• The Local and the Global: Hokusai's Great Wave in Contemporary Product Design

Guth, Christine, 2012, Journal Article, The Local and the Global: Hokusai's Great Wave in Contemporary Product Design Design Issues, 28 (2). pp. 16-29. ISSN 0747-9360

Abstract or Description:

This article examines the impact and significance of Hokusai’s so-called The Great Wave in contemporary product promotion and design. Arguably Japan’s first global brand, this influential 19th-century woodcut has been widely adopted to style and advertise a wide range of merchandise, most of it neither manufactured in Japan nor primarily dependent on the commodification of the Japanese aesthetic or locale. Interpretation of the varied contexts in which the distinctive cresting wave appears challenges essentialising narratives that see the modern adoption of such traditional non-Western motifs as expressions of Japonisme or Orientalism. Taking an interdisciplinary approach that brings to bear design and global studies theory, Guth instead focuses on how this highly adaptive motif, with its connotations of being both nowhere and everywhere, serves to mediate between the local and the global.
Despite the ubiquity of The Great Wave in the commercial realm, to date there have been no studies of its cross-cultural significance. To carry out this project, Guth conducted extensive research into the merchandise on offer in museum shops and online websites, and among global brands such as Patagonia that have made use of the motif. Guth also interviewed designers and users of the products to assess the rationale for the choice of this form of branding and the degree to which awareness of its origins influenced purchases.
Guth was invited to present this new research on the global commercial impact of Hokusai’s The Great Wave at an international conference on ‘Hokusai in Context’ in Berlin in 2011. The conference paper and resulting published essay were developed to form a chapter in a book-length investigation into the global iconicity of Hokusai’s wave from its creation to the present day. The book, Hokusai’s Great Wave: Biography of a global icon, will be published by University of Hawai’i Press in 2014.

Official URL: http://www.mitpressjournals.org
Subjects: Creative Arts and Design > W200 Design studies
Identification Number or DOI: http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1162/DESI_a_00140
Date Deposited: 29 Apr 2012 13:51
Last Modified: 09 Nov 2018 15:44
URI: https://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/992
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