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In Japan, design is not what it seems. In colloquial Japanese, the loanword “dezain” (design) is used regularly in lieu of the two indigenous terms for the design process: “koan” (design conceptualization) and “zuan” (design actualization).

Kiyonori Muroga, the editor-in-chief of Tokyo-based IDEA Magazine — one of Japan’s foremost publications on graphic design — has been obsessed with exploring the implications of these two branches of design thinking since becoming an editor at IDEA in 2002.

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