March 2006

Japanese Design:  A Survey Since 1950

Harry N. Abrams, Inc.

  • 100 Fifth Avenue Floor
  • New York , NY


What is the essence of Japanese design? Perhaps it is best exemplified in the clean lines of the abc Marilyn Chair xyz , designed by the architect Arata Isozaki in 1972. Isozaki combined the curves of Marilyn Monroe with the narrow, vertical lines found in the Mackintosh high-back chair. Or, it could be found in another utilitarian object such as a sake pourer. An example of which is found within these pages. abc   xyz 200 Sake Pourer, 1987 was made by the lacquer designer Akiraka Takagi in cedar bentwood, as part of a series commissioned by the Odate Craft Company that specializes in the wood. Its craftsmanship and design is stunning.

abc Japanese Design xyz is a gorgeous book. It has over 310 illustrations (most in color) and covers the fields of fashion design, textile design, furniture, graphics, and more.  It is the first comprehensive survey on modern Japanese design. There are 19 essays by well-known designers and critics, as well as other notables in each field represented. Designer statements are included, as well as company histories on Honda, the Nippon Design Center, Sony and GK Design Group among many others.

Classic, timeless, organic. These are words that can best describe the Japanese aesthetic. From earlier forms of the 1950’s such as an award-winning sewing machine by Jiro Kosugi, to later designs of the 1990’s as shown by fashion designers Yohji Yamamoto and Kenzo, the survey presented in abc Japanese Design xyz is an invaluable resource for the contemporary design enthusiast.

Reviewer: Cynthia Aaron, FIDM Library Staff Member