Monday, July 22, 2013

Less is More Design in Japan

Last Summer, while walking in a little off-road in Kyoto's city centre, I saw this window display.

Arrangement of clothes hanging in the window display

Arrangement of objects at the bottom of the window display

 I couldn't really believe it was a shop until checking that it did have a sign on the door and a few racks of clothes. In that street, which is next to a temple and a very quiet upscale part of the commercial district of quaint Kyoto, the store was just believable enough. It demonstrated several differences in approach to commercial design and aesthetic taste of the Caribbean. Our stores in the Caribbean are more direct and definitely colourful. They invite you to think about lifestyle and entertainment for example. Upscale UK and North American stores tend to have a very grand, opulent use of display space to trigger desire in customers. The display for UK store, Wallis for eg. shows the mannequins clothed in the wares of the franchise and other props to convey summery activities.
Window displays similar to those seen in the Caribbean
Display Design of Diesel's flagship store

 In comparison, the display for "Urim" pictured below projects the zen-like, less is more, simple aesthetic Kyoto is famous for. It is not clear whether this store actually sells to the public or has private clientele or only serves as a space for aesthetic play. It is interesting to look at how arrangement and colour of natural elements and the goods in the store can be used as a another approach to design rather than large colorful, synthetic graphics. These are two approaches to bringing attention to the story of the brand.

Sign at the entrance of small store on Teramachi-dori, Kyoto
This is not to say that Kyoto doesn't have its fare share of large department stores like Louis Vuitton and Lacoste showing very eye-catching work. Vuitton has long been known for its collaboration with popular local artists such as Yayoi Kusama and Takeshi Murakami but this style of pared down hand-made visuals is more typical of smaller stores off the main roads.

What do you think is communicated by each approach? Do you think this minimal aesthetic has a place in Caribbean design?


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