japanese art, design and culture

Posts from — April 2011

Paper Tools exhibition | kaminodougu

Kaminokousakuji, also known as the gods of paper (to me anyway), are putting on their fourth exhibition. Having been postponed due to the earthquake, the way many things were, the show successfully opened 2 days ago. Being showcased are some fantastic works made out of paper, by some of my favorite designers. As with each year, the show runs with a certain theme. This year: Adhesives.

“Tapehook” by Torafu, modeled after the way tape curls.

a DIY “Torinosu” (bird’s nest) basket by Kaichiro Yamada

an “adhesive planter” by Shin Azumi

a humorous “Mummy” postcard by Sadahiro Kazunari


Paper Tools exhibition (kaminodougu)
Axis Building (Gmap): Living Motif – B1F
4.27.2011 – 5.22

April 29, 2011   Comments Off

Wire Ware | ±0

round wire basket | 1575 yen

Enigmatic Japanese designer Naoto Fukasawa’s ±0 (plus minus zero) brand has just released their latest design, a series of vintage-inspired wire tableware for housing basic items like fruit, eggs and toast. They are made from steel and come in a black matte-finish. Adorable!

You can request to purchase them from white rabbit express

egg carton | 1575 yen                       egg cup | 1050 yen

toast stand | 1575 yen

Is it just me or does that toast look incredibly appetizing?

via remodelista


April 28, 2011   1 Comment

Kyushu Shinkansen Commercial

On March 12 – one day after the tragic earthquake – on the island of Kyushu a new shinkansen, or bullet train, that vertically connected the entire island opened on schedule. However, deemed overly cheery and happy, a TV commercial, along with all other print advertisements, were pulled, only to recently resurface. The ad spot immediately went viral, proving that this was exactly what we needed: 15,000 people doing a jubilant “human wave” across an entire island! The catchy tune that accompanies the footage is a song called BOOM, performed by Maia Hirasawa, a half-Swedish, half-Japanese singer/songwriter.

Watch carefully as there is something here for everyone that will crack a laugh or a tear: firefighters doing chin-ups @ 00:29; Power Rangers @ 1:04; newlyweds @ 01:25; pro-wrestlers @ 02:29.

Here is the official website that is not only a treasure trove of other related media, but also details how the ad campaign came together. What was revealing to me was that it was unrehearsed and unscripted. Basically it was an open invitation to anyone who wanted to come out and wave at the train. Bravo!

via Tokyo Mango

April 28, 2011   1 Comment

ideaco wrap holder

click images to enlarge

I love this new product idea from Japanese design label ideaco. It’s a slick, minimal saran wrap holder that replaces that eye-sore packaging it comes in. It also has a magnetized edge that sticks to your refrigerator and can be used right from its location, or removed. It comes in 2 sizes – 22cm (1,575 yen) and 30cm (1,890 yen) – and I believe the larger size can accommodate U.S. sizes (but forget about the costco size).

You can request to purchase it from white rabbit express

Funny story: we know some friends who, of all the things they could bring from Japan, insist on bringing back saran wrap because it’s just so much better than the uncutable stuff you find here.



April 27, 2011   Comments Off

yumaki toothbrush


Yumaki was founded by a Scandinavian Product Design company and a Japanese Oral Care factory, who have been working together to bring design, functionality and personality to an everyday item that is often overlooked: the toothbrush. The current collection comes in 18 different varieties and new models and collections are coming out ever season.


The Japanese manufacturers of the product has more than 100 years of experience in producing professional oral hygiene products. The brand’s “not-just-looks” design and knowledge of oral care is apparent on their website that gives oral care tips and offers yearly  subscriptions – Yumaki will send you a new tooth brush every 3 months as recommend by professional dentists.


Toothbrushes are $10 each and 1 year subscription starts at $35.
Learn more about these functional and stylish toothbrushes at the yumaki website.

April 27, 2011   1 Comment

Fish-shaped wooden spatula for kids

A tweet from earlier this morning got me thinking about how to make food and cooking more kid-friendly. I did a little digging through my archives and came acorss sakana kibera, a wooden spatula shaped like a fish. It was designed by Rie Isono in 2008 and is handcrafted by Hiroyuki Inoue. Adorable.

It’s available in 3 different types of wood and retails for 2,625 yen. You can request to purchase it from White Rabbit Express Express.



April 25, 2011   Comments Off

inside out by Takeshi Hosaka Architects

Usually when it rains inside a home the reaction is distress, followed by anger and then lawsuits. However, not for Takeshi Hosaka Architects, who’s latest home, “inside out,” was designed for a couple and their two cats, all who wanted the freedom to go in and out while always remaining within their home. The home’s bedrooms and bathrooms are surrounded by a membrane of carefully designed openings that allow wind, light, sun and rain to enter into that section of the home.

As it turns out, Takeshi Hosaka Architects knows a thing or two about bringing the outdoors, in. If you don’t believe me check out the other posts we’ve done on the architect. He is clearly very interested in the relationship between habitat and environment.



April 25, 2011   1 Comment

Bottle Flower series by Makoto Azuma

This is our 2nd environment-related post to commemorate Earth Day.

Floral artist Makoto Azuma has been challenging our relationship with plants for quite some time now. It’s not a commonly discussed topic, especially amongst floral designers who make their living by often ending the life of plants in order to make a pretty display.  But Azuma, whether he is creating an installation of flowers to be stomped on during a performance, or removing an age-old bonsai from its soil and hanging it in mid-air, approaches the subject matter head on.

In his latest series Bottle Flower, which he has been releasing over the last few days, Azuma creates bold yet somewhat disturbing pieces comprised of flowers stuffed into glass bottles like sardines and then filled with water. The flowers, which are shockingly beautiful but also clearly dead, invoke images of laboratory experiments in which body parts are preserved in some sort of embalming fluid. The existential project, which finds beauty in both the life and the death of his material, is certainly an appropriate one for earth day.

click images to enlarge

April 22, 2011   1 Comment

Oritsunagumono by Takayuki Hori

click images to enlarge

Since today is Earth Day, we have 2 environment-related posts lined up, both with radically different concepts and means of communicating them.

We first came across Takayuki Hori’s work when reviewing the Mitsubishi Chemical Junior Designer Awards – an award show that invites student designers to submit their senior thesis works to be judged by a group of industry professionals. Takayuki Hori’s 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.

What’s has changed since our original post back in January is that Christopher from Colossal went and got in touch with the designer and obtained some previously unavailable images, which he recently shared.

April 22, 2011   2 Comments

Casaurus by Koichiro Hoshino

click images to enlarge | courtesy

I have a soft spot for cool, creative kids stuff, which is why I probably kept coming back to this amazing project by student designer Koichiro Hoshino. He created a dinosaur-themed bookshelf/playground for his senior thesis exhibition at Tokyo University of the Arts. At the time I couldn’t find any information about the designer. But after conducting another search it was revealed that he had established a website quite recently with more images. Jackpot!

Look how much fun those children are having! My kids would simply burst if they saw that thing.

April 21, 2011   2 Comments