Review Of "Japan 2000: Architecture And Design For The Japanese Public" Edited By J. Zukowsky

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This companion to a traveling exhibition on Japanese architecture and design of this decade focuses on the crucial role of the government--the public in the book's subtitle--in administration, funding, design selection, and promotion. The first part, on architecture, presents 17 architectural projects, mostly shown in photographs of models, with brief descriptive comments and only a few adequate plans, and it is disappointing. The works in general are uninspiring, and so is Naomi Pollock's essay, "Designing for the Japanese Public," informative though it is. The second part, on design, is far more engaging. It introduces 19 works of industrial design and ten examples of updated craft-based design--visually stunning, conceptually ingenious, and truly illustrative of life in contemporary Japan. In his essay, John Heskett explains, succinctly and penetratingly, how Japanese design today is hardly Japanese in looks and yet remains distinctively Japanese "in terms of processes and values." No less intriguing is Tadanori Nagasawa's essay, "The Cultural Engineering of Traditional Local Industry." Despite the innovative theme, the book is recommendable, for its price, only for major design collections on the undergraduate level.


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