Japan’s national culture is one of the richest and most startling in the world. Whatever industry you work in, wherever your hobbies and interests lay, there is something about the way that the Japanese do things that is sure to fascinate you and make you think afresh about your approach to work and life. If you’re planning a holiday then the land of the rising sun is a highly recommended destination – and if you should be offered the chance to take a business trip to Tokyo, grab it with both hands. Whatever else might happen, you will come home inspired; and a suitcase full of Japanese Souvenirs equals a suitcase full of new ideas.
Japanese design is noted for its boldness and simplicity, while always containing a spark of originality that sets it apart. Take the Sony Walkman, for instance. It introduced a simple idea to the world – music on the go. The designs were sleek and minimalistic and super-modern, so that they became not just useful objects, but status symbols illustrating how hip the user was. It was such a hit that it changed the very way that people act in public, and its influence can be traced not just to iPods and wireless headphones, but to the very concept of the mobile phone.
Look back a little further, and another object you will associate strongly with Japanese culture is the fan. The folding hand fan was invented by the Japanese at least as early as the 6th century AD, and is a supremely elegant design solution allowing a cumbersome fan to be neatly folded and pocketed when not in use. Much as the cigarette would come to be not just a drug but an element of personal style (the would-be ‘cool’ effect), foldable hand fans are noted for their use in coquetry and for being not just practical, but beautiful objects to behold.
And how about successful branding? Well, what could be more simple than ‘Hello Kitty’? The anthropomorphic white bobtail-cat-inspired character was originally designed to spruce up a clothing line, and first featured on a small vinyl coin purse. The character so caught the public imagination that she has gone on to feature on check books, guitars, and aeroplanes, as well as in her own animated series and a forthcoming feature film. How do they do it?
For a glimpse into the world of Japanese design, check out this new visual guide from Homeaway – there’s plenty to inspire your next product, and your next vacation!