Designing Everyday Life in Modern Japan

Japan House is excited to offer a new online course starting Spring 2022 taught by Chris Palmieri: ARTJ 398: Designing Everyday Life in Modern Japan. This course is an introduction to the modern history of Japanese design from 1920 - present, its role in continuously reshaping everyday life in Japan as well as the individual and collective identity of its people; emphasis on critical analysis of the practices, philosophies and formal qualities of design through essays and interviews with key designers, historical artifacts and scholarly articles.

What you’ll do

Students will gain an understanding of the historical context of key figures in Japanese 20th century design, engage with and analyze key design artifacts, read and analyze works of aesthetic theory by key figures, and hear from contemporaries working in fields related to the course material through guest lectures.

What You’ll Learn

Students will learn to be competent in critical analysis of design artifacts and narratives used to frame them by their originators or others, know how to place and connect design artifacts and innovations within their historical and cultural context, and examine the aesthetic choices and defaults in their own environment and creative practices. They will be able to build an evidence-based story about the origins and significance of a designed object within its social, political, technological and cultural environment, critically evaluate journalistic and theoretical writing related to Japanese design, and identify and explain different theoretical approaches to design.


This course is restricted to students with Sophomore, Junior, or Senior class standing.

Class Schedule

This 3 credit hour class meets once a week online from 4:00PM - 6:40PM on Thursdays in the spring semester for the whole semester. It is a synchronous online course.

Meet the Instructor

Chris Palmieri is the managing director of AQ Works, an independent design studio in Tokyo, Japan which has worked with companies like AirBnB, Asics, eBay, Google, Gengo, and Medium for research and projects ranging from interests such as UX/UI design, localization, and prototyping. He graduated from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign where he studied graphic design and Japanese language and aesthetics. Chris moved to Tokyo in 2001 to begin his design practice. He co-founded AQ in 2004. As managing director, Chris leads the design process, working with teams to clarify ideas, and transform them into beautiful, hard-working products. AQ works with clients worldwide to design and build imaginative tools for business, culture and community. To learn more:

AQ redesigned the Tokyo Illustrators Society's website and content management system.