japanese art, design and culture

Posts from — December 2008

the best ____ of 2008

I’m troubled. This could very well be my last post of 2008. So I thought I would make it special. And yet I lack the creativity and energy to come up with something, anything on my own. Hence the dilemma. Every year people do roundups of the best ____ of that year. So this is what I’ll do; a roundup of all the roundups! Art & Design related, that is. So here we go. For all the people who slept through 2008 and need to fill in the gaps, just between you and me, let’s just pretend this is all that happened. May 2009 be an adventurous year for all!

Best Balloon Art of 2008

Best Fashion Show Invitations of 2008

Best Science Images of 2008

Best Buzzwords of 2008 (beautifully typesetted by
Jessica Hische)

Best in Design & Architecture of 2008

Best Art Shows of 2008

Best (and Worst) Logo Redesigns of 2008

December 29, 2008   2 Comments

t’was the night before Christmas…

…and I was wondering what to write about.
Then I remembered this awesome project by artistic director and graphic designer Yuji Tokuda.Retired Weapons was originally launched in 2005 as a graphic design project that attempted to spread the word of peace. I think the images are spectacular and so striking.

“Retired Gun”

“Retired Rockets”

“Retired Bomb”

I want a flower vase shaped like one of these.
There are a couple animated greeting cards that you can send as well!

So, here’s wishing that more people retire their weapons next year and turn them into flower vases. Merry Christmas!!

December 24, 2008   4 Comments

public art proposals by Assistant

I just came across these proposals for public art in new york city by interdisciplinary design practice Assistant.

left | Pinball by Megumi Matsubara. Multiple large balloons, some on the street diverting traffic, some lodged in between buildings. right | Air Bridge by Hiroi Ariyama. Sections of the Manhattan bridge would be replaced with glass that, from far away, would seems like the bridge has missing sections. “Drivers will feel frightened every time they need to pass,” says Ariyama.

Awesome. One more reason to love New York.

December 23, 2008   Comments Off

Gift Guide ’08 | over 10,000 yen edition

For your fashionista friends, some pieces from Tokyo fashion house Basset Walker’s ’08 collection.
Knit 13,650yen | Tie 10,500yen | Pants 14,700yen

wacca aroma diffuser 14,490 yen
This gorgeous aroma diffuser, designed by Yuen’to Design, just went on sale today! It blows cool rings.

Humidifier Ver.3 19,950 yen
This beauty was designed by renowned industrial designer Naoto Fukasawa (plus minus zero). Weather the arid days in style! Oh, and I thought I would throw in these pictures from the special Christmas photo gallery.

Ryou collection 350,000 – 800,000 yen
These are a new brand of computer towers, quite droolworthy if you are into traditional Japanese wood crafting. The highest grade of ebony wood is selected and then hand carved by artisans, all the while retaining the beauty of the grain. You have to contact them to purchase one.

December 17, 2008   5 Comments

Gift Guide ’08| under 10,000 yen edition

There are 9 days till Christmas and if there is anyone in search of a gift for their friend overly obsessed with Japanese design, you’ve come to the right place! This year I’ve decided to separate my guide into 2 parts; under 10,000 yen and over 10,000 yen. The guide includes, what I believe, are some of the coolest Japanese designs that debuted in 2008.

You can also check out my gift guide from last year, when I covered children’s gifts from around the world, including Germany, Japan, Italy & everywhere else!


d-torso cows 1,500 yen
In case you didn’t know, next year is the year of the cow. What better way to acknowledge our favorite farm fauna than to give this hands-on assembly-required cow. Guaranteed to keep you busy on those cold snowy days.

I’m also quite a fan of the Moomin series as well.

talking salt/pepper/soy sauce 1,575 yen
Designed by nendo, these oddly addictive mouths are actually phonetic representations of Yu, Shi and Ko (soy sauce, salt and pepper, repectivley). Thanks to anna, a commenter, we found out that Target has begun carrying them!

interior faux-grass KUSA 1,700 yen
For your friends who can’t manage to keep a plant alive in their apartment for more than 1 week. KUSA was originally designed by Hiromi Taki and Tomonori Oohata from Switch Design and released under the +d brand. They can be purchased HERE.

Toy Elephant 2,310 yen
This adorable toy elephant was hand made by a wood artisan who goes by the name of ta-chi-tsu-te-toy.

Isabrella 3,150 yen
Ok, so I cheated on this one. It’s not from Japan. It was designed by OFESS, a design firm founded in 2007 and based out of Hong Kong. This umbrella, which is still their only product, is perhaps one of the most stylish I’ve ever seen.

story coaster 3,150 yen
Because every set of coasters should tell a story. They’re not available online but you can pick them up at any about a girl shop in Tokyo.

Designing Design by Hara Kenya $33
Hara Kenya’s highly acclaimed book is finally available in English and ever-so conveniently on Amazon. The creative force behind MUJI discusses his previous work and aesthetic.

GOM ashtray 3,800 yen
Enshrined in Moma’s permanent collection, Masayuki Kurokawa’s GOM ashtray elavates rubber to a whole new level of design. This is the perfect gift for any smoker not expected to kick the habit in the next 12-24 months.

GOM HL ashtray

GOM PR ashtray

love dove card case 6,930 yen
Imagine pulling one of these out at your next business meeting! The love dove leather card case, fully equiped with a pop-out dove, was designed by Shoichi Ishizawa and Makiko Miyata of Ultra Tama. You can pick one up online or at La Porte Orange (GMAP) in Tokyo.

December 16, 2008   1 Comment

paul smith credit crunch tote

I got a kick out of this new Paul Smith credit crunch tote! Unfortunatly, it looks like it’s already sold out. I guess for 10 euro even your most conservative consumer can open their wallet.

December 16, 2008   Comments Off

Peace in White / Nothing but Everything

While I’m putting the finishing touches on my 2008 Christmas Gift Guide, just thought I’d post these images from the show, “Peace in White / Nothing but Everything.” Unfortunately it ended yesterday (sorry) but I thought it would be worthwhile because I really like how the artist, Asako Ishizuka, portrays the beauty of life’s visibilities and invisibilities in this piece titled Tsutsumu Katachi – Wrapping.

Peace in White / Nothing but Everythig was a group show of 12 artists using textiles and working with themes of peace, life and coexistence. The show ran for 2 weeks at the KCC Gallery (GMAP) in Tokyo and closed yesterday.

Stay tuned for my gift guide coming this week. If you’re interested you can also check out my gift guide from last year. I did an international children’s gift guide that consisted of gifts from Germany, Japan, Italy & everywhere else!

via grijs

December 15, 2008   Comments Off

Hiroshi Sugimoto’s Sea Scapes at the Gagosian

“Sea of Japan” (1996) by Hiroshi Sugimoto

If you have never seen Hiroshi Sugimoto’s Seascapes you should probably reflect on your last 5 or 10 years of life as being virtually insignificant in its absence of Sugimotoness. Then you should laugh off the silly claim because, hey, it’s just art. Then you should make your way over to the Gagosian Gallery on 21st street to check out said Seascapes and enjoy an exhibit architecturally constructed by Sugimoto himself.

“Ionion Sea” (1990) by Hiroshi Sugimoto

I think it’s really interesting that many Japanese contemporary photographers have created similar work, assumingly stemming from an intrigue with the ocean. I know, I know, I brought this up before. I guess the most obvious explanation is that Japan is an island, hence the magnified influence of the high seas.

Untitled print by Yukikazu Ito

Untitled print from the series, “Sense of Beauty” by Ryo Owada

December 10, 2008   2 Comments

Ai Kijima at Franklin Parrasch

I went to go check out the opening reception of Ai Kijima’s solo show over at the Franklin Parrasch gallery on 57th Street. Kijima uses found fabrics from thrift shops and flea markets to sew together images of subculture and pop culture. I really enjoyed looking at her mesmerizing collages. The impression I got was that they were new pieces of work, rather than a collection of artifacts from other people’s lives. Perhaps that’s because the act of sewing (as opposed to other means of collage) is very permanent and authoritative. It made me think about her decision making, as opposed to where these individual pieces originally belonged.

“Golf Lesson #125″

“Golf Mom”

“Peace on Earth”

Images courtesy of Franklin Parrasch gallery

Over the past 2 years Kijima has been increasing her international exposure. In fact, during 2008 all her shows took place abroad. And she recently relocated herself from Tokyo to Brooklyn (yay!).

December 9, 2008   Comments Off

Wasara now has an online shop!

The good people at Wasara just sent me an email announcing the grand opening of their (much anticipated) online shop! The most beautiful paper plates and containers you ever did see just got that much more accessible. Yay!!!


December 4, 2008   5 Comments