How to acquire “an eye:” visit Kyoto

If you want great results in creative efforts, such as product design or advertising, you need three things:

1)  The “A” team within your agency or design group.

2) An insightful brief that gives the creative team an intimate view of the customer and clarifies project goals.

3)  An eye, enabling good judgement of whether the results achieve the objectives in the brief.

About #3…   You might be born with this ability.  You might have access to a good teacher.  Or, you can travel to Kyoto, Japan for an aesthetic infusion.

Kyoto is home to the highest concentration of beautiful gardens that I know of.  Three days of patient absorption in Kyoto will train your eye to see balance, scale, subtlety, refinement, excellence, and restraint.

Nijo Castle, Kyoto

My mom (a fine arts major) remarked after her visit, “you can aim your camera in any direction and get a perfectly composed picture.”  I was inspired by Kyoto to make my own halting attempt at a Japanese garden in my back yard.  I feel like I’m trying to conduct Beethoven after attending the Chicago Symphony a couple of times.  I have even dared to invite a Japanese colleague (a designer!) to my house to see it.  In finest Japanese fashion, he claimed not to know much about garden design, and was cautiously complimentary.


I will write more about the garden over time, but suffice it for now to say that it is a humbling experience to try to create a worthy Japanese garden.  Maybe I need to return to Kyoto for a refresher.  If you are convinced that you need to go as well, the Journal of Japanese Gardening runs trips with access to private gardens, thought to be the best.


6 Responses to “How to acquire “an eye:” visit Kyoto”

  1. 1 Bill Stevenson March 27, 2009 at 9:24 am

    Holy cow! Is that really somewhere in Chapel Hill?

  2. 2 JimForbes March 27, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    the garden looks quite relaxing. Why do you do when it snows? Accept the white atuff as the garden’s kharma? Very nice. I’d love to try that in my vegetable gardens, but I’mafroad rampaging burrowing rodents would be my kharmic reward.
    jim Forbes

  3. 3 KML March 30, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    Just wanted to tell you a Lenovo story that makes me sick. Read last weeks N&O story on the Levnovo eLounge the same day that I heard my replacement Lenovo battery which I ordered on March 9th would not be shipped until April 23rd. Well my current battery is now dead and will not recharge–so my laptop portable is really just a sleek , small plug-in. I called lenovo customer service and could not believe that it would take 6 weeks to get a battery! So, all the talk about brand building, aesthetics and value–is just garbage if the company can’t take an order and then deliver in a timely fashion. Don’t spend your time on thingslike the eLounge until your house is in order and the table stakes are solid. That’s my two cents–

    • 4 Craig Merrigan March 30, 2009 at 1:35 pm

      I’m sorry for your frustration. Let me help. Please send me your contact information and basic information about your order, and I will work on this. You are right: a brand can only be great by serving customers well.
      [cpmerrigan AT yahoo DOT com]

  4. 5 Kevin May 31, 2013 at 5:41 am

    Fantastic. I visited Japan last year, and it also inspired me to design my own Japanese style garden, which I’m in the thought process stage still now, and growing pants in pots that will be used. I had always admired Japanese gardens, but seeing a real one in Japan in person, made me fall absolutely in love. Your garden is off to a fine start.

  5. 6 Kevin May 31, 2013 at 5:42 am

    growing plants*, even!

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