Iki is a hard concept
to pin down. Writing from Paris in the 1920s, Japanese philosopher Kuki Shūzō
remarked that though the French terms chic
and raffiné share connotations with
iki, no European word can really capture the many layers of the Japanese.
Geisha are iki, as is traditional Japanese architecture and the writing of
Haruki Murakami. In design, parallel lines and vertical stripes are iki, as are
certain grays, browns and blues. Getting the idea? Soon enough, you’ll be
trying to explain it to your friends!