Tag Archives: book


In post-war Japan, cities victim to firebombings were left in a state of ruin and despair. But in the wake of devastation, some Japanese architects optimistically saw opportunity; they saw a chance to prove the country’s resilience, rebuild their cultural identity, and transform the nation into an improved version of its previous self. During this period of time, the influential architectural movement known as Metabolism was born, revolving around the concepts of organic growth and megastructures. The idea was that buildings didn’t have to be static; instead, they could be ever-changing, adapting and transforming according to different needs. One of the most iconic buildings of the movement—the Nakagin Capsule Tower—can still be found today in Tokyo’s Ginza District. Built by the famous architect Kisho Kurokawa, the unique structure consists of 140 removable capsules plugged into two concrete cores and is the main subject of Noritaka Minami’s photo book 1972, named after the year that the building was officially completed.


Noritaka Minami is a Japanese-born and America-raised photographer who only began documenting the building in 2010. At the time, there was a sense of urgency to complete the project. “There was a very real possibility that it would be demolished and replaced with a more ‘conventional’ apartment complex,” says Minami. “As of today, the building does not face imminent destruction, but still faces a very uncertain future in regards to its preservation.” The building was experimental, a prototype that sought to explore the possibilities of alternative methods of urban living in the future. Through his photos, Minami wants to offer viewers an opportunity to see the past’s interpretation of the future.


“Each capsule is a container that has accumulated all of the moves and decisions that were performed by individuals over the course of four decades,” says Minami. “Although I do not directly depict the resident who occupies that space, I want each photograph to suggest that the capsule holds the history and presence of people who occupy or have occupied that space.” With respect to the inhabitants, his photographs are completely documentary in nature; objects, furnishings, and light were photographed as it were without any alterations on his part.


Shot on both medium and large-format cameras with an ultra-wide lens, Minami’s collection of images captures the nuances of each ten square meter living space, revealing the the ways each resident has adapted to the living conditions. “The limited space of a capsule also influences the amount of belongings each resident can possess, more so than a conventional apartment,” Minami mused. The restricted space of each capsule often leads to the majority of an inhabitant’s worldly belongings to sit out in plain view; To this effect, Minami saw each pod as an extension of each resident’s personality. “From a very early point in its history, the criticism against the Capsule Tower was that the individual units are too small and not flexible enough for everyday use,” he says. “Yet, the fact that these small rooms are still being occupied to this day demonstrate the residents’ ability to find new and unexpected applications within the limited area of ten square meters that go beyond the original vision of the building as urban homes for businessmen.”


As the Nagakin Capsule Tower is a private building, gaining access can be rather difficult for non-residents. “The project was only possible through the generosity of the couple that first allowed me to visit their capsule during the summer of 2010,” Minami explained. Many of the photographs in the book were made possible through the couple’s acquaintances in the building. By luck, Minami eventually met others in the building who granted him permission to document their pods, offering a candid glimpse into their living space.


During the time that Minami worked the project, the people that chose to live in the building came from all walks of life, ranging from a young local art student attending university to a construction worker in his sixties. What attracted each resident was different: some were interested in its historical significance, some were curious about living in an unconventionally built structure, and others lived there for practical reasons like convenience and affordability. Although many residents are in favor of preserving the building, aware of its history and cultural significance, there are some residents who aren’t as keen, seeing the potential of maximizing the prime real estate that the building sits on by replacing it with a newer apartment.


Minami’s book was finally published last year, made possible with a successful Kickstarter campaign and a grant from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts. “The idea of presenting this project as a photo book attracted me because the format could show more photographs than what is normally possible within the physical space of a gallery,” he explained. “Designing the book also presented challenges and possibilities that are different from designing an exhibition. I learned a lot by creating the specific selection and sequence of images in order for the series to be experienced as a book.” 1972 is now available online through Amazon and other select retailers.




Contributor: David Yen
Images Courtesy of Kana Kawanishi Art Gallery



寄稿人: David Yen
Images Courtesy of Kana Kawanishi Art Gallery

Book Design Shop

Book Design Shop is a specialty design bookstore in Beijing that was founded by Taiwanese entrepreneur, Tony Li. The shop has its own courtyard and is located in Dashilar, near Qianmen off Yangmeizhu Xiejie, in a small hutong. It carries a wide selection of books that would appeal to both avid readers and design aficionados alike. The shop’s carefully curated selection of publications from both Chinese and international authors showcases a wide range of material, from creative editorials to thought-provoking design books. From time to time, the store also turns into an exhibition space that promotes the creative work of illustrators, photographers, and other independent artists. Tony encourages artists to publish their own work and having it available to be purchased through his shop.

北京前门大栅栏的杨梅竹斜街,自古书局林立。台湾人Tony Li创立的书的设计店,便是在这条街上一个带院子的微型胡同空间内,向喜爱设计和阅读的人们推荐来自国内外的编辑创意、精彩版式设计,以及经典生活用品设计,同时也不定期有摄影、插画等独立创作以及出版主题相关展览展出。此外,Tony也努力鼓励创作者将作品集成出版物并代为销售,书的设计店用自己的方式给这条出版业老街添加了新的含义。

In today’s busy world, oversaturated with an endless stream of images and text from social media, being able to produce quality content is of utmost importance. Tony, who also previously worked in media, believes, “Many people still consider the book to be the most ideal way for receiving and disseminating information, especially among professionals. A book is an amazing gateway – the content of every book is a world in itself.” He hopes that his store can become a select shop for books.

今天的社交网络充斥着各种图片和文字,所以当下的出版物更注重用心、独特的编辑。“书的形态,在很多人,特别是专业者的心目中,还是最理想的载体。” Tony,这位曾经的媒体人说,“书籍是个很好的窗口,每个书籍的内容都是一个世界。”正所谓“一书一世界”,他要做的是一个书的select shop。

With a background in architecture, Tony used to work for GQ Taiwan along with various lifestyle magazines. He had experienced the turbulent times for lifestyle magazines in the early 2000s, as well as the impact of internet media affecting printed publications following the financial crisis. Having been through these uncertain times, Tony’s passion for lifestyle, design, and printed publications still remains unchanged. Shortly after relocating to Beijing in 2010, he founded a social app targeting readers. He also worked on branding it as well as creating content specifically for iPad users. He found that he was fascinated by the role of the medium that information is delivered through.


“As magazine editors, by introducing the subjects through writing and photos, aren’t we really just recommending things we like? Whether it be a person, an event, or a city. If we remove ourselves, then this person, event, or item will still possess a certain relationship with the reader. Items are unable to interact and communicate with potential users so by this logic we are just the middleman. There are a lot of products, magazines, and books out there, so the purpose of Book Design Shop is just to serve as a medium.”


Canadian philosopher McLuhan coined a very famous phrase, “The medium is the message”. Tony truly believes in and lives by this quote. In his eyes, books are a gateway, and the contents of every book is a world in itself. He believes that all people and things are also mediums and this is why his shop carries well-designed household products. He later expanded on that idea by creating an online shop that he named Goods & Media (or Wujie in Chinese). The first Chinese character “Wu” represents item, and “Jie” represents medium. Tony chooses the products to feature on the website based on his own criteria: the design quality, content quality, and if it has a “soul”.


Tony is elated about the fact that the connections between people and publishing companies, as well as between one another, are now more closely knit than ever. “I have known the author of Design Tokyo for quite a while. I feel like his work is finally starting to become different from before. There was one that I particularly liked and I asked him if he wanted to have it up for purchase in my store. Also because of this book, I developed a closer relationship with my importer. This store has a good working relationship with all the creators of the books that we carry. The connection that I have with the authors of these books is what separates us from any other bookstore out there.” Tony even photographs and writes the descriptions for all of the items that are sold online; every single magazine, book, and product has been personalised by Tony.


When asked about the future, he says that as a business owner there are always unexpected problems that may arise. If in five years, the store still remains, it will mostly have an online presence and the physical storefront will become more of a showroom. Not long ago the co-founder of Airbnb, Joe Gebbia, also visited Book Design ShopTony is particularly proud of that visit from Joe. “He purchased a lot of independent publications, some published out of China, some from Japan. He said that he didn’t ever want to leave my shop. Joe Gebbia’s own Twitter bio reads ‘I design things’. so I felt he really was passionate about everything he purchased.” Through Tony’s interpretation, the design that Joe Gebbia mentions and Tony’s own ideas about things being a medium are interconnected. “The definition of ‘design’ is actually quite broad. It involves trying to find order in this vast world of ours.” This is also what Tony strives to do as an ardent observer of life.

问及未来,Tony说,做生意常常会出现规划外的事情,如果5年后,这间店还在的话,会在网络上为主,而线下则作为showroom的形态存在。前段时间Airbnb的创始人之一Joe Gebbia也曾造访过书的设计店,这让Tony颇感自豪。Tony说: “他买了一大堆独立出版。有中国的,有日本的。还包括一些小物件。他说这个店他都不想离开。Joe Gebbia的Twitter页面上写着‘I design things’(我设计东西),他真的是喜欢这些东西。”Tony的理解中,Joe Gebbia所说的“设计”和他所说的媒介的概念是相近的,“这个‘设计’的概念是非常广泛的,都是在一个很大的世界里中去找到一个逻辑系统。”而这也是Tony作为一位生活观察者会一直努力去做的事。

No. 23, Yangmeizhu Xiejie, Dashilar
Xicheng District, Beijing
People’s Republic of China

+86 010 8319 7844


Wechat: bookdesignshop


Contributors: Banny Wang, Eric Zhang
Photographer: Banny Wang

中国 北京市西城区

+86 010 8319 7844


微信: bookdesignshop


供稿人: Banny Wang, Eric Zhang
摄影师: Banny Wang

The Illustrations of Jonathan Jay Lee

Jonathan Jay Lee is a Taiwanese-American illustrator and artist, now based in Hong Kong. A graduate of Parsons School of Design in New York, Jonathan has developed a vibrant style that draws from both Japanese manga and Western comic book traditions. Through his unique depictions of Hong Kong, he tells us stories about the city that are iconic, and at the same time, feel authentic.

Jonathan Jay Lee是一名定居香港的台裔美籍插畫家。畢業于紐約帕森斯設計學院的他,吸取了日式和西式漫畫的精髓,作品畫風異常明媚。通過對香港獨到的解讀,他筆下所描繪的正是這座城市最典型和真實的面貌。

Neocha: Tell us about your journey of becoming an artist.

Jonathan: I actually got started as an artist the “safe” way, in that I got into and went to one of the best design schools in the world. After that, I played it all or nothing. I interned, hustled, and asked for work wherever I could. I put myself out there as much as I was able to with exhibitions and networking, often with the help of friends and family.

Definitely the biggest challenge was having to prove to others that I could do this, that there’s nothing wrong with being an artist. I grew up in an environment where achievement was measured by my grades, and wanting to pursue a creative career questioned all of those notions. I suppose that you could say my biggest struggles were internal. Is the work good enough? Am I a fraud? Will people one day realize this and send me away forever? But as a professional you can’t have the luxury of having uncertainty in yourself.

Neocha: 可否告訴我們妳是如何走上藝術家之路的?

Jonathan: 爭取並進入了世界一流的設計學院學習,我當初是以這樣一種“穩妥”的方式成爲藝術家的。那之後,我就開始孤注一擲。我去實習、去找工作,四處奔走。得益于親朋好友的幫忙,我總是盡可能多地去參與各種展覽和社交活動。


Neocha: Can you tell us about how you developed your style?

Jonathan: Style is not something I think about too much. You just make what you make, and somehow you’re drawn to certain things, just because. I love and grew up with comics, so I was deeply inspired by that. If someone were to create the greatest and most amazing thing in the history of the world, I would say it would exist in the form of a comic book. I still get goosebumps from Inoue Takehiko’s drawings for his work on Vagabond. Moebius’ sci-fi landscapes make me want to cry, and the smell of print still inspires me.

Neocha: 可否和我們說說妳的創作風格是如何形成的?

Jonathan: 風格並不是我會過多考慮的東西。妳只要堅持做,不知不覺地就會沈浸其中,就好比,我喜歡漫畫,漫畫伴隨著我的成長,所以它會對我有很深的啓發。如果說有人在世界曆史中創造了最偉大和最驚豔的東西,那我會脫口而出說是漫畫書。井上雄彥的《浪客行》至今能讓我熱血沸騰,而Moebius的sci-fi中的場景繪制簡直美到讓我哭,且那股印刷的油墨味也給了我不少靈感。

Neocha: Hong Kong plays a big role in your work. How does the city inspire you?

Jonathan: I was born in the states and my family is from Taiwan, but Hong Kong is my home. I took it for granted when I was growing up, but it wasn’t until after I left that I missed all of its charms. Capturing those charms was a challenge when I was given a steady editorial gig for a few years, in which I had to illustrate the many different streets of Hong Kong. Each street had its own appeal and special kind of seduction. It was because of that and my hatred of Hollywood representations of the city that inspired me to represent Hong Kong in a way that it deserves. I love meeting people who come through Hong Kong, and then one day decide, “OK, I’m done, I don’t need to go anywhere else. Let’s settle here.”

Neocha: 香港一直是妳作品中的一大重頭,可否說說這座城市是如何啓發妳的?

Jonathan: 我在美國出生,父母來自台灣,但我的家卻在香港。我過去視它爲理所當然,直到我離開後,我開始深深思念這裏的無盡美好。曾經有幾年,我有一份穩定的編輯工作,這份需要我創作香港不同街道的插畫。當時我發現捕捉這座城市的美妙是個挑戰,因爲每一條街道都有它自己獨特的魅力。就是基于此,以及我對好萊塢式浮誇呈現的反感,讓我想用一個更適合這座城市的方式來展現香港。我喜歡和那些來香港的人們見面,然後在某一天我決定: “好吧,不再糾結了,我不需要去別的地方了,不如就在這裏定居下來吧。”

Neocha: A lot of your artwork seems reminiscent of street photography, in that it captures everyday moments in public spaces. How did you start creating this kind of work?

Jonathan: It first started with a project called Ho Lee Fook, which Black Sheep Restaurants commissioned me to create a number of pieces that revolved around Graham Street Market. The market has been around for over a century, but would soon be demolished to give way to developing properties. For that, I went out and collected as many references as I could about it, and decided to create moments of nostalgia. The most beautiful thing about illustration is that it is representative. Photography can be faked sure, but its real beauty lies in the truths it tells. In that sense, these illustrations represent my truths of living in Hong Kong. Once I had the setting in place, each piece told its own story in a strangely inevitable way.

Neocha: 妳的許多作品如同一幅幅街道老照片,其中呈現的是在公共空間的日常瞬間。妳是如何開始創作這類風格作品的?

Jonathan: 是從一個叫做“Ho Lee Fook”的項目開始,這個項目是我受Black Sheep Restaurants集團的委托,創作一系列表現嘉鹹街市場周邊環境的作品。這個市場已存在一個多世紀了,但馬上就要面臨被拆除,新建設也將開始。爲此我想盡辦法收集盡可能多的參考資料,決定創作一些可以讓人緬懷這個地方的定格小瞬間。插畫的美妙之處在于它的表現力。攝影也可以不真實,虛實之間,這些插畫真實展示了我所生活的香港。每當作品設定一確立,每幅作品所承載的故事就躍然紙上。

Neocha: What are some of your future projects?

Jonathan: I have some very cool projects that will come to life in Singapore, in the U.S., and of course in Hong Kong very soon! I’m also a Professor of Illustration at SCAD Hong Kong, an institution that I’m very honored to be a part of. Education is important, and I feel like I am finally at a place where I have something to offer to students who are venturing on a similar path.

Neocha: 能否告訴我們妳未來的計劃?

Jonathan: 我很快會有一些很棒的項目在新加坡、美國,當然還有香港展開。我同時也在薩凡納藝術設計學院香港分校做插畫教授,我真的很榮幸能夠加入這所學院。教育很重要,我也覺得我到了傳授自己所知給別人的時候,給那些正在這道相似旅程上的學生。

Website: jonathanjaylee.com


Contributor: George Zhi Zhao
Select Images Courtesy of: Ho Lee Fook



供稿人: George Zhi Zhao
精选作品友情提供: Ho Lee Fook