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6 Japanese lighting design books you need to get your eyeballs on

By stephen
March 24, 2022

Tadao Ando - Light Art Work
SJ OUR COMMS DIRECTOR NERDS OUT ON SOME OF HIS TOP JAPANESE LIGHTING DESIGN PUBLICATION PICKS

We all know what a hub of incredible design Japan is. Attention to detail with illumination is an absolute joy to discover when stumbling on Izakayas or boutiques when meandering through the streets.

You know what else is also awesome about Japan? Ok, you could say 100 things, but let’s go with the bookstores – some of my personal favourites are Aoyama Book Center Shibuya, Komiyama Vintage Bookstore, and Daikanyama T-Site. No place combines lighting and books quite like Japan. Here’s a rundown of a few favourite Japanese lighting design books we’ve accumulated over the years:

featuring sus' tiny thumb

Light Art Work

Libro

Without being too over-the-top this is quite possibly the coolest book ever printed. Featuring absolutely beautiful works of lighting art, products, and spatial design from the 70s & 80s. None of it is in English but none of that really matters. You’ll find stunning imagery and inspiration pieces from absolute pioneers in lighting design, art, and architecture. With little known works from esteemed names including Tadao Ando and the genius of Makiko Suehiro. In a word – word.

Designer’s Showcase Volume 01

Yukio Hashimoto

From the Designer Showcase series, this edition features works from Hashimoto Yukio Design Studio… and you guessed it – Yukio Hashimoto. Showcasing a mix of stunning work including the boutique Beams House, Mitsuo Aida Museum, and Hilton Hotel Niseko Village. The case studies and insights are written in both Japanese and English, featuring a wonderful interview with the man himself.

LPA 1990-2015

Tide of Architectural Lighting Design

Lighting Planners Associates and Kaoru Mende need little introduction with a swathe of iconic projects throughout Asia. This is a fascinating and absolutely huge chronological and comprehensive look at LPA that details lighting, its application, their stunning projects, theory, and philosophy. A crucial acquisition for those interested in lighting design (and I am not going to lie, it did push my hand luggage weight limit over, but it was worth the argument with the airline).

Designer’s showcase Volume 03

Akihito Fumita

Another in the Designer’s Showcase Series and features some super cool retail and showroom spaces that wouldn’t look out of place in a space-age film set. Featuring many iconic projects for Nissan, some jaw-dropping residential spaces and a few pieces of product design. (You also might recognise this little number from one of our andro lighting range shoots).

Lighting Design for Urban Environments and Architecture

Designing with Shadow

The Hotel Claska in Meguro, Tokyo has a room with a lighting concept based on the Japanese essay ‘In Praise of Shadows’ by Jun’ichirō Tanizaki. So, it’s fair to say the Japanese know and consider a thing or two about the intersection of design and shadow. This is another book by the prolific Japanese design house Lighting Planners Associates Inc (LPA) and Kaoru Mende.

“It’s a smorgasbord (or should we say, kaiseki – a Japanese multi-course meal) of outstanding design accomplishments across residential, hotel, office, commercial, public space, landscape lighting as well as full-scale urban lighting projects and the thought that goes into them. Not to be missed.“

#3 Yasaku Kamekura & #13 Koichi Sato

Ginza Graphic Gallery Books

Technically the Ginza Graphic Gallery hardcover Books series are not lighting design books. Ok, they’re not at all lighting books. They’re books published by the super-cool contemporary gallery showcasing Japanese design works & exhibitions on the history of print art. Each edition features colour reproductions from a different artist. The reason I have included them here is that many in the series feature posters based on lighting design. Awesome graphic design & posters about lighting, what’s not to love?

If you have any tips for interesting books or spots for where to pick them up we’d love to hear them. You can hit up SJ on Linkedin here. And if you’re ever down ambience way then come in lounge around and have a squiz at our book collection.

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