This course will examine Japanese design as an expression of both local and global manifestations of cultural identity. Each semester, focus will be on aspects of how Japanese design emerged in the Modern period out of Japanese arts and crafts, as well as the influence of other cultures on Japanese design. Exploration of cultural identity will begin with an overview of modern design, and modernity itself, as a utopian social and cultural project. Attention will then shift to the birth of design in Japan through the Meiji (1868-1912), Taisho (1912-1926), Showa (1926-1989) and Heisei (1989-2019) eras; how each era's political, social, and cultural climate affected the designed output of Japanese society; and what these historical factors mean for the contemporary Reiwa (2019-present) era. Field trips to museums dedicated to design and crafts will be included to further illustrate the philosophical and theoretical aspects of the class, helping to connect the theory and practice of design in Tokyo today. Additionally, coursework will include readings designed to help students understand modernity and postmodernity; how Japanese literature approaches materials and design; the study of visual and material culture; how gender norms are in large part designed; and the import and export of aesthetics from Japan to the world via fashion, the Olympics, objects, and attitudes. The class will help students develop a robust understanding of design within the Japanese cultural context and an enhanced sense of design history and theory from both a Japan-centric and globally-oriented perspective.
Course Attributes: GA
Repeatability: This course may not be repeated for additional credits.