The Way of the Detail in Japanese Design

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George Varghese


When considering the growing interest in the ideas of internationalisation and globalisation, the phrase ‘Japanese Design’ has always captured the inspirational pulse of designers. This paradoxical world of Japan provides the impetus for vast and varied design outcomes. These outcomes range from the traditional design of tearooms, to the youth fashion phenomena in Harajuku. Design in Japan demonstrates a controlled approach to the subtle nuances that express the design spectrum between excess and austerity. This paper explores the idea of the intricacy of Japanese design as not only being a clear expression of their masterful handling of material and form, but also a demonstration of the amalgamation of cultural paradigms displayed in these various design outcomes. This is no more clearly expressed than in the examination of details used within Japanese design, in particular, the details in traditional Japanese architecture.

The methodology involved with this research is mainly focussed on literature reviews of text and journal articles, as well as, review of appropriate exhibitions. But the original journey began years ago with my own education and exposure to the ideas of Japanese design and architecture. Numerous travel tours and design tours to Japan helped to reinforce the connection and unfold their paradoxical world.

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How to Cite
Varghese, George. 2003. “The Way of the Detail in Japanese Design”. Idea Journal 4 (1):161-72.
text-based research essay