Book List of the Week

Designers Who Read In Praise of Shadows

March 2, 2015

First published in 1939 in Japanese and translated into English in 1977, In Praise of Shadows considers Japanese aesthetics and its emphasis on subtlety and nuance. Ten designers, including architect David Adjaye, fashion design curator Akiko Fukai, and lighting deisgner Paul Marantz, cite the book as an inspiration for their work.

Shadowboxx, Lopez Island, WA (2009), designed by Tom Kundig who cites In Priase of Shadows a “touchstone.“ Top: front elevation. Bottom: exterior walls with front facade (from left to right) closed, partly open, and fully open


In Praise of Shadows Jun’ichiro Tanizaki

— Architect Tom Kundig (Olson Kundig Architects) comments on In Praise of Shadows:

“This has been an important book for my career. I’ve read it multiple times—it continues to be meaningful and I don't expect that will change. Shadows are more important than objects because they enter the realm of the mysterious. The white space is more important than the stroke of the pen. Shadows are the silent reason that objects are recognized; they give them shape. Shadows represent the soul of a place or object.”

— Lighting designer Paul Marantz (Fisher Marantz Sone) calls it: “The lighting designer’s basic text.“

— Critic Marco Romanelli describes it poetically: “The silence, the shadow, the lacquer, the beauty, the water, the garden, and the lesson that one flower is often enough.”

On 7 other designers’ Book Lists.

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