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.

"I find it fundamental to tread carefully regarding this," Muroga says. "It is not self-evident in Japanese language, and thus the concept of what design actually is constantly changing."