Critical design in Japan – Q&A with Ory Bartal

Posted by Rebecca Mortimer - Friday, 10 Jul 2020


How would you like someone who has read your book to sum it up in one sentence?

Great story about critical designers in Japan who manage to combine two contradictory concepts – luxury and the avant-garde.

What book in your field has inspired you the most?
Hello World: Where Design Meets Life by Alice Rawsthorn and Designing design by Kenya Hara.

Did your research take you to any unexpected places?

Yes of course, it made it very clear to me that the term design is often trivialized, misunderstood, and misused as it is usually confused with styling and with decorative, expensive, and superfluous objects, while the designers I research were using design as an interface which introduce cultural, political and social changes in a positive and empowering way for the people in order to change society.

Which writing process do you use (computer, longhand, dictate, other)?


Why did you choose to publish with MUP?

‘Studies in Design and Material Culture’ series by MUP is known to publish the most interesting and thought-provoking books that expand the limits of the term design.

What are you working on now?

I am now working on a book and a documentary film about the politics of design (that includes body politics, identity politics, racism etc).

If you could go back and give yourself once piece of advice when starting out on this project, what would it be?

Just go to any direction that this project will take you to in order to explore more critical designers and design projects without thinking about the full picture, the structure of the book or about publishing, and most of all enjoy the project!

If you could have been the author of any book, what would it be and why?

A fiction book that is based on theories of politics of design such as Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco or The Davinci Code by Dan Brown which were a fiction book that presented semiotic theory.

What other genres do you enjoy reading?

Thriller and suspense fiction books.

Which authors (academic and not) would you invite to a dinner party?

Michel Foucault, Roland Barthes, Yuval Noh Harari.









Critical design in Japan is available now and you can read a sample chapter here.


Ory Bartal is Head of the Department of Visual and Material Culture at Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Jerusalem.



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