Design Lecture Series- Kenya Hara

Last Friday a few members of the Pensar team had the opportunity (and the quick trigger finger needed to snag tickets) to see design legend Kenya Hara speak at the Seattle Public Library as part of the Design Lecture Series produced by Civilization.  The event focused on the Designer’s approach and how his philosophies manifest themselves in the iconic products sold under the Japanese product brand MUJI, where he is art director.

MUJI products embody Hara’s design vision of emptiness, not to be confused with simplicity.  Emptiness leaves the user with the freedom to interpret and create their own experience, rather than an overly prescribed interaction or aesthetic.  He draws this approach from the Japanese method of design and creation, which was intended to create empty spaces so that personal imagination might fill them.  Today MUJI products utilize this emptiness to leave room for the user to experience the product in the way that best suits them.

Another of Hara’s design visions is ex-formation.  Today we are faced with a constant stream of information, and a culture that encourages us to know as much as possible.  Ex-formation is a celebration and harnessing of what we don’t know.  Similar to the emptiness motif at MUJI, ex-formation uses absence to foster creativity.  Absence of ‘knowing’ creates a space for creative interpretation and ingenuity.

We left the talk with an appreciation of, and comfort in, the empty spaces between what we know.  Amongst all of the unknowns, it was nice to <i>know</i> that getting in line an hour and a half early was well worth it.  The place was absolutely packed.  Thanks to Civilization and Kenya Hara for an inspiring evening.