Kenya Hara

Kenya Hara

Graphic Designer

photo: Takashi Sekiguchi


Kenya Hara (b.1958) is a graphic designer, president of the Nippon Design Center Inc., and professor at Musashino Art University.
His highly-influential exhibition “RE-DESIGN: Daily Products of the 21st Century” toured worldwide, and he has built a reputation for producing exhibitions and educational programs that bring focus to new values by embracing keywords, such as “HAPTIC,” “SENSEWARE,” and “Ex-formation.” Much of his work, including the programs for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Nagano Winter Olympic Games and promotion of Expo 2005, is deeply rooted in Japanese culture.In 2002, Hara became MUJI’s art director. His wide-ranging work is noted for its attention to transparency, and includes visual identity for Matsuya Ginza, Mori Building, Tsutaya Shoten, GINZA SIX, MIKIMOTO, and YAMATO TRANSPORT. He also focuses on inspiring global interest in Japan, and served as Chief Creative Director of the Japan House project for Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In July 2019, he launched the HIGH RESOLUTION TOUR website as a new approach to tourism, exploring specific locations in Japan from an individual perspective.
Many of Hara’s books have been published in English, including Designing Design (Lars Müller Publishers, 2007), White (Lars Müller Publishers, 2009), Designing Japan (Japan Publishing Industry Foundation for Culture, 2018), and 100 Whites (Lars Müller Publishers, 2019).

Thoughts on Design

Humans live and create environments. Design is the wisdom stored within. Pens, toothbrushes, lighting fixtures, towels, architecture and even identities are designed. By coming into contact with that wisdom and experiencing the subsequent awakening, we begin to see the world differently. We gain understanding not by defining or describing something, but by sensing the wonderment of the reality of ordinary things around us that we thought we already comprehended, as if we were seeing them for the very first time. In other words, it’s about waking up and becoming conscious of the nature of the environment that we have unconsciously created. It is through this process that people can come into contact with the same surface. Design exists at these interfaces between people and the environment, the individual and society, and life and the universe. It seems that the late Alan Fletcher was calling this “the senses in equilibrium”.

Representative work

  • 2003 | MUJI 2003 corporate advertisement “Horizon”

  • 2005 | “RE-DESIGN: The 21st Century of Everyday Life” Exhibition

  • 2009 | “TOKYO FIBER ’09 SENSEWARE” Exhibition

  • 1998 | Nagano Olympics Opening and Closing Ceremony Program

  • 2000 | EXPO 2005 AICHI Poster

  • 2011 | VI system and signage for Tsutaya

  • 2000 | Matsuya Ginza Renewal Project

  • 1998 | Umeda Hospital Sign Design

  • 2000 | “hakkin” Package Design

  • 2014|ISPAHAN Package Design

  • 2016 | JAPAN HOUSE Logo mark

  • 2017 | “NOH” Poster

  • 2017 | “HIROSHIMA APPEALS 2017” Poster

  • 2014 | “TAKEO PAPAER SHOW 2014 SUBTLE” exhibition

Interview (Japanese)

From the exhibition “Secret Source of Inspiration: Designers’ Hidden Sketches and Mockups