What is the Japanese word for color? The simple answer is '色' or 'iro'. The much longer answer is contained in the book here, The Essence of Color in Japanese Design, by Italian author and associate professor of East Asian art history, Rossella Menegazzo. Color as a concept has played an integral role in classifications and demarcations in Japanese social culture for hundreds of years, with, for example, courtly, aristocratic colors used to denote rank and hierarchy.
Just as Japan has a special approach to art, design, fashion and the culinary, Japanese culture also approaches the color spectrum in its own way.
Japan's traditional colors have been in use since the seventh century. Over time, the meaning of colors has expanded to include all possible design objects. The book describes a selection of 200 colors - iro - where each traditional shade is illustrated by one or more objects - from 16th century kimonos to modern chairs, kitchen utensils to pottery.
A large part of the selected examples are taken from the works of well-known Japanese designers such as Naoto Fukasawa, Issey Miyake, Shiro Kuramata, nendo and Reiko Sud.
For a long time, the distinct and highly nuanced Japanese color system remained opaque to many outsiders. Overall, the book here offers a path to a deeper understanding of Japanese design.
Dimensions: H: 27 x W: 20.5 cm
Author: Rossella Menegazzo