Special issue of The Design Journal: Design in contemporary Japan (Aug 2012)

Website: http://www.bergpublishers.com/BergJournals/TheDesignJournal/tabid/3650/Default.aspx
Deadline to submit title and abstract: 29 August 2012
Contact:  sarah.teasley@rca.ac.uk

This special issue of The Design Journal will explore the current state of key design disciplines and industries in Japan today, and investigate potential next steps and directions that they might take. It invites proposals that identify and critically analyse the present and future of particular industries or issues, both established and emerging. Submissions that map the impact of recent change on design industries and identify strategies developed by actors for adapting, even thriving, in new circumstances, are particularly welcome.

Few nations have seen the public image of their design and manufacturing sector change so quickly and drastically as Japan since 2000. Postwar Japan’s manufacturing-intensive economy and promotion of private consumption fostered the development of design industries – product, fashion, graphic, vehicle, textile, furniture, etc. – as integral to product development and promotion. After 1990, these now-established design industries faced new conditions such as decreasing domestic spending, offshore manufacturing, domestic disasters and the influx of digital technology.

Today, as ‘minimalist good design’ and ‘kawaii’ continue to dominate perceptions of the nation’s products and aesthetic worldwide, general and industry media alike regularly report on Japan’s decline vis-a-vis the rise of Korea and China as emerging leaders in electronics and other key industries. The manufacturing sector’s troubles – related also to the 3.11 disaster, subsequent power disruptions, the high yen, lowered domestic consumption and a somber mood nationally – have only added to the challenges facing designers, both independent firms and in-house design divisions.

Against this difficult terrain for some established design areas, however, Japanese fashion retains its global cachet amongst consumers of high-end and street fashion alike. And newer design industries such as game, service and interaction design continue to take advantage of digitisation, the global popularity of anime and manga and design’s increased draw for business and policy to shape digital and physical experience in new ways.

Specific design disciplines/industries discussed might include:

*       ‘Traditional’ modern design disciplines such as furniture, product, industrial, fashion, textiles, graphic/communications, vehicle, interior, set/stage/film, packaging, advertising, craft and engineering design
*       New and emerging areas such as service, game, information, animation, interaction and digital design more broadly.
*       Design within traditional/vernacular crafts industries
*       Design education in the above areas

In addition to providing insight into changing conditions in Japan, the special issue may provide insight into readers’ local conditions and inform current and future design-led innovation. Now, as the future of manufacturing, global competition, consumer spending and fundamental change in the structure of financial institutions and government make headlines worldwide, new technologies such as additive manufacturing are again changing design practice, and innovation and creativity are promoted as fuel for economic development and regional revitalisation on a much larger scale, an inquiry into how designers in Japan are reacting and contributing to these larger changes can have great relevance for designers, students, policy makers, manufacturers and educators worldwide.

To these ends, contributions that explore issues such as the following are particularly welcome.

*       the impact of societal, technological, economic, geopolitical and natural shifts such as outsourcing, globalisation, the rise of China and Korea as design and manufacturing centres, ageing, shoshika, digitalisation, new materials including nano- and bio-materials, concerns for sustainable practice and the 3.11 disaster on design practice, manufacturing, consumption and attitudes towards design and commodities.
*       government policies that directly address design industries or directly/indirectly impact them, e.g. ‘Cool Japan’ and regional manufacturing support and development schemes
*       the adoption of ‘design thinking’ as a concept and practice within business in Japan
*       ‘dezain’ as a practice, method or stance, e.g. ‘seikatsu dezain’
*       amateur/public use of design techniques and tactics for political activism, local regeneration activities, etc.
*       the emergence of amateur/public design culture, e.g. Design Festa
*       design in Japan in the economic and geopolitical context of the larger North-East Asia region – China, South Korea, Taiwan, Russia, etc.
*       the contextualisation of current design practices and issues within a historical framework, for example in comparison to earlier periods

Contributions that combine empirical research with critical analysis and open-ended questioning, that contextualise events and conditions in Japan within larger regional and global trends and shifts and that demonstrate awareness of Japan as one site for design, manufacturing and consumption within global networks are especially invited.

Ultimately, the special issue seeks to situate design practice and issues in Japan within a wider global context, so that they might serve as comparisons and catalysts for reflection and discussions on how design can best adapt to changing conditions globally, today.

Successful papers will be published as a special issue of The Design Journal, with publication scheduled for December 2013. Established in 1998, The Design Journal http://www.bergpublishers.com/BergJournals/TheDesignJournal/tabid/3650/Default.aspx  is an international refereed journal covering all aspects of design. The journal welcomes articles on design in both cultural and commercial contexts and provides a forum for design scholars, professionals, educators and managers worldwide. It publishes thought-provoking work that will have a direct impact on design knowledge and that challenges assumptions and methods, while being open-minded about the evolving role of design.

HOW TO SUBMIT A PROPOSAL
To propose an article, please e-mail a 400 word abstract of the proposed paper, along with a one-page CV, to the guest editor, Sarah Teasley, at sarah.teasley@rca.ac.uk.

The closing date for proposals is 29 August 2012. Successful authors will be notified by 12 September 2012, and asked to submit the full article for peer review. An invitation to submit a full article does not guarantee publication.

Schedule for authors:
Deadline for submission of title and abstract: 29 August 2012
Draft article submission: December 2012
Revised article submission: February 2013
Final copy submission: March 2013

Any inquiries regarding the special issue should also be directed to Sarah Teasley at sarah.teasley@rca.ac.uk.

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About Filippo Salustri
I'm a design methodologist and Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada. Adjectives that describe me include: secular humanist, meritocrat, and long-winded. Some people call me a positivist too, as if that were a bad thing. Go figure. My real home page is http://deseng.ryerson.ca/~fil.

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