japanese art, design and culture

Posts from — July 2008

yet another distraction

Sfgirlbybay’s post last week, and my subsequent post the following day, on how people are reinterpreting the traditional bookshelf, and the books themselves, inspired me to pull the trigger on this project I had been thinking about for a while. This is my interpretation of the bookshelf.


It’s at my desk, which needed a little something anyway to make it more interesting!

July 31, 2008   2 Comments

Emerging Japanese Photographers Part 4

Gentaro Ishizuka is, for the most part, self-taught in the art of photography. After dropping our of the prestigious Waseda University Ishizuka traveled through 60 countries from the likes of Sri Lanka to Germany, recording his travels using his camera. He also participated in the Gelatin Silver Sessions, which I wrote about a while back.

His upcoming show, “Inner Passage” is at the Gallery White Room and opens on August 1st. The show consists of a series of images taken from a canoe floating down the waterways that so quietly infiltrate the booming metropolis known as Tokyo.

Image courtesy of Gallery White Room

Below is an image from a previous show entitled “You went too far north,” in which the artist captures his intrigue towards an oil pipeline – a vein that pumps blood into our industrialized modern society – that spans the desolate land of Alaska.

image courtesy of gallery sora

July 31, 2008   Comments Off

I couldn’t help myself

Aren’t these wooden business card holders great? They’re designed by RICE (yes, the same RICE from my previous post) and sell for between $50 ~ $80, depending on the style. I think they would be perfect for anyone entering the workforce, or even starting a new job!

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July 30, 2008   Comments Off

Emerging Japanese Photographers Part 3

Ryo Owada received his undergrad and MFA from Tokyo Polytechnic. His name first traveled abroad when he participated in the “ReGeneration.50 Photographers of Tomorrow” exhibit at the musee de l’Elysee. His first solo exhibition, World of Round, also received a lot of attention.

I thought it would be interesting to compare seascapes since yesterday we looked at those of Yukikazu Ito and Hiroshi Sugimoto. It’s amazing how 3 seemingly similar images can convey such different messages. Ryo Owada’s image below, from the series, “Sense of Beauty,” feels the most calming, and in a way, most insignificant. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems intentional.


Also from the same series…




All images courtesy of DEX

What I like about Owada’s images are that they capture moments in time as if it is the only moment.

July 30, 2008   Comments Off

Baden Baden finds!

Like I hinted yesterday, one of my favorite resources, Baden Baden, has distracted me from this weekly series on emerging Japanese photogs.

Designed by a furniture designer who goes by the name of RICE, this oh-so-perfect sofa and stool caught my eye. They’re also available in several other drool-worthy colors.
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Stool about$300; Sofa about $1,600

I also really like these wooden pendent lights in the motif of icicles and water drops. Designed by PENDULUM.

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Icicle Light about $570; Water Drop Light about $470

July 29, 2008   Comments Off

Emerging Japanese Photographers Part 2

Yukikazu Ito graduated from Nihon University College of Art and went on to establish his own photo studio in 2000. He has several photobooks under his belt already so it could be argued that he has already “emerged,” but I’m including him in this series based on the fact that he is still in an early stage of his career and I’ve been very impressed at how his work has developed.



Images courtesy of Nikon

Ito’s images of Tokyo Bay, are reminiscent of Hiroshi Sugimoto’s Seascapes from the 1980s. And while Sugimoto’s images are calming in their assessment of air, water and life, Ito’s, on the contrary, are eerie and foreshadowing. Perhaps it is the context in which the artist positions his images as being of Tokyo Bay; directly behind us, cut out of our vantage point, lies one of the worlds largest metropolitan cities. The fact that 2 worlds are (viciously?) colliding, and yet we are excluded from all the action, is particularly unnerving.

July 29, 2008   Comments Off

Emerging Japanese Photographers Part 1

I was inspired by all the great work I’ve seen recently coming out of a generation of emerging Japanese photographers; lot’s of interesting perspectives that typically were not seen in Japanese photography. I’ve decided to record those observations here in a weekly series on emerging Japanese photographers, perhaps with occasional distractions ;-)

So, without further ado, I give you Lieko Shiga.


Images courtesy of Konica Minolta

Born in 1980, Shiga left Japan during college to pursue her studies of photography at the Chelsea College of Art & Design in London. Her largely participatory works stray from more traditional Japanese styles, which tend to avoid interaction. For example, the top image is from “Canary,” a series of locations that are almost like a travelogue; places that were indicated in answers from questions posed to various residents in Japan, Australia and Singapore. “Lilly” (bottom image) is also a series of ambitious photographs in which residents of public housing projects were used. Those photographs were then re-shot to create multi-layered exposures.

July 28, 2008   Comments Off

Template in Claska

Another great piece by Torafu Architects; the renovation of 3 rooms in the boutique hotel, CLASKA. Reminds me of one of those doll houses where every object has a designated location. This is actually a perfect solution for hotel rooms because so often people carry more stuff the the room accommodates, and belongings end up strewn across tables and floors.

July 25, 2008   1 Comment

Boolian by Torafu Architects

Up-and-coming architect firm Torafu, comprised of Koichi Suzuno and Shinya Kamuro, took first place in the Creators Colosseum Space Awards for their design of a cafe in Tokyo University’s Graduate School of Medicine.

You don’t really get a sense from the pictures, but I would imagine that the circular cutouts serve as some interesting frames of the environment.




July 25, 2008   Comments Off

Drawing Cup by Okamura Ikue

This is such a cute idea! Okamura Ikue came up with the idea to coat paper cups with a markable surface. The reasoning? Although reusable, paper cups often get prematurely thrown away and replaced when the owner forgets which one belongs to them. By creating an easy and playful method of marking your cup the designer is encouraging us to re-use, as well as to not take for granted the mundane objects of our life.


The design received honorable mention at the Creator’s Colosseum.

July 24, 2008   Comments Off