Over 300 students, professors and guests gathered at the UCLA Broad Art Center auditorium on April 12th to experience an in-depth talk by Kenya Hara on emptiness and design; his art direction for Japanese lifestyle company Muji; and his vision for the Japan House project and Takeo Paper Show: SUBTLE.
The event was presented by Japan House Los Angeles in collaboration with the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture, Department of Design Media Arts, Department of Architecture & Urban Design, and Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies.
UCLA Arts Dean Brett Steele deftly introduced Hara, with references to his past work deeply rooted in Japanese culture and aesthetic. His previous exhibitions have included Haptic—Awakening the Senses (2004); Tokyo Fiber—Senseware (2007, 2009); Japan Car (2008, 2009); and Designing Design: Kenya Hara in China 2011. A prolific writer, his books Designing Design and White have been lauded as a required reading for anyone studying design.
Hara’s presentation and visual images were a fresh take on his previous UCLA lecture in 2008, focusing on the concept of emptiness – simplicity in the Western sense -- that he developed through his work with Muji. His work as curator and art director for the Takeo Paper Show: SUBTLE, on display at Japan House Los Angeles, brought him to write, “[Paper’s] contribution to human history lies in how it has stimulated and inspired the creation of culture.” Further, “The [exhibition] theme SUBTLE indicates the aspect of our senses, which, led by paper, becomes subtly and elaborately sharpened.”
After the talk ended, students quickly formed a long line to speak with Hara directly. Their questions and his answers became a lively discourse on the ways and means of design. To one student he summed it up quickly: “Working as a designer is a form of communication.”
Takeo Paper Show: SUBTLE is on display at the Japan House Los Angeles Gallery on the second floor of the Hollywood & Highland Center from April 13 – May 23.
Photos by Tyler Yin