Handmade in Japan. The Pursuit of Perfection in Traditional Crafts is a book published in 2020 by Gestalten and Irvin Wong. In response to the mass production of our century, people began to get more interested in small-batch products and crafts. The cultural tradition of Japan is an emblem of the care given to objects and products, whether you talk about Ikebana, the Japanese art of arranging flowers, or the tea ceremony, which is in itself an aesthetic ritual. Handmade in Japan shows the diversity of Japan’s crafts through a dense photographic documentation of traditional workshops in different regions of the country, through the eye of the photographer Irvin Wong.
The publication comes in two language versions. In addition to the English one, there’s a German edition titled Das Streben nach Vollkommenheit. Japanisches Handwerk zwischen Tradition und Moderne. They were designed by Ilona Samcewicz-Parham, who chose to play on some symbolic features of Japan, especially for colors: the pale pink cover reminds us immediately of the pink cherry tree blossoms for which Japan is so famous. The book’s layout assigns a lot of space to margins, taking attention not to charge the pages with too much information, in order to keep this specific balance between plain and forms you find in most traditional Japanese creations. The book is set in three typefaces: Cardinal from Production Type, ParaType’s version of Futura by Paul Renner, and Yu Mincho designed by Toriumi Osamu from Jiyu-kobo for Japanese texts. The design of Cardinal is at the same time a synthesis of Garamont and Granjon inspired typefaces and a new step towards digital aesthetics: this mix puts the typeface out of time, and thus follows the pure aesthetics of Japanese arts and crafts, barely touched by the passing of time. Cardinal is also lighter than most typefaces of this kind and makes a good combination with the Japanese characters of Yu Mincho.