The Arts of Japan

Japanese Design since 1945

A Complete Sourcebook

Pollock, NaomiHarry N. Abrams · 2020

Cover of Japanese Design since 1945

Japanese Design since 1945: A Complete Sourcebook is a comprehensive overview of Japanese design during the last eight decades that will appeal to artists, craftspeople, designers, and historians.


Japanese Design since 1945
A Complete Sourcebook
Publication Date
Page Count
Pollock, Naomi
Harry N. Abrams
Kanai, Masaaki


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.

Author Naomi Pollock writes, “It doesn’t really matter what the medium is, whether plastic or metal, manufacturers treat the material with the same kind of reverence . . . the attention to detail and, above all, respect for the hand of the artisan, whether a traditional craftsperson or a factory worker. Even the mass-produced or computer-generated can be created with the pride and care of the handmade.”

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.

Table of Contents

  • Foreword
    Kanai, Masaaki
  • Introduction: The Craft of Japanese Design