Japan Institute of Design has studied Social Design under the supervision of the Chairman, Mr. Kenji Ekuan since its establishment. Then we issued the declaration of Holo-design in June, 2008. What is Holo-design? Numerous people asked us this question. It is certainly an unfamiliar term for most people. The outline of my idea for Holo-design starts with its etymology, HOLON. Holon is a compound word using the Greek words Holos, meaning the whole, and On, meaning a part. Any piece is a part of a whole, and the whole is made by its pieces. The concept is being a part as well as the whole.

The Holography technique was invented based on this idea of Holon; a hologram is an image made by holography. When an image in 3D or a record of information printed on a film by holography is cut into pieces, a complete stereoscopy can be reconstructed by applying laser beams on a piece (a fragment.) This is a characteristic feature of holograms. Information for the whole is recorded on a piece (a fragment) and piece is a part as well. It can be compared to a human being, the globe, or even the universe: the whole is formed of an assembly of parts, and a part contains the information for the whole. A physicist, Dr. David Bohm, said that the structure of the universe is identical to a hologram. There was a trial to visualize his theory. In a masterpiece of film, Powers of Ten, which was produced by leading U.S. designers Mr. & Mrs. C. Eames, the relationship of a piece to the whole is presented as the theme. It is a film which precisely expresses the fact that Macro Cosmos, the furthest limit of the universe, and the ultimate Micro Cosmos, which is in our cell, are derived from the same concept.

Why not apply this relation to design? I then came up with the concept of Holo-design. I would like to briefly review the evolution of the concept of design from product design to Social Design. Until the 1960s, design was focused primarily for a part, namely products. Concept of design neither considered nor covered other parts such as society, the globe, or the universe. Products were designed only for meeting the requirements of the market where products belonged. Gradually, some people start seeking a more complete concept for design. This movement lead to the idea of Social Marketing. It was to widen our consciousness not only to the market where products belong, but also to the society that contained the market. It was a very important step. Environmental pollution and consumers’ movements such as lead by Ralph Nader in early 1970s were the clues for study of Social Marketing. In the beginning, Social Marketing was a defensive tool to protect enterprises. However since the 1990s, Social Marketing has become more proactive and positive, urging more consideration of the social responsibilities of enterprises.

The solution to Social Marketing is Social Design. This is a concept to treat design not only with the relation between the products and market but to regard design in conjunction with the society in general. When the product to be designed has a large influence on the society, the concept of social design incorporates the design of the society as well. In the design of the Eco Car, for example, the design only of the product, the car itself, would be incomplete. What is required is a reconsideration of the entire transportation infrastructure and system of the society where the car is to be used. The car needs to serve not only the drivers, but also the society in general.

Further to Holo-design: Civilization, which has been making restless “progress”, sometimes forgets to serve the society. This fact is the cause of environmental damage, a serious problem from the late 20th century, but left largely untouched and left over to the 21st century; pollution in late 20th century and environmental and resource issues we’re facing. It has since expanded as an environmental issue for the entire globe such as by the increase of carbon dioxide and global warming. The structure of such problem is contained in one product as a reduced form of the globe. It is important to be aware of the concept that the reduced form of the globe is the product and the enlarged form of the product is the globe.

Furthermore, it is not only applied for the relation between a product and the globe. Disruption caused by the progress of civilization is not limited to the environment. The progress of civilization causes more stress from the very products that were made to provide convenience. Examples include stress caused by mobile phones, certainly one of modern conveniences, and health problems caused by modern building materials. Product design needs to be conscious of the level of human nerve and cell that receive every stress. It is to realize the design that takes to all the stress, from the stress for environment of the globe (Macro Cosmos) to the stress for human cell (Micro Cosmos), into consideration. And we would like to call it holonic design = “Holo-design.”

Seiichi Mizuno
Chief Director
Japan Institute of Design

Japan Institute of Design,
San Ai Bldg, 2F 3-30-14 Takada, Toshima-ku, Tokyo
Phone: 81-3-5958-2155 Fax: 81-3-5958-2156

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