100 books like The Philosophy of Design

By Sori Yanagi,

Here are 100 books that The Philosophy of Design fans have personally recommended if you like The Philosophy of Design. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Designing Modern Japan

Naomi Pollock Author Of Japanese Design Since 1945: A Complete Sourcebook

From my list on the best of Japanese product design.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since I came to architecture through classical archeology, writing about design was kind of like coming home. I made the switch to journalism after moving to Tokyo. At that time, Japan’s economy was going strong, boom cranes were everywhere, and the worldwide appetite for information about new construction was robust. An outgrowth of my success documenting architecture, my interest in design was sparked partly by the chairs and teapots created by Japanese architects but also by the superb array of daily-use goods available in Japan. The dearth of information about these items and their designers led me to cover design at various scales. 

Naomi's book list on the best of Japanese product design

Naomi Pollock Why did Naomi love this book?

This is an extremely well-researched book which provides an in-depth look at how the design fields developed and have evolved in Japan.

Though airing on the academic, I find it very readable, and I consult it when I wish to know more about a particular period of Japanese design history. Having scoured the landscape myself, I have great admiration for the author’s ability to ferret out information – there is no central design museum or archive in Japan – and present it cogently.

By Sarah Teasley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Designing Modern Japan as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From Muji to Sony televisions, our lives are surrounded by Japanese design. We think we know it, whether it reflects calming minimalism, avant-garde catwalk fashion or the Kawaii aesthetic populating Tokyo streets. But these stereotypes do not portray the creativity, generosity and sheer hard work that has gone into creating design industries in Japan.
In Designing Modern Japan, Sarah Teasley traces the stories of the people who shaped and shape design in modern Japan. Key to the account is how design was seen as a strategy to help the nation thrive during turbulent times, and for making life better along…


Book cover of Japanese Design: A Survey Since 1950

Naomi Pollock Author Of Japanese Design Since 1945: A Complete Sourcebook

From my list on the best of Japanese product design.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since I came to architecture through classical archeology, writing about design was kind of like coming home. I made the switch to journalism after moving to Tokyo. At that time, Japan’s economy was going strong, boom cranes were everywhere, and the worldwide appetite for information about new construction was robust. An outgrowth of my success documenting architecture, my interest in design was sparked partly by the chairs and teapots created by Japanese architects but also by the superb array of daily-use goods available in Japan. The dearth of information about these items and their designers led me to cover design at various scales. 

Naomi's book list on the best of Japanese product design

Naomi Pollock Why did Naomi love this book?

I first encountered this book many years before I began my own.

It accompanied a marvelous exhibit launched by the Philadelphia Museum of Art which, sadly, I did not see in person. Arranged by decade, the body of the book features individual products from the 1950s to the 1990s.

This reveals the overlap between different design disciplines and the cross-fertilization of ideas. I love the large photos which pull you in and make you want to read the texts. The supporting essays were contributed by many of the most important design luminaries at work in Japan.

By the time I was working on my book, many of them were already gone. 

By Kathryn B. Hiesinger (editor), Felice Fischer (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Japanese Design as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Shows the evolution of Japanese commercial designs over the last five decades


Book cover of Naoto Fukasawa: Embodiment

Naomi Pollock Author Of Japanese Design Since 1945: A Complete Sourcebook

From my list on the best of Japanese product design.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since I came to architecture through classical archeology, writing about design was kind of like coming home. I made the switch to journalism after moving to Tokyo. At that time, Japan’s economy was going strong, boom cranes were everywhere, and the worldwide appetite for information about new construction was robust. An outgrowth of my success documenting architecture, my interest in design was sparked partly by the chairs and teapots created by Japanese architects but also by the superb array of daily-use goods available in Japan. The dearth of information about these items and their designers led me to cover design at various scales. 

Naomi's book list on the best of Japanese product design

Naomi Pollock Why did Naomi love this book?

Several years ago, when I was living in Tokyo, I needed a blender.

So, I went to MUJI and bought the one they had on offer. It was smaller than a US model, but the components fit together so easily, and the blades did their job so efficiently. I had to marvel. Unsurprisingly, the appliance I purchased was the product of Naoto Fukasawa who has a gift for making ordinary, everyday goods better. They practically intuit the user’s movement. Like my blender, these are things one buys to fulfill a basic need. But then cannot imagine living without them.

Filled with first-person explanations, this book is a window into the mind of one of Japan’s most accomplished designers. 

By Naoto Fukasawa,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Naoto Fukasawa as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A brand new monograph on one of Japan's best-known product designers, featuring more than 100 of his latest works

Naoto Fukasawa's simple, restrained, and user-friendly products have an extraordinarily universal appeal. Featuring more than 100 of his latest designs, including furniture, phones, watches, fashion, luggage, and accessories, Naoto Fukasawa: Embodiment perfectly captures Fukasawa's perspective on the dynamic interplay between people, places, and things.

It places the designer's products into the context of the contemporary design world and offers a first-hand account of Fukasawa's design philosophy.


Book cover of Designing Japan: A Future Built on Aesthetics

Naomi Pollock Author Of Japanese Design Since 1945: A Complete Sourcebook

From my list on the best of Japanese product design.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since I came to architecture through classical archeology, writing about design was kind of like coming home. I made the switch to journalism after moving to Tokyo. At that time, Japan’s economy was going strong, boom cranes were everywhere, and the worldwide appetite for information about new construction was robust. An outgrowth of my success documenting architecture, my interest in design was sparked partly by the chairs and teapots created by Japanese architects but also by the superb array of daily-use goods available in Japan. The dearth of information about these items and their designers led me to cover design at various scales. 

Naomi's book list on the best of Japanese product design

Naomi Pollock Why did Naomi love this book?

A graphic designer by training, Kenya Hara is one of Japan’s most theoretical design thinkers. He steps back and ponders possibility. Especially where the future of Japan is concerned.

Seated in his elegant office in downtown Tokyo, Hara explained to me years ago that Japan once churned out exports but now, as other countries assume that role, Japan must offer something else. In this book he indicates that something else not a physical object. It is the experience of the country’s rich culture, aesthetics, and underlying values.

Living in Tokyo for many years enabled many chances to savor the smell of fresh tatami mats and the toothsomeness of new harvest rice.

Hara’s thoughts resonate with me, but I hope Japan never stops making elegant, user-friendly housewares.

By Kenya Hara,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Designing Japan as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Designing Japan' presents renowned designer Kenya Hara's vision of how his industry can support Japan in crafting a future founded on a unique philosophy of beauty as well as crowd-sourced wisdom from around the world. A master collaborator, meticulous organiser, and globally conscious innovator, Hara draws on more than three decades of participations in design work and exhibition curating, as well as deep professional interaction with creators from many fields.

In 'Designing Japan' Hara reveals methods that make publicly accessible aesthetic inquiries of how this island nation will proceed as its population ages, other nations take over manufacturing, and technology…


Book cover of Think Like a UX Researcher: How to Observe Users, Influence Design, and Shape Business Strategy

Cory Lebson Author Of The UX Careers Handbook

From my list on starting in user experience (UX) design and research.

Why am I passionate about this?

There is a scene in the 1960 movie adaptation of The Time Traveler by HG Wells where the protagonist goes rapidly into the future as he watches a whole city spin into existence around him. That’s how I feel about my career. I started in 1994 and have watched UX grow into an incredible field! I’ve run my own business since 2008 focused exclusively on qualitative research consulting while also doing all sorts of exciting thought leadership activities – from writing to speaking to creating a number of courses on LinkedIn Learning – and I love to build my UX network too! I live in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Cory's book list on starting in user experience (UX) design and research

Cory Lebson Why did Cory love this book?

As a UX researcher myself, I love how this book explains UX research methods simply and clearly.

I appreciate how it presents everything within a rich background of context and history. For me, this is the book I go to when I need to figure out how to best explain some research approach to a client.

I also appreciate how it also includes sections on myths and incorrect ideas which helps me when I sometimes need to explain to a client why their approach may need to be adjusted to be more methodologically correct.

Finally, I think this is a great book for UX designers to understand when and how to involve research in their efforts.

By David Travis, Philip Hodgson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Think Like a UX Researcher as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Think Like a UX Researcher will challenge your preconceptions about user experience (UX) research and encourage you to think beyond the obvious. You'll discover how to plan and conduct UX research, analyze data, persuade teams to take action on the results and build a career in UX. The book will help you take a more strategic view of product design so you can focus on optimizing the user's experience. UX Researchers, Designers, Project Managers, Scrum Masters, Business Analysts and Marketing Managers will find tools, inspiration and ideas to rejuvenate their thinking, inspire their team and improve their craft.

Key Features…


Book cover of Interviewing Users: How to Uncover Compelling Insights

Gregg Bernstein Author Of Research Practice: Perspectives from UX researchers in a changing field

From my list on understanding user research.

Why am I passionate about this?

After a career that took me from designer to design professor, I’ve spent the past decade leading user research practices for growing product organizations. I’m excited about user research because it positions us closer to the people we design for, and challenges us to capture and explain complex scenarios in service to them. Though there are many books that teach user research, my list of recommendations is meant to demonstrate why we research, how we make sense of what we learn, and where research might take us.

Gregg's book list on understanding user research

Gregg Bernstein Why did Gregg love this book?

Listening to users is essential to product design and development, full stop. Interviews allow us to understand who uses our products and the contexts our products fit into, and Steve Portigal demonstrates how to do it like a pro in Interviewing Users. Steve breaks down every angle of the interview process, from planning to conducting to documentation. (I particularly love Steve’s approach to the interview field guide in chapter 3!)

By Steve Portigal,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Interviewing Users as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Interviewing is a foundational user research tool that people assume they already possess. Everyone can ask questions, right? Unfortunately, that's not the case. Interviewing Users provides invaluable interviewing techniques and tools that enable you to conduct informative interviews with anyone. You'll move from simply gathering data to uncovering powerful insights about people.


Book cover of Where Women Create: Inspiring Work Spaces of Extraordinary Women

Erika Kotite Author Of She Sheds: A Room of Your Own

From my list on women who want to create their own personal space.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an English major turned magazine editor turned book author, with a longtime love of outbuildings. Sheds, carriage houses, studios, barns… I love them all. When I had the chance to do a book about she sheds I was thrilled. Now with two books about she sheds on the market, I’m busy running She Shed Living with my business partner. We design sheds for women throughout Southern California, sell our own line of exterior chalk-based paint, and offer resources and advice to women who want a room of their own.

Erika's book list on women who want to create their own personal space

Erika Kotite Why did Erika love this book?

This book should be considered the bible of women’s artistic expression. Built on the idea of physical spaces and how they nurture the creative endeavor a woman does there, Where Women Create introduces you to dozens of extraordinary artists, textile designers, mixed media artists, book producers, entrepreneurs, and product designers. You get lost in their stories and inspired by their ingenious outlook on organization, clutter, and ways to keep the artistic spark alive.

By Jo Packham,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Where Women Create as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Book cover of Lost Japan: Last Glimpse of Beautiful Japan

Chiara Terzuolo Author Of Hidden Japan: A guidebook to Tokyo & beyond

From my list on books before visiting Japan.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been studying Japanese since 2008, studied in the country twice, and then finally made my home here in 2011. Over the years, I have been to 43 of Japan’s 47 prefectures, writing articles about my experiences and constantly searching for new, hidden places where I could still find a touch of the Japan of yore. With so many people visiting the country, I want to do my part to give folks options that are off the beaten path and away from the crowds. 

Chiara's book list on books before visiting Japan

Chiara Terzuolo Why did Chiara love this book?

So many people come to Japan hoping to see the twisty streets lined with traditional wooden houses and little manicured gardens and feel a bit let down when they realize how much of it has been lost. I was (and in a way still am) one of those people.

Earthquakes, war, and a love for the new have caused much of the Japanese landscape to lose its traditional views. While at some points a little out of date, Kerr has a wonderful way of capturing the beauty of the old and how the new has taken hold. This is not an uplifting book, but it does give a wonderful insight into some of the more closed worlds within Japanese society, as well. 

By Alex Kerr,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Lost Japan as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An enchanting and fascinating insight into Japanese landscape, culture, history and future.

Originally written in Japanese, this passionate, vividly personal book draws on the author's experiences in Japan over thirty years. Alex Kerr brings to life the ritualized world of Kabuki, retraces his initiation into Tokyo's boardrooms during the heady Bubble Years, and tells the story of the hidden valley that became his home.

But the book is not just a love letter. Haunted throughout by nostalgia for the Japan of old, Kerr's book is part paean to that great country and culture, part epitaph in the face of contemporary…


Book cover of The Honjin Murders

Tim Major Author Of The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - The Defaced Men

From my list on satisfying mysteries.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since I was a child I’ve been drawn to mystery plots, because I love the sense of there being an agreement between author and reader, which leads to an ability to play with expectations. My most recent books have been Sherlock Holmes novels in the style of the classic Arthur Conan Doyle tales, though I’ve also written mysteries set on an isolated island and even on Mars! With each new story, I’ve found the act of plotting deeply satisfying. Of course, the next best thing to writing my own stories is reading another author’s novel that has a satisfying mystery, with a solution that in retrospect seems totally fair, but that I didn’t see coming.

Tim's book list on satisfying mysteries

Tim Major Why did Tim love this book?

This 1946 Japanese novel is a classic locked-room mystery concerned with fair play within the rules of the genre. The rural setting and flurry of elaborate clues are what sets it apart, and the detective Kosuke Kindaichi is truly memorable, as is the devious solution. The work of author Seishi Yokomizo has only recently begun to be translated for English-speaking readers, but I hope more will appear soon.

By Seishi Yokomizo,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Honjin Murders as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the winter of 1937, the village of Okamura is abuzz with excitement over the forthcoming wedding of a son of the grand Ichiyanagi family. But amid the gossip over the approaching festivities, there is also a worrying rumour - it seems a sinister masked man has been asking questions about the Ichiyanagis around the village.

Then, on the night of the wedding, the Ichiyanagi family are woken by a terrible scream, followed by the sound of eerie music - death has come to Okamura, leaving no trace but a bloody samurai sword, thrust into the pristine snow outside the…


Book cover of The Oxford Book of Japanese Short Stories

Marian Frances Wolbers Author Of Rider

From my list on a sweet journey into Japan.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been enjoying Japanese stories from the moment I first found them, a direct result of living, studying, and working in Japan for five years, from Imari City (in Kyushu Island) to Tokyo (on Honshu). The pacing of Japanese novels—starting out slowly and deliberately, then speeding up like a tsunami out of nowhere—totally appeals to me, and feels infinitely more connected to exploring the subtleties, complexity, and beauty of relationships. This is especially true when compared to Western novels, which seem overly obsessed with splashing grand, dramatic action and injury on every other page. I just love revisiting Japan through reading.

Marian's book list on a sweet journey into Japan

Marian Frances Wolbers Why did Marian love this book?

Looking for a well-curated, wide variety of Japanese short stories written by nearly all the famous modernist novelists revered in Japan? This collection contains everything from Kawabata’s "The Izu Dancer" to Satomi Ton’s marvelously deep story called "Blowfish", wherein the hero—a famously talented Kabuki actor succumbs to the kind of brain-fogging, body-busting death that only blowfish poison can deliver. The author manages to get inside the head of his character, uncovering what transitioning into death feels like, with humor sprinkled here and there, and an emotional recollection/revelation about his own actor-father dying in a theater fire. 

By Theodore W. Goossen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Oxford Book of Japanese Short Stories as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This collection of short stories, including many new translations, is the first to span the whole of Japan's modern era from the end of the nineteenth century to the present day. Beginning with the first writings to assimilate and rework Western literary traditions, through the flourishing of the short story genre in the cosmopolitan atmosphere of the Taisho era, to the new breed of writers produced under the constraints of literary censorship, and the current writings reflecting the pitfalls and paradoxes of modern life, this anthology offers a stimulating survey of the development of the Japanese short story. Various indigenous…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Japan, industrial design, and Tokyo?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Japan, industrial design, and Tokyo.

Japan Explore 493 books about Japan
Industrial Design Explore 12 books about industrial design
Tokyo Explore 89 books about Tokyo