This is Part 2 of our blog series, Brand Japan-Beyond Sushi and Bonsai, a tribute to the Japanese culture. 

Understanding the principles of Japanese garden design, which is rich in symbolism and meaning, offers many lessons for us when designing brand identities for luxury real estate marketing professionals.  One design principle of Japanese gardens is the Art of Stone.

“The Art of Stone in a Japanese garden is that of placement.  Its ideal does not deviate from Nature.” Isamu Noguchi, Japanese sculptor 1904-1988

The placement of a stone in a garden can communicate volumes of meaning to the observer.  How a brand is positioned can do the same. Your personal brand position, as a luxury real estate marketing professional, is what you stand for in the minds of your target market.  It is essential, however, that your brand position reflects your authentic , true nature .


Noguchi's placement of his sculpture, the Red Cube at the HSBC building in New York City Photo by Sean Pavlone

The gardens in Japan were closed to the public until the 20th century.  They were designed by the ruling elite and by monasteries as centers for meditation and worship.  The purpose was to provide a peaceful venue far from the madness of everyday life.  They represented the paradise of Buddha.

The basic elements of a garden are water, stones, and plants. Each stone, each plant had its place in order to express a mood of serenity.  If a garden has water (chisen style), it occupies the largest portion of the garden.  It is edged with groups of stones representing rocky seashore.  Water elements have islands in them because islands represent a sacred remote place or immortal happiness.

 In the dry gardens (karensansui style) the presence of water is not necessary.  The patterns of the water/the sea are represented in the patterns raked in the sand or gravel, and the island is represented by the perfect stone(s).

The plants are an expression of Japanese spiritual life.  Pines are beloved because they are evergreen and thus are symbols of long life and happiness. Other plant material includes dogwood, azalea, moss,   bamboo, and junipers.

Simply put, the Japanese garden aesthetic guidelines rely on asymmetry, the imperfect and odd numbers. This mirrors the concepts of Zen Buddhism: naturalness, tranquility, simplicity and austerity.



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