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Posted December 11, 2007
DESIGNING DESIGN is quite possibly the most beautiful book on design ever published. Not only is the content illuminating and intelligent, allowing the world to gain an appreciation for one of the truly unique voices in the design field - that voice being the Japanese master Kenya Hara - but also in keeping with the subject, the book itself is a paramount of elegance, simplicity and superb creative force. This is a white book, a volume of information and illustration that embraces the purity of white as the matrix upon which everything blossoms and emerges. In an introductory essay by John Maeda the author states `Kenya Hara is a complex man. He views the world through his many lenses of seeing, tasting, smelling, erasing, evaporating, and all the forms of construction and deconstruction.' And after those appropriate words this pristine book opens into the genius that is Kenya Hara. `Verbalizing design is another act of design....To understand something is not to be able to define it or describe it. Instead, taking something that we think we already know and making it unknown thrills us afresh with its reality and deepens our understanding of it.' What follows on the pages are images of page design, paper, bowls of white cabbage leaves, signs, images of Swatch watches that come down through projected air onto any surface presented, unique signage for public spaces, soft ice cream shapes, furniture, spaces, lamps, posters - any object that requires rendering is treated and discussed in concept and philosophy by a man of great wisdom as well as endless creativity. The illustrations accompanying the text are clean and as well placed on the page as any creation by Hara. This is a seemingly endless array of fascinating subjects. For the non-designer reader, the reader fortunate enough to open this book without the prejudice of traditional design information, this text contains powerful philosophical concepts. `The human brain likes anything that entails a great deal of information. Its extensive capacity waits eagerly to perceive the world by completely exhausting its great receptive powers. That potential power, though, remains today in a state of extreme constriction and is a source of the information stress we're all under.' Hara approaches this conundrum by dividing his book into sections that approach answers to these problems: RE-DESIGN, HAPTIC (Awakening the Senses), SENSEWARE, WHITE, MUJI (Nothing, yet Everything), VIEWING THE WORLD FROM THE TIP OF ASIA, EXFORMATION (Rivers, Resorts), and finally WHAT IS DESIGN? This book is meant to be absorbed slowly, portion by portion, and then to be read again once the reader understands Hara's contributions - quiet yet majestic though they be. The text reads very well (thanks to the superb translation efforts by Maggie Kinser Hohle and Yukiko Naito) and while the information is complex, the writing style is comfortably conversational. This is an important book on many levels and should be required reading for all students of design, practitioners of design, and for everyone whose eyes are influenced by astute observation. Brilliant! Grady HarpWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.