How to describe the unique character of Japanese design? There’s an underlying minimalism rooted in traditional culture; a fierce commitment to usability and sustainability; a marriage of cutting-edge technology with impeccable craft. Increasingly, these qualities are being sought out by foreign companies. Major Japanese talents like Naoto Fukasawa, Nendo, and Tokujin Yoshioka are working not only with domestic manufacturers but with European ones as well. Fortunately, these international collaborations have not diluted the designs’ essential Japan-ness. Fukasawa’s ceramic tiles for the Italian manufacturer Brix, for example, were inspired by the pattern left on tofu by wet cotton fabric, and they maintain high kansei value, a concept that roughly translates to “emotional and physical appeal.” The other products shown on these pagesmanage a similarly seamless melding of function and beauty for more efficient, more elegant living.