From 5 July 2008:
T-shirts featuring cartoon characters with huge sparkling eyes, pastel coloured plush animals adorning mobile phones and even cars with a Hello Kitty motif—’cute’ is no longer confined to products for children; it’s an aesthetic popular with all ages.
The home of this cute style is Japan, although design that is ‘kawaii’, as it is called in Japanese, is increasingly embraced in the west as cool.
What’s behind this growing fascination with ‘cute’? And why is cute design considered quintessentially Japanese?
Masako Fukui attempts to solve the puzzle for By Design.
Rebecca Suter Lecturer in Japanese Studies, The University of Sydney
Roland Kelts Author of Japanamerica, How Japanese Pop Culture has Invaded the US
Sonja Barry Department manager, English Books, at Kinokuniya Bookstore, Sydney
Masako Fukui Freelance radio documentary maker