Design The concept of simplicity within Japanese design
Designproduct design

The concept of simplicity within Japanese design

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Collater.al Contributors
adi design museum | Collater.al

Simplicity of form, meticulous attention to detail, the uniqueness of each piece while maintaining tradition, combined today with technological and engineering research that develops new materials and the recycling of waste materials, are distinctive features that make Japanese design a global icon.
The exhibition ORIGIN of SIMPLICITY. 20 Visions of Japanese Design at the ADI Museum in Milan offers a broad perspective between design and craftsmanship to explore the roots of the concept of simplicity, which can be interpreted as emptiness (ku), space or silence (ma), sometimes interpreted as poverty (wabi) and the beauty of time-bound consumption (sabi), and at other times as asymmetry, indefiniteness and imperfection, concepts that draw inspiration from various philosophical currents of this culture: from Zen Buddhism to Shinto animist thought, often contrasting with Western rationality.

adi design museum | Collater.al
Ph. Yuki Seli

An original research conceived by curator Rossella Menegazzo, professor of History of Japanese Art and Culture at the University of Milan, with design and exhibition design support from Japanese designer and curator Kenya Hara, who conceived the exhibition layout as an immersive journey through a forest. Each “tree” houses works that embody a specific quality, combining works by different designers and craftsmen to explore the theme of simplicity through keywords that facilitate understanding.

adi design museum | Collater.al
Ph. Yuki Seli

The exhibition presents more than one hundred and fifty works, many of which have never been exhibited in Italy, created by the most distinguished names in modern and contemporary design, who have marked the history of Japanese design from the 1960s to the less internationally known exponents of more recent generations. All the selected objects highlight the craftsmanship that, in the context of design, has traditionally combined techniques, materials and forms handed down from generation to generation, through workshops, historic workshops and masters considered “living national treasures,” intangible heritage.

adi design museum | Collater.al
Ph. Yuki Seli

A wisdom handed down through the centuries that demonstrates an appreciation for natural materials-wood, paper, metal, ceramics and fabric-and a sensitivity to the specific characteristics of each, blurring the distinction between design product and artwork. «Simplicity comes from the harmony of forms with nature, as an attempt to preserve the inherent sacredness in each element that Shinto animist philosophy represents, thus laying the foundation for Japanese culture,» comments curator Rossella Menegazzo.

The collaboration with UNIQLO and the new store in Gae Aulenti

As part of this celebration, a collaboration with UNIQLO, a clothing brand that embraces the value of simplicity in its motto “Simple made better,” was born. The Japanese values expressed in the exhibition are also reflected in the brand’s design, with the common goal of highlighting Japan’s cultural roots and recounting its enduring, cross-cultural appeal. UNIQLO LifeWear – the brand’s pivotal concept – is distinguished by a simple design that conceals thoughtful, modern details designed to be accessible to all. After the success of Cordusio, the brand will open a new store in Milan’s Gae Aulenti during the months the exhibition is open, establishing not only a cultural but also a spatial link with the museum.

MAGEWAPPA BENTŌBAKO [lunch box], Shunji Kurimori, Kurikyu,1977
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