of emptiness became key, and was furthermore reflected in our perception of – and sensitivity towards – white: “I discovered the concept of white that lies next to emptiness.” This realization consequently resulted in a book series that Hara is working on, which through 100 essays explores the concept of white.
“Its simplicity should be gorgeous without a feeling of inferiority.” Hara argues that design’s intention shouldn’t be obvious, but rather “a suitable thing prepared for people without them noticing it.” On the subject of “no design”, which is at the core of Muji, this isn’t about a lack of design, but about “keeping design’s intention out as much as possible.” Muji, which Hara describes as a concept or ideology rather than a product design, was created as a sort of antithesis at the height of Japan’s economic wealth in 1980, and was consequently scrapped of useless things, rendering the products simple but by no means mediocre: “This is something very Japanese, placing value on austerity. So I wanted to create something out of the Japanese mentality and MUJI was born.” In continuation of this, communication, according to Hara, isn’t about assuring others that you know things, but rather about sparking curiosity: “The momentum of communication shouldn’t move people into the known but rather make people feel as if they saw it for the first time.” If people get the feeling they already know things, “the deepening of interests stops there.”
“It’s time for us to think calmly about how humans will change.” On the subject of technology, Hara comments, “the time of humans making tools has ended. And now we are entering a new era where tools create humans.” H « Less