japanese art, design and culture

Posts from — April 2010

Makoto Yamaguchi’s shelf | inspirational image of the day

I’ve been staring at this shelf for a couple days now and finally decided it would be appropriate to end the week with it. That way I can go online and see it at the top of my blog all through the weekend.

photographs by Ken Shimizu

Designed by architect Makoto Yamaguchi in 2009, the shelf possesses beautiful curvature – a rarity when discussing shelving -  and an extreme minimalist aesthetic.


April 16, 2010   3 Comments

One Roof Apartment by Akihisa Hirata and Yoshihiko Yoshihara

Japanese architect Akihisa Hirata, in collaboration with Yoshihiko Yoshihara architects – and inspired by what one can only describe as a person spreading their legs – recently completed One Roof Apartment.

We saw a YouTube clip of the work-in-progress back in March of 2010 but now, courtesy of the architect himself, we have a few images.

April 16, 2010   4 Comments

Where is architecture? Seven Installations by Japanese Architects

click to enlarge

On April 29th 2010 the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo (MOMAT) will present Where is architecture? Seven Installations by Japanese Architects. The show, which runs for 88 days until August 8th and will be the museums first definitive look at Japanese architecture and where it stands today.

To better understand the profound recognition that Japanese architecture has received from abroad, the curators have selected 7 architects to present new installations based on previous work. The show will then proceed to examine the logic, technique, and aesthetics that define Japanese architecture in an attempt to understand “where and in what form it arises.”

In order to draw audiences in and get them involved the museum has set up a special website, designed by  Takashi Kamada of spf design, which provides sneak-peaks into each architect’s work-in-progress. Below are screenshots of each.

Toyo Ito will present an installation using the same spatial structure he proposed for the Deichman Main Library Competition in Oslo, Norway. Although – earlier this month – a consortium of Norwegian architects were selected for the design, Ito’s use of 3 types of polyhedrons will undoubtedly create a dynamic space.

Ryoji Suzuki will unveil a large-scale model of a residence that is near completion. But the architect will take his model a step further by altering it using “dub.” Dub can refer to “an instrumental subgenre of reggae,” or “a separate genre of music that involves revisions of existing songs.” I am assuming both of these definitions will apply.

Hiroshi Naito will present an installation consisting of 200 red lasers. Enough said.

Atelier Bow Wow, inspired by the outdoor sculptures of Barbara Hepworth, will completely redesign the museum’s front lawn to function as a summer house.

Hiroshi Kikuchi’s installation will include motion-linked video that connects his space in the museum to previous work he has created.

Ryuji Nakamura – whose intricate work prompted him to solicit assistance via his website -  will create a large scale structure using his hechima concept.

Hideyuki Nakayama – a protégé of Toyo Ito – will present a reformatted version of “Door on the Prairie,” a proposal which he won to design a tea house in Hokkaido.

April 15, 2010   Comments Off

Canon at Milan Design Week 2010 | NEOREAL

click images to enlarge

For the past 2 years Canon has been flexing their digital imaging muscle during Milan Design Week. Yesterday they presented Neoreal (part 3), an installation titled “prism liquid,” in which numerous projectors cast moving images over a spider-like architectural structure. The multi-sided structure provides multiple canvases for the hallucinatory motion video to move through as it slips and slides off different surfaces.

They collaborated with video artist Takahashi Kyota, architect Akihisa Hirata and designer Hikaru Mori.

The diligent folk over at Canon were kind enough to upload an image gallery and video, immediately after the release…. but the finicky folk running their website directs all my links to their top page. So you are just going to have to go in a and look for it.


April 14, 2010   Comments Off

Honogodai Christ Church School & Nursery by Takeshi Hosaka Architects

Takeshi Hosaka Architects, whose Hoto Fudo – earlier this year – catapulted them into blogosphere fame, has recently completed “Honogodai Christ Church School & Nursery” an educational complex that includes nursery, primary and secondary schooling. Their mission statement is “to provide an environment where everyone from infants to high school seniors can blend into the lushness of forestry.”

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The school is located in Yokohama; a 10-minute bus ride from Konandai Station.

The rationale behind the zig-zaging structure was to preserve and incorporate all the preexisting trees. You can see that some of them have been “swallowed” by the building to create a total of 5 courtyards. The cubic structure, combined with all-glass windows and doors, maintains a significant level of transparency between different rooms.

Check out the fluorescent lighting on the ceiling. It’s in the shape of a cross.

April 13, 2010   6 Comments

new greeting cards from D-Bros

Graphic/product designers D-Bros, whose fruit-shaped note pad Kudamemo has been so popular it prompted them to issue a press release warning consumers about all the counterfeits popping up in “net shops” and “auction sites,” recently designed a new line of stationary. They include these Buranco (swing) mobile cards…

…and these Bloom pop-up cards.


April 13, 2010   5 Comments

Chigo SS 2010 collection for boys

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Chigo, the proprietors of chic wooden toys for kids, recently announced the launch of  Gochi – a new collection of stylish clothing for boys. Their Spring/Summer 2010 collection includes these fun t-shirts (3,990 yen) and other minimal basics. Although not part of the collection, I really like these bicycle print onesies and t-shirts as well (also 3,990 yen).

And how funny are these ‘shrooms made from leftover fabric from all their recent creations? I’ve always thought mushrooms would make awesome baby toys but that little voice from the outside world that keeps my self-assessments in check prevented me from tossing one down from the counter….until now.


April 12, 2010   Comments Off

Japan – The Strange Country

Kenichi Tanaka, a graduating senior from the Aichi Prefectural University of Fine Arts & Music, recently created this info-graphic motion video for his senior thesis. The video, in 10 minutes, provides a statistical overview of, what the author considers, some of the odd  characteristics of Japan.

As evidenced by the YouTube comments, the video is quite controversial – and rightly so – as it ignores comparisons with other countries and sometimes focuses on details that make you wonder if the author is pushing a certain agenda. It was basically begging for all the pedantic nerds of cyberspace to attack it.

But with that said, I have to say I really enjoyed it. It was executed very well and, assuming its audience are people who know nothing about Japan, it seemed to accomplish its goal of getting you interested in the country.

The original Japanese version is available on vimeo.

thanks for the tip kaori-chan!

April 12, 2010   Comments Off

New items from 800 for eats

800 for eats has added some new items to their beautifully designed minimal food lineup. They include, honey and rice. I wrote about them early last year so allow me to lift the paragraph below as my sentiments for the label remain largely unchanged.

I’ve always been a firm believer that first and foremost we eat with our eyes. “800 for eats” is a brand after my own heart. A tie-up between the designshop, self-described food director Fumie Okamura, and graphic designer Shunichi Miki (designer of this award winning mochi packaging – the similarities are quite evident ), 800 for eats emphasizes good design combined with local foods and how they relate to each other.

I would buy all of these. And then, I would eat them.

April 9, 2010   2 Comments

Milan Design Week 2010 | Japanese Design

The Milano Salone, also known as Milan Design Week, kicks off its annual show next week. I’ve always found this show to be a bit frustrating because there is so much going in so many different venues but I have yet to find a cohesive source of information that provides the basics, ie: who, what, where. So I have taken matters into my own hands: here is a roundup of Japanese designers that will be showcasing new work in Milan.

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Who: Tomoko Azumi, head of the UK-based Japanese design firm t.n.a. design
What: FLOE tables for Swarovski’s new interiors venture. Taking their cue from floating ice caps of the arctic, the low tables are embedded with several Swarovski crystals and LED lights.
Where: Triennale di Milano

What: Series of furniture for Zilio A&C
Where: Milan Fairgrounds

What: two lamps, Twiggy Lamp and Little Woods, for Japanese lighting company Maxray
Where: Sfera Showroom
source: t.n.a. April 2010 newsletter

Who: Tokyo-based designer Tokujin Yoshioka
What: Following his paper cloud sofa he designed for Italian brand Moroso in ’09, the designer will present Memory, a crumpled aluminum chair for Moroso once again.
Where: Triennale di Milano
source: dezeen

Who: Tokyo-based design firm Nendo
What: Clear Perfume Bottle; an empty perfume bottle in which the perfume is stored in the cap. A visual interpretation of the invisibility that is fragrance. It will be included in their 1% line of products.

What: line chair; possibly the skinniest. chair. ever.
Where: Galleria Antonia Jannone
source: dezeen

Who: Jun Hashimoto and Tatsuo Yamamoto of the Tokyo-based design unit books.
What: Net Chair by Jun Hashimoto (top), molded out of a  single sheet of stainless steel mesh. Mozzarella Chair (bottom) by Tatsuo Yamamoto, made from woven fabric stretched over a 2mm thick stainless steel frame.
Where: Milan Fairgrounds
source: designboom

Who: Shun Kawakami of Tokyo-based design studio Artless
What: hisomu; new collaborative work between Takashi Kawada and balloon artist Rie Hosokai aka Daisy Balloon. Just speculating, but perhaps it will resemble his previous work (pictured above) he has done with Daisy and Kawada.
Where: giuliano Fujiwara / MILANO Store

Who: Tokyo-based product designer Dan Tomimatsu
What: Yoniji (night rainbow); a new lighting project inspired by the optical phenomenon known as a moon halo.

UPDATE (April 8, 2010)

Who: 12 Japanese designers including Oji Masanori, Papier Labo, Yen design and Proof of Guild
What: Thoughts from Japan; An extension of last year’s For Stockists exhibition as seen through the eyes of Italian handbag designer Luisa Cevese.
Where: Luisa Cevese Redizioni

April 7, 2010   3 Comments