Some of the best design comes from Japan. One of my favorite periods of cultural explosion was the late edo period during the Meiji restoration. Here is a very interesting video highlighting modern Japanese architecture in a very interesting way. A lot of people don't know that the impressionists from France in the mid 19th century took a lot inspiration from a huge influx of Japanese prints and art works.
Here is some 80's video cheese about the whole thing.
And here is a good starter link with japanese designers. from Mocoloco
You can also read about Murakami, one of the more well known contemporary Japanese artists here. An example of his work is below.