Japanese design is often rooted in its context, reflecting current societal issues, such as environmental awareness. The result is intricate designs that give equal consideration to consumers and the environment.

Another major trend is “kawaii”-ness (kawaii meaning cute), which can be seen in a wide variety of items (ranging from cars to notepads). Designers strive for efficiency and functionality as much as conceptual flexibility. This trend was influenced by the Mingei (Folk Arts) Movement, which emphasised the pursuit of practical beauty.

Embassy of Japan in the UK, Creative Japan, 2007

Japanese consumers are passionate about trends and style and have a permanent interest in new goods. Due to fierce competition, Japanese consumers enjoy high purchasing power and are prioritised by firms over shareholders and employees. Services standards are therefore essential. Higher- and middle-income consumers are more accepting of foreign design than lower-income consumers. Luxury goods and everyday design can therefore be considered as two different markets.

Danish Embassy in Japan, Furniture, Fashion and Design
Copenhagen Business School, When Culture Means Business, 2008

In Japan, media and magazines have great influence over consumers’ lifestyles and behaviour, creating new trends. What is more, Japanese consumers tend to gather information about a product through the media before making a purchase.

Copenhagen Business School, When Culture Means Business, 2008

Good design goes beyond beauty and is a driving force behind society’s development. Good designs have to be of great quality, have purpose and be seen as such by consumers.

Japan Institute of Design Promotion, outline of activities

Table of Contents

  • Market
  • Gadgets
  • Market Opportunities
  • Successful Japanese Designers
  • Japanese Furniture
  • Expert Report
  • Further Reading
  • Relevant Organisations and Trade Fairs