Design in East Asia

Discover the riches of East Asian design in Haruhiko Fujita and Christine Guth's newly published encyclopedia and across the Bloomsbury Design Library, and explore our archive of previously featured content here.

Front cover of the Encyclopedia of East Asian Design (Cover: Bloomsbury Publishing)

Introducing the Encyclopedia of East Asian Design

This is the first comprehensive publication to focus on East Asian design and its histories. Although definitions of design in Asia are multiple, fluid, and historically contingent, the disparate cultures within this vast landmass have long produced arts and crafts, interior, graphic, and design objects for domestic, regional and global consumption. The encyclopedia provides in-depth, critically informed coverage of these practices, products, and the interpretive issues pertaining to them. The work is organised by country to reflect specific regional and national histories and geographies. Within these geographies, traditions, histories, theories, and practices as well as key issues in modern and contemporary design are considered. The topics covered in this volume range from ceramics, textiles and interiors to architectural, environmental and sustainable design. You can read the introduction to this volume here.

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Country Focus: Japan

From record-breaking bullet trains to beautiful Buddhist temples and kimono, Japan is a country with a rich and diverse design tradition. The Encyclopedia of East Asian Design features 39 articles addressing the history of Japanese crafts and design, from pre-modern times to the 21st century, covering aesthetics, colour and pattern, calligraphy, ceramics, metalwork, architecture, interactive design, and much more. Read Ellis Tinios and Christine Guth’s article on printing in pre-modern Japan, and Hiroshi Narumi’s overview of contemporary Japanese popular culture.

Sphere Cutlery by Izabel Lam. © Philadelphia Museum of Art

Object Focus: Izabel Lam's sphere cutlery

Hong Kong-born American designer Izabel Lam created her silver-plated sphere cutlery range in 1990. Lam is known for designing, producing, and selling contemporary dinnerware, cutlery, and tabletop accessories. Her range aims to satisfy 'the challenge of the compromise of creativity and commerce' and her creations 'encompass the nuances of material and movement, the perfection of imperfection, function with attention to detail, and simplicity molded by the human touch'.

© Sang-Soo Ahn

Designer Focus: Sang-soo Ahn

Korean graphic designer Sang-soo Ahn is best known for his development of four major Hangul (Korean alphabet) fonts, including the Ahnsangsoo Font in 1985. Read more about Ahn’s life and work in Yunah Lee’s overview in the Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Design, and understand his work in the context of South Korean communication design in Chae Lee’s article in the Encyclopedia of East Asian Design.