Building the Future: John Ruskin and the New Role for Design in Japan

7th October 2023

On Saturday 7th October, from 10am-12noon (UK time) on zoom, join Japanese Companions and Ruskinians online for a special event showcasing the range and importance of Ruskinian thought and action in Japan today, particularly focused on the role of Design. The event is free, all contributions will be in English, and you can find a zoom link at the bottom of this page.

What is the significance of John Ruskin’s thought in the 21st century? The pandemic of the coronavirus, global warming triggered by our consumerism and economic activities, and the concept of the Anthropocene have brought the world together on the one hand, but on the other, they have also created fragmentation and division of various opinions. Against this backdrop, a new movement is emerging in which the younger generation is returning to Industrial Revolution era in England and encountering Ruskin's ideas once again. Japan is no exception. Young people have individually encountered the polygon of Ruskin's thoughts through academic research and social activities. And they are joining hands beyond their specific realm. The coming Zoom meeting is an attempt to trace the genealogy of Ruskin's influence in Japan and to focus on the activities of the 21st century as an extension of that influence. Among the many practices, we shall focus on the field of 'Community Design' in the context of creating and rebuilding communities to experience the contemporary nature of Ruskin's influence in this meeting. How can 'design' contribute to solving social problems, and what tools can it offer? This meeting will introduce the Japanese activities rooted in Ruskin's ideas from three perspectives: historical genealogy, the foundation of Ruskin's ideas, and 'Ruskin Today in Japan'; through actual examples of activities. We expect that this meeting will serve as a starting point for building a network to connect with various examples from overseas.


Building the Future: John Ruskin and the New Role for Design in Japan

Part 1. Introduction 

  1. Background to the Conference
  2. Ruskin’s Influence in Japan Today 
  3. Ruskin and “Community Design” 

Part 2. "Historical Significance of Community Design", by Professor Keisuke Takayasu (Osaka University)

  1. A Three-Stage Model for Social Design Development
  2. Parallel Histories: Divergence and Convergence
  3. Community Design is Still Design

Part 3. “Ruskin Today in Japan”: Introducing activities      

  1. Studio-L’s Activities: "Using the Power of Design to Solve Community Issues”
  2. The Ruskin & Morris Center of Osaka 
  3. Impact Hub Kyoto  

Part 4. Discussion