White by Kenya Hara


Category: ,

ISBN 9783037781838

Published 2008

75 Pages

Finished: Jan 1, 2017


“White” is not a book about colors. It is rather Kenya Hara’s attempt to explore the essence of “White”, which he sees as being closely related to the origin of Japanese aesthetics – symbolizing simplicity and subtlety. The central concepts discussed by Kenya Hara in this publication are emptiness and the absolute void. Kenya Hara also sees his work as a designer as a form of communication. Good communication has the distinction of being able to listen to each other, rather than to press one‘s opinion onto the opponent. Kenya Hara compares this form of communication with an “empty container”.

White Book Review

General Summary

Right from the start, the author reveals that the point of this book is to explore Japanese aesthetics, mostly its simplicity and subtlety, through the concept of white and emptiness. Hara also touches on the subject of communication, where he states that successful communication depends on how well we listen, rather than how we push our opinions on a particular person.

Main Ideas and Concepts
Writing Style

The book is written in a philosophical, often spiritual, design language. It is divided into a few short chapters with lots of paragraphs. Almost each paragraph seems to have an entirely new idea than the paragraph before it. The author uses a lot of repetition of certain key ideas and concepts, for emphasis.

Thoughts and Comments

Kenya Hara’s White is a wonderful view of Japanese culture and design history through the perspectives of white and emptiness. He discusses white as an entire design element, rather than as a color.

That said, the ideas somehow felt completely unrelated to one another, as you’re reading, you get the feeling of jumping from concept to another without fully understanding anything.

There is also a lot of repetition of ideas throughout the book, for example the concept that “White is all colors, but is also no color” is repeated through various paragraphs throughout the book.

In my opinion, the author’s attempt at philosophy wasn’t all that successful, it feels as though he had a few great ideas and concepts about the entity “white”, but he himself didn’t quite fully understand them. Or perhaps, he intended the book to have a bunch of broad concepts without any exploration whatsoever.

The overall tone of the book as whole can be seen as prejudiced, because of the condescending manner in which the ideas were presented. After I finished the book, it felt as though the author was saying the Japanese invented White, Emptiness and even Design!

Taking it all in, the book is an OK read. Although it has some great design concepts and ideas to think about, for me, it fell a little short.

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