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Japanese Design Since 1945

A Complete Sourcebook

Naomi Pollock, Masaaki Kanai


A major survey of the Japanese designers, artisans, manufacturers and technologies that have shaped the world of modern design

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Design in Japan is deeply rooted in the country’s historic craft culture, profound understanding of materials and commitment to functionality. These qualities yield chairs, cups and other daily use items which are easy on the eye, comfortable in the hand and always do their job well. Even as mass manufacturing became widespread in the post-war period and cross-cultural exchanges began to take place with the West, Japan held fast to these core values and practices. This dedication has given rise to timeless objects of great beauty and utility as well as innovations in materials, form and technology.

Far beyond design icons such as the Kikkoman Soy Sauce Bottle, Sori Yanagi’s Butterfly Stool, and the Sony Walkman®, the products and objects created in Japan over the past seven decades serve to delight and draw admiration. In recent years, a new generation of designers, including Naoto Fukasawa, nendo and Tokujin Yoshioka, have taken Japanese creativity into exciting new territory: some are eliminating objects entirely, others are reimagining what an object could be. Though Japan has developed some of the world’s most sophisticated robotic manufacturing complexes, many of its most appealing products are made by small factories and workshops whose artisans use their hands as much as machines.

This impressive volume is the most complete overview of Japanese design to date and its exquisite presentation is itself a beautiful example of Japanese design. Including profiles of over 70 creators, the book is based on the author’s interviews with designers, their colleagues and family members, as well as leading curators and critics. The profiles are accompanied by short takes on iconic products and essays on related topics by Japanese and Western design experts. Featuring hundreds of objects, this volume will become the definitive work on the subject for many years to come.


'A pretty impressive collection of objects, which serve as a reminder that Japan has led the way for much of what we consider good design'
Creative Review

'Featuring hundreds of objects and dozens of profiles of designers, from household names (Issey Miyake; Global knives) to cult product makers (Oji Masanori; Ryoichi Kobayashi), the furnishings, textiles, graphics, packaging and household goods featured are simultaneously simple and sophisticated, everyday and extraordinary'

'Ideal for armchair travellers'
Daily Telegraph

'[An] authoritative sourcebook'
House & Garden

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Paperback in slipcase

Size: 28.0 x 23.0 cm

Extent: 448 pp

Illustrations: 705

Publication date: 15 October 2020

ISBN: 9780500022214

Contents List

Foreword by Maasaki Kanai • Introduction: The Craft of Japanese Design • The Design Titans • The Designers and Everyday Icons: Tables & Chairs • Essay by Naomi Pollock • Food & Drink • Essay by Makoto Shimazaki • On&Off • Essay by Shinji Hamada • Posters & Packaging • Warp & Weft • Essay by Matilda McQuaid • Lifestyle & Leisure • A–Z of Designers

About the Author

Naomi Pollock is an American architect who writes about Japanese design and architecture. Her work has appeared in numerous publications on both sides of the Pacific, including A+U, Dwell, Kinfolk, Wallpaper* and Architectural Record, for whom she is the Special International Correspondent. In addition, she is the author of several books, including Modern Japanese House, Made in Japan: 100 New Products, Jutaku: Japanese Houses and Sou Fujimoto. In 2018, she was selected to join the College of Fellows of The American Institute of Architects. Masaaki Kanai is President of Ryohin Keikaku, the retailer and manufacturer of the leading Japanese brand Muji.

List of Contributors

Matilda McQuaid, Hitoshi Mori, Makoto Shimazaki, Shinji Hamada