Cars, Videogames and other high-tech equipment devices are probably the first things that come in people’s minds when they think about Japanese Design. At second sight Japan offers a diversified Design scene that is influenced as much by its own history as it is by the Bauhaus for example.
The contemporary Japanese Design is affected by a cultural understanding that stands for reserved beauty and simple strictness that comes from the hundred years old tradition of Japanese handicraft.
The fusion of modernity and tradition, industrial production and handicraft as well as form and function make Japanese Design famous and coveted all over the world. The clear and minimalist forms are also influenced by western traditions and developments that reach back to the Bauhaus movement.
The Japanese culture is characterized by its ability to connect its own tradition with modern influences. This is also the characterization of modern Japanese design which developed in the 1950s. The ideological background came from Masaru Katsumie who was a follower of the Bauhaus movement.
Soon, Design schools and institutions (METI, JIDPO, JIDA) were founded and especially the Industrial Design developed because of the rise of the economy. Besides the European influence the Americans became important for Japanese Design.
Besides the Design Industry, in Architecture, Graphics and Art, the Japanese creators could mix their own tradition with modern influences unscrupulously. In the western dominated fashion industry Japanese Designers gained ground in the 1970s. Here the old tradition of Shintoism was visible: A simple style, the feeling for the materials and the naturalness of the drapery brought new impulses to the fashion world.
Today the Japanese method of mixing traditional Styles with western influences is accepted as one of the most innovative ways for design. Not few Experts see the adaptation of Japanese Design as a way to break the circle of self referring Retro styles.