japanese art, design and culture
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Posts from — January 2011

House I by Takagi Yoshichika Architects


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Takagi Yoshichika of Sekkei-sha (you may remember him) has unveiled his latest project: House I in Akita prefecture of northern Japan.

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January 31, 2011   2 Comments

FrancFranc Shanghai by Yasumichi Morita

Yasumichi Morita, of the interior design firm Glamorous, has completed his latest project: a new FrancFranc shop in Shanghai. The new Xintiandi Shop, which marks the 3rd Shanghai location for the Japanese modern lifestyle retailer, opened on December 3rd, 2010. The company has been ramping up their presence in Asia. All 3 of their Shanghai locations were completed in 2010 with a flagship location in the works for 2014.

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January 28, 2011   Comments Off

Small House by Unemori Architects


photos courtesy unemori architects

The recently completed Small House by Unemori Architects is built on a tiny piece of land in Tokyo – just 34 square meters (365 sq ft). Interestingly, the architects opted for an unconventional technique. They allocated a generous portion of the land – roughly 50%! – to empty space and constructed the house on the other 50%. Crazy? Perhaps. But by incorporating large door-like windows into the façade, the architects managed to allow for tons of sunlight and fresh air to circulate throughout what could have been a very dark, dreary space.

Source: Unemori Architects website

January 27, 2011   Comments Off

House in Hidaka by Suppose Design Office


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Makoto Tanijiri of Suppose Design Office has released images of his latest work, completed in December of 2010, of a private residence in Saitama, Japan.

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January 26, 2011   Comments Off

2010 Mitsubishi Chemical Junior Designer Award | Jun Ebata

Continuing our coverage of the Mitsubishi Chemical Junior Designer Awards

Another- and perhaps the last – award I felt was worth mentioning was Jun Ebata’s stool, “Tension,” which won the Kenji Ekuan award. Side note: Kenji Ekuan, one of the judges of the award show, (b. 1929) is an award-winning designer known for such ubiquitous designs like Kikkoman’s soy sauce dispenser.

Appropriately named, “Tension” incorporates architectural elements, such as brace structures and beam strings, to achieve ⌀ 6mm  legs and an overall precarious look and feel. I’ve always been stunned by architectural mechanisms so it’s nice to see them beautifully implemented in household furniture.

Jun Ebata is a design student at the Shizuoka University of Art and Culture. His work was last seen during the 2008 Kokuyo Design Awards where “kezurinbo,” a set of adorable pencils that change facial expressions as you sharpen them, won him considerable attention.

Related:

2010 Mitsubishi Chemical Junior Designer Award | Jun Ebata
Continuing our coverage of the Mitsubishi Chemical Junior Designer Awards…Another- and perhaps the last – award I felt was worth mentioning was Jun Ebata’s stool, “Tension,” which won the Kenji Ekuan award.Kenji Ekuan, one of the judges of the award show, (b. 1929) is an award-winning designer known for such ubiquitous designs like Kikkoman’s soy sauce dispenser.

Appropriately named, “Tension” incorporates architectural elements, such as brace structures and beam strings, to achieve ⌀ 6mm  legs and an overall precarious look and feel. I’ve always been stunned by architectural mechanisms so it’s nice to see them beautifully implemented in household furniture.

http://www.gk-design.co.jp/english.html

http://www.moma.org/collection/artist.php?artist_id=27007

January 25, 2011   Comments Off

2010 Mitsubishi Chemical Junior Designer Award | Takuya Motte

Continuing our coverage of the 2010 Mitsubishi Chemical Junior Designer Awards…

The award for honorable mention was like an unexpected visit from an old friend. We featured Takuya Motte’s neck camera, “Vision” during our coverage of student work at Kobe Design University about 1 year ago.  So it was nice to see the piece progress this far!

The neck camera, which was co-developed with the University, is a working model. You drape the camera strap around your neck and images are recorded by the simple act of creating a picture frame using your hands like this (Photo: Oliver Strewe/Lonely Planet). Not only is it a beautiful looking product, it poses some interesting questions about our relationship with photography, as well as gadgets, for that matter.

In his seminal essay on photography, John Berger writes:

Photographs bear witness to a human choice being exercised in a given situation. A photograph is a result of the photographer’s decision that it is worth recording that this particular event or this particular object has been seen. … At its simplest the [photograph], decoded, means: I have decided that seeing this is worth recording.

Although we don’t always look at a photograph and think, “ah, human choice,” Takuya Motte’s neck camera has the potential for making us far more aware of our actions as photographers. Not only will we be more conscious of the act of recording, but we will take pleasure in the process, our surroundings and our current conditions far more than we ever have.

It’s interface is also worth considering as it is a significant step forward in blurring the lines between human and mechanic relations. What was once a very mechanical process can now be accomplished through a very natural human gesture. Although I imagine it would be quite awkward at first, I would love to try it out to see what it’s actually like. I have a strong feeling this is not the last we will see of the “Vision” neck camera.


January 24, 2011   Comments Off

2010 Mitsubishi Chemical Junior Designer Award | Takayuki Hori

Here is a look at some of the winners of the 2010 Mitsubishi Chemical Junior Designer Award, which were unveiled late in 2010. Beginning in 2006 – and sponsored by Mitsubishi Chemical – the award show invites student designers to submit their senior thesis works to be judged by a group of industry professionals including artists, designers, professors and critics.


First up is Takayuki Hori, whose work Oritsunagumono (things folded and connected) was awarded 1st prize. Hori embeds the ancient craft of origami with an environmental theme by using the skeleton of a sea turtle, waterfowl and 6 other endangered animals printed on a translucent material.

The material is then folded into the shape of the animal. The stark and eerily poignant origami prints reminds us that, much like the way the craft has been passed down from generation to generation, these animals that have accompanied us for thousands of years now face extinction.

Takayuki Hori is a graduate student of the Kanazawa College of Art, completing his MFA studies in visual communication design.

January 24, 2011   2 Comments

Creative mikan peeling

During our stay in Japan over the holidays we had the pleasure of dining on Japan’s favorite wintertime fruit, the mikan. In the States I’ve seen them referred to as satsuma oranges or mandarin oranges. And on a number of occasions I’ve been fooled by the variant clementine, which, by no means, is comparable to the sweet, juicy, thin-skinned and seedless original, which has quenched a many throat during the long and dry Tokyo winter.

Together with the kids we devoured a dozen a day. And when you peel 12 mikans a day, it’s only a matter of time, considering the natural progression of things, before people get tired of peeling mikans the same old way. This year a confluence of events, which may or may not have had anything to do with the publication of this book, caused a stir amongst the nation and suddenly it was all the rage to peel mikans in a creative fashion. You could not turn on the TV in the morning without seeing a talk show host sporting a mikan wristwatch.

Here are some examples:

The Wristwatch

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January 19, 2011   2 Comments

Trick by Sakura Adachi

I love this multi-purpose bookcase which, by removing the two chairs at each end, doubles as a table. Although I would find the most use for it somewhere in the middle; housing books while also functioning as a table and chairs.

It was designed by Milan-based Japanese designer Sakura Adachi and was shown during Milan Design Week 2010. It was designed for Italian furniture company Campeggi, whom Adachi has worked with on more than one occasion.

The “Trick” bookcase is a continuation of Adachi’s work in exploring creative and unconventional book shelving, such as “Cave,”  which was inspired by her fascination with pigeons and their ability to create their own nooks in virtually any space.

via swissmiss and shoeboxdwelling

January 18, 2011   Comments Off

MR Design – aka Kenjiro Sano – gets a new office

Schemata Architects released a press release today for an office space they designed, titled  MR Design Office.  Although there is no mention of him, I am certain that this is the office of THE Mr Design, also known as Kenjiro Sano (see our 2009 post on the man)

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January 14, 2011   1 Comment