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What is Iki?

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Iki is a Japanese aesthetic that might be translated "refined spontaneity". This suggests that people and objects are more appealing when they have a creative and unpredictable quality that is constrained by culture.

Iki & Design

Iki suggests that design is most effective when it is creative but constrained by culture. This might be extended to suggest that mastery of design requires cultural refinement.

Notes

It should be noted that even in Japanese, the concept of Iki is somewhat vague. Its definitions often have little in common. For example, one famous definition suggests Iki is the combination of the romance of the Geisha, the valor of the Samurai and the resignation of the Buddhist priesthood. Generally speaking, most definitions have a sense of culture, emotion, sophistication, spontaneity, confidence and maturity.
Overview: Iki
Type
Definition (1)
Refined spontaneity
Definition (2)
The idea that creativity and confidence are best when they are subtle and constrained by culture.
Definition (3)
The romance of the Geisha, the valor of the Samurai and the resignation of the Buddhist priesthood.
~ Attributed to Shuzo Kuki
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