The introduction presents avant-garde design in Japan as composed of different elements including postmodern aesthetics, critical theory, and new economic values. It emphasises the role of design and popular culture as a social, economic, and political agent and as a critical practice. Based on the ideas of Umberto Eco, Roland Barthes, Pierre Bourdieu, Jean Baudrillard, Michel Foucault, and Bruno Latour, it presents material and visual culture not only as a reflection of cultural norms and values but also as an active agent in shaping human behaviour and catalysing social forces. This point of departure leads to an explanation of how avant-garde designers made use of the socio-psychological power of the material objects and visual signs in order to challenge social conventions and formulate a new perception of reality by using everyday popular artefacts in novel ways. The introduction also describes the book’s interdisciplinary research methodology, which combines the disparate fields of art, design, sociology, business administration, marketing, and history, giving rise to a reading of aesthetics within its historical context and in relation to the socioeconomic forces of the network of consumption.
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