What is Beauty?


When I was younger, I loved sports cars. Every detail of sports cars is designed only for speed, and so, they are collections of correct answers as a means of transportation, which is why they look beautiful. Such an easy logic once comforted me to some degree but, at the same time, provoked some smoldering questions: What about art that is of no utility? What is beauty?

Source: https://www.dw.com/en/why-sports-cars-are-works-of-art/a-45661630

Immanuel Kant wrote about aesthetic judgement in his work. I tried to understand, but it was too difficult for me. In such time as I had been in the depths of despair about my poor understanding, a simple sentence of a scientific paper tagged my eyes: Beauty is judged within 1 second in the brain (only in 0.8 seconds, to be more precise).

I thought beauty was a subject of philosophy, but now it seems to be studied in science (neuro-science) as well. The neuro-scientists have identified brain regions contributing to processing aesthetic appeal, and found there is a close relation between beauty and pleasure responses in our neural network. The Plato’s definition ー beauty is pleasure through eye or ear ー seems to be correct.

I know. We now come to have another mystery to solve: What is pleasure? The same as my other journals, I can’t draw a clear conclusion, but the scientific paper this time gives us a good clue. There are key object properties to increase the aesthetic appeal of an object, and two of them are shared in the paper that are “symmetry” and “curvature.” Our products (the above chair consists only of curved lines, for example) can be said to be beautiful in neuro-science.


Shungo Ijima

He is travelling around the world. His passion is to explain Japan to the world, from the unique viewpoint accumulated through his career: overseas posting, MBA holder, former official of the Ministry of Finance.



 

A Tale about Our Product: ALP Sofa Bed

When Conde House just started up, planning to expand the factory with only about 30 members, a young stranger came visiting us. The executive director was moved by his passion of wanting to design furniture, invited the young man to his house, and talked all night. From the next day, the young man joined the company without any formal paper work or interview, and was appointed to work at the factory. His eagerness of wanting to become a designer drove him to draw many sketches and to show them to the director over and over. Among them was a unique-looking sofa which was “ALP” sofa bed. This piece of furniture gave us a breakthrough: we took on a challenge in the molding technology.


It has been 46 years since its launch. There were times when the sofa faced a crisis of being discontinued; however, it has now become the longest selling product of Conde House owing to the support of customers. The secret to its longevity lies in the fact that it suits the Japanese lifestyle of lying down on a sofa. We believe another secret behind its popularity is the wide seating area seeming smaller than it actually is. Staff selling ALP sofas for many years said that wives persuade their husbands to buy the sofa for its lightness which enables them to move the sofa and clean the floor easily.


About the young man designing the ALP sofa; he left Conde House in a few years, and nothing whatever is known of him now. It’s such a shame that we can’t thank him face to face for leaving such a great masterpiece behind.


Shungo Ijima

He is travelling around the world. His passion is to explain Japan to the world, from the unique viewpoint accumulated through his career: overseas posting, MBA holder, former official of the Ministry of Finance.