japanese art, design and culture

Posts from — October 2009

on the road

on the road

I apologize that posting has been a little slow this week. We’re on the road right now and it’s been hard to sit down at a computer for any extended period of time. Regularity will resume next week! Hope everyone had a happy Halloween!

October 31, 2009   4 Comments

wooden toy breakfast | Sasaki Kogei

Love, love, love this new design from Sasaki Kogei. Almost as much as I love the fun fam table manners set.

sasaki kogei toy morning

October 26, 2009   6 Comments

Takaoka Crafts Competition 2009

The results from the Takaoka Crafts Competition – one of the most anticipated and watched craft shows in Japan – were announced earlier this month! Below are some of the highlights.

takaoka crafts - coil vessel by ken noguchi

Ken Noguchi’s “Coil Vessel” (lacquer, hemp, paper string) took first place for his bold interpretation of the traditional art of lacquerware.

takaoka crafts - shizukana sora by tanaka misa

Misa Tanaka’s “Shizukana Sora” (Quiet Sky) took second place for her elegant fusing of porcelain and glass.

Placing honorable mention were some notable pieces as well.

takaoka crafts - Golden by Noriko Matsumoto

“Oogon” (Golden) by Noriko Matsumoto is stunning in her delicate use of silk and plant dyeing.

takaoka crafts - Zabuton by Junpei Tatsuno

I also like Junpei Tatsuno’s “Zabuton” (cushions used for sitting) molded out of Aizu Kiri wood (Paulownia wood from the Aizu region). Kiri wood has a long history in Japan with the notable tradition of planting a Kiri tree when a baby girl was born and then fashioning it into a dresser as a present when she gets married.

Birch Sake Bottle | Takaoka Crafts Competition 2008

October 22, 2009   14 Comments

y+m design office | Kaidannoie (Stairs House)

Also known as coolest. house. ever., Stairs House is a beach-side residential home in Shimane Prefecture, Japan that was designed by y+m design office. It was completed last year for two teaching parents and their kids who wanted a space that was warm, bright and private, and where they could invite their students over. (click images to enlarge)

kaidannoie stairs house

The solution turned out to be – as you can obviously see – stairs. Glass slits in between the stairs allow light to shine in while creating a natural shade for privacy. The home also functions well in different seasons, maximizing ventilation during the summer while housing warmth during the winter.

kaidannoie stair house (3)

All that sounds great but do you know what I love most about this house? That you can actually climb around and play on your own house!What a ground breaking idea. Who said homes only function as a shelter?

kaidannoie stair house

kaidannoie stair house (2)

kaidannoie stair house (4)

kaidannoie stair house (6)

October 21, 2009   4 Comments

Suntory Midorie

The 3rd company, and the most recently established (and the most likely to succeed given their economy of scale) in the “we’ll help you plant stuff” industry, is Midorie, a subsidiary of the major beverage company Suntory.  Launched in 2008, Midorie offers rooftop and wall surface greening that utilizes Puffcal, “an originally developed sponge-like soil substitute” that is lighter and more versatile than soil. This is actually quite significant given that weight considerations and the structural capacity of the roof are at the heart of planning a rooftop garden.

Tokyo Green Space wrote them up recently but what I wanted to highlight was their online shop that just launched a few weeks ago. The store is perfect for people wanting to greenify their home without the hassle of consultations and structural engineers.

midorie cassette wall installation
midorie frame wall installations
top | Midorie Cassettes
bottom | Midorie Frames

The Frame (5,040 yen) and Cassette (3,990 yen) both use Puffcal, and are infinitely customizable depending on the quantity and the different styles that you order.  Puffcal removes the weight and messiness factor from wall mounted vegetation, helping you to create your own green sanctuary within the confines of your home.

midorie frame green midorie cassette single

Midorie also recently launched a design contest, in which participants were asked to come up interior or product designs utilizing the Midorie products. Judges include the notable architect Kengo Kuma (who coincidentally seems to be making numerous appearances on this site recently)and the results should be interesting. I’ll be on the lookout for them sometime towards December.

midorie design contest


October 20, 2009   1 Comment

Wa-So Design | 和想

The 2nd company competing in the “we’ll help you greenify” space is Wa-So, a uniquely Japanese company that specializes in greenifying your home, garden, shop, or pretty much any space you like, while maintaining – or in some cases, adding – Japanese aesthetics and sensibilities. Based out of Osaka, Wa-So offers more personalized services than GreenFortune, as they sit down with you to come up with a plan that fits your needs. Then they oversee everything from blueprints to construction (if needed) and installation. Below are some recently completed works from their portfolio.

wa-so design (2)

wa-so design (3)

wa-so design


October 19, 2009   4 Comments

GreenFortune Streamgardens & Greenwalls

So last Thursday was blog action day in which you had over 13,000 blogs posting topics on climate change and basically anything eco-related. Our mission here at Spoon & Tamago has nothing to do with green design – or anything green for that matter – but  we are partial to the cause so I thought I would quietly share my 2 cents by discussing some companies in Japan who are in the “we’ll help you greenify” business.

greenfortune streamgarden
Greenfortune’s streamgarden

Perhaps the first company that comes to mind is the internationally focused GreenFortune, who has an active Japan group. Based out of Kobe City, the company has 2 flagship products. First to launch was the Streamgarden, which provided residential clients with an easy, low-maintenance garden inside their homes. The 2nd product that they launched was the Greenwall, which was a primarily large-scale installation within a commercial space.  Inhabitat wrote them up a while back if you are interested in learning more. Below is an interior and exterior shot of NINE, a boutique shop in Aoyama, the was completed over the summer of 2009.

greenfortune NINE aoyama interior

greenfortune NINE aoyama exterior

Their office in Kobe also does a nice job of showcasing their work.

greenfortune RoomKit Osaka

October 19, 2009   5 Comments

Bunpei Yorifuji | KIT25 at @btf

Illustrator Bunpei Yorifuji – mastermind of these hilarious public service ads of the Tokyo Metro – is holding his first solo exhibition at the gallery @btf. The show spans the last 10 years or so since Yorifuji established his own design office, presenting a strong body of work that hinges on the comical, both in the stylistic sense and in content. Here are some shots of the exhibition, courtesy of @btf.

bunpei yorifuji btf (2)

bunpei yorifuji btf (3)

bunpei yorifuji btf (4)

Bunpei Yorifuji Mottainai Logo

October 15, 2009   Comments Off

Kanayama Community Center by Kengo Kuma

Architect Kengo Kuma recently updated his website with a new structure in Oota City of Gunma Prefecture. The Kanayama Community Center, which opened last summer, offers classes and counseling guidance to residents and will also house a museum.

kengo kuma architects ota community center (4)

One of the earmarks of the structure is the unique façade, which was modeled after the stone wall that protected Kanayama Castle – a landmark site of the region – from numerous invasions during the 1570s and 1580s. The large entrance helps neutralize the protectionist feel projected by the walls. The geometric pattern is also reminiscent of family crests such as the Mitsuuroko, the crest of the Hojo Clan, who actually took ownership of the castle in the late 1500s.

The large entrance helps neutralize the protectionist feel projected by the walls.

kengo kuma architects ota community center (3)

kengo kuma architects ota community center (2)

kengo kuma architects ota community center

kengo kuma architects ota community center (5)


October 14, 2009   2 Comments

meanwhile over on inhabitots…


I wrote up a post on the Yu Watanabe x Hiromatsu Furniture line. In an interview the representative discussed an interesting initiative in which they recycle all of their scraps into these wonderfully tactile SONO Beans. They also divulged an exciting new product, SONO Clay, which is essentially potters clay made out of sawdust. Read the full story HERE.


October 13, 2009   6 Comments