What would your neighborhood look like if you saw it with fresh eyes? How do you represent a river? And how accurately does the word ‘pair’ describe a modern relationship?
The best books change the way you see the world. Kenya Hara’s latest title, Ex-formation, invites you to go a step further, and un-know it.
For Hara, the inspiring designer and thinker known for his work as MUJI’s Art Director, the explosion of knowledge available to us today can be dangerous for creative expression. Instead of using knowledge as a springboard for our imaginations, we become trapped in a kind of information-exchange, swapping facts but not delving much deeper.
Hara’s book is named after his method for addressing this phenomenon, particularly the stagnation he identifies in contemporary communication design. “I named this method Ex-formation to act as a counterpart to Information,” writes Hara. “That is, I’d like to think of the form and function of information not in terms of making known, but in terms of making unknown.”
Attempting to “unknow” things, and try to look at them in a new light, is a way of re-igniting our sense of curiosity, using our imaginations, and sparking creativity. As Hara notes: “What moves people’s hearts, in every case, is the unknown. Things that people already know don’t excite them.”
Each year, 14 or 15 students come together at the prestigious Muashino Art University, joining with Hara in an attempt “to make things unknown.” Ex-formation presents their collective efforts, resulting in a book of incredibly beautiful, humorous, and thought-provoking design and writing.