If you happen to be a fan of Kurt Anderson’s wonderful radio show Studio 360, perhaps you tuned in this weekend for the trip to Japan, a fascinating account of a place that seems at once otherworldly and yet so much like our own. If not, dare we suggest you tune in for the whole hour. Or, at the very least, consider the wonderful segment on Japanese design. In it, Anderson interviews architectural master Shigeru Ban and the up-and-coming couple behind Atelier Bow-Wow, as well as a fashion designer and a poet. At issue is that undeniable “Japanese-ness” that undergirds their work and that of their country, how it is shaped by their tiny, overcrowded island and, more recently and perhaps importantly, the economic collapse of the 1990s.
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