japanese art, design and culture

Posts from — May 2011

Tiffany supports LOVE & HOPE

Love & Hope by Leslie Kee

Singapore-born photographer Leslie Kee, who has called Japan a “second home” shooting high fashion editorials in Asia since the late 90′s, recently teamed up with Tiffany & Co. Japan to create “Love & Hope.” The photobook features 252 pages of 200 female celebrity portraits from 32 different countries; Lady GaGa, Jennifer Lopez, Naomi Campbell, Devon Aoki to name a few. Leslie Kee’s photographs, featured in the book, can be seen prior to the book’s release in an exhibit at the Omotesando Hills Main Building, B3F Space O (4-12-10 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo) from May 27th through the 31st. Admission is free.

The book will be released on June 1st for 5,250 yen at Leslie Kee’s exhibit in Omotesando Hills, at AOYAMA Francfranc and via Amazon.co.jp. There are two versions of the cover featuring Ayumi Hamasaki, prominent J-pop singer, with the rest of the book’s content being the same. All proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to the Japanese Red Cross to help the disaster relief efforts in the Tohoku region of Japan.

Source: Tiffany & Co. Japan | @lesliekeesuper on Twitter

May 23, 2011   Comments Off

Mountain Men Action Figure Set: Marx, Mao, Lenin and Thoreau.

What you see below are anatomically correct action figures scaled down to 1:22.5 cm. They were produced by Mountain Research in collaboration with GELCHOP, a design-duo who have made a name for themselves by bringing adult-level quality to childish ideas. And who better to remove this subject matter from their respective historical context than children? I love the idea of handing these toys over to a group of kids who are free of all preconceived notions associated with these figures.

Adorned in and equipped with the most recent collection, a product lineup entitled “little summer camp,” you have Karl Marx – arms crossed – pondering his current predicament. Then there is Chairman Mao who hasn’t even begun hiking but already trying to hitchhike. Lenin has his walking stick and is ready to go. Leading them all into the forest is perhaps the only person who could arguably belong in the setting, Thoreau.

I’m going to geek-out a bit here but Mountain Research is owned by Setsumasa Kobayashi, whose weekend getaway we profiled on the site back in 2009. Their out-doorsy cabin is actually the site where they test a lot of their camping gear and other products they sell. Which makes me wonder if this is where the crazy action figure set was conceived. Dwell recently paid them a visit and you can see more pictures of the awesome cabin there as well.

Source: colossal | mountain research



May 23, 2011   2 Comments

Nest by UID Architects

photos by Hiroshi Ueda | click to enlarge

The Hiroshima-based UID Architects recently shared with us some of their recent projects. One of the more striking homes I have seen recently is Nest, a single-family residence in Onomichi City, constructed at the foot of a mountain. If you’ll recall some of their older projects we’ve showcased, such as this rad dentist office, you’ll know that the architects have a penchant for bringing the outdoors, in. And I mean that in a literal sense.

Aptly titled “Nest,” the home – in its interconnectedness and open layout – projects a maternal presence upon its inhabitants, whom happen to be 3 very close women; a mother and her two daughters. The structure, completed late last year, consists of a small entrance on the ground, that expands outward into the forest. Much in the same way that a birds nest incorporates the branches that surround it, the home itself appears to have been placed right on top of a tree.

Source: UID Architects’ weblog

May 20, 2011   Comments Off

Beautiful Storage the Casa Brutus way

Last week I came across the latest Casa Brutus magazine which had the most striking staircase on its cover. I grabbed what I could find on their website, which obviously wasn’t enough to satisfy my curiosity. Luckily one of my readers in Japan, Ruth Thomas, saw my post and was kind enough to mail me a copy!

Below are some of my favorite tips they give out in the issue on space saving and storage. But I don’t want to undermine the fabulous work of the editors at Casa Brutus. If you like what you see, go out and buy the magazine (amazon jp ships overseas).

Tip #1
Use shelving to support your home

all images courtesy Casa Brutus | click to enlarge

Tip #2
Make your home a storage box

Tip #3
Decide on a place for everything

Tip #4
Use shelves to gently compartmentalize

Tip #5
Raise floors to create new sub-floor storage


Tip #6 (last but certainly not least)
Use stairs to their fullest potential. This project was implemented in a home called Azuki Saichu. It’s used to store the owner’s extensive collection of pottery.

(Ruth is the proprietor of Toringa Projects, an interior design and consulting company in Japan. And this weekend she will also become the proud owner of eunoia, a new design store in Kamakura. Congrats Ruth, and thanks!)


May 19, 2011   Comments Off

OpenJapan: call for entries

click images to enlarge

Are you an architect or designer with an idea to help the affected people in Tohoku, Japan? Then get in touch with OpenSimSim, the open source architecture network based in Berlin. They are organizing an 72-hour crowd-sourced work-sprint to create a sustainable project for Japan. The sprint will kick-off on June 10 with a six-hour work session in Kyoto. The results will then be passed on to 11 cities worldwide, by order of timezone.

If you are interested, or want to learn more, head to their blog. I think it’s an amazing idea! Sort of like a contemporary, architectural spin on the surrealists’ exquisite corpse (except hopefully not as surreal)!

May 19, 2011   2 Comments

Herman Miller Aeron chair x Makoto Azuma

Looking for a way to spruce up the office? Japanese botanic artist Makoto Azuma has collaborated with furniture designer Herman Miller to create a greenified version of his iconic Aeron chair. The chair will be on display this summer at the Herman Miller store in Marunouchi, which just opened earlier this year.

In addition to their standard line-up of products, the Marunouchi store is also know for their one-of-a-kind collaborations with Japanese designers. See more images here.


Source: Makoto Azuma blog

May 18, 2011   1 Comment

O Watch for Issey Miyake

“The concept is ‘Shape of Water – Transparent Time.’”
- Yoshioka Tokujin

The name “O” is derived from “eau;” French for water. Taking visual cues from his optical bench “Waterfall,” Tokujin Yoshioka designed this watch for Issey Miyake, continuing his long-lasting collaboration with his mentor. The watch should be available in July (for 16,800 yen) when there will be a special model celebrating the 10th anniversary of Issey Miyake watch project.

I would love to have this time piece!

TO is another watch designed by Tokujin for Issey Miyake.

source: SII press release

May 17, 2011   Comments Off

tha office designed by A-study

photos by yasushi nagai | click images to enlarge

We’ve been giving Yugo Nakamura of tha a lot of attention recently (you have to admit, he’s on a roll) so it’s only fitting that we showcase where all the magic happens. The new office was completed late last year under the direction of Yoshihiro Saitoh of A-study. It’s odd because I always imagined their offices would be characterized by sleek white walls, stainless steel chairs and the occasional pop of bright color prints on the wall. So you can imagine my surprise when I first came across  these images.

But as I looked closer, it began to make more sense. The massive walls began to remind me of towering databases processing information in the background. Much like the way our computer screens hide the seemingly infinitesimal data and code that is the web, the vast walls of the office contain virtually hidden doors that open into separate meeting rooms. Everything from the all-natural wooden tables and chairs are simple but contain memorable details. It’s actually a very nice space for the tech-savvy folk at tha.

All the furniture was custom-designed to fit the space, which includes a gallery space for digital art. I love those chairs!!

source: architecturephoto | A-study

May 17, 2011   Comments Off

iida INFOBAR A01 by Naoto Fukasawa and Yugo Nakamura

It was by mere coincidence that yesterday I wrote about iida because that night I found myself transfixed by one of the more exciting product launches of the year. And it was being made by iida. The announcement was concerning the release of INFOBAR A01, a new android smartphone re-imagined by its original designer and one of Japan’s forerunners of industrial design, Naoto Fukasawa.

It also comes equipped with a brand-spanking-new interface designed by one of Japan’s forerunners of UI design Yugo Nakamura. It was after watching the below video that I was prompted to ask the bold question, “Did Japan just take back the smartphone from Apple?”

In less than 24 hours the new INFOBAR has already gotten a thumbs up from designers across the globe including Khoi Vinh and Niklas Lindstrom from New York, and Paul Baron and Akihiro Kumagaya from Japan.

Here is a short history of how INFOBAR has evolved:

2001.5 info.bar (concept)

2003.10 INFOBAR

2007.9 INFOBAR 2

2011.5 INFOBAR A01

Source: twitter | iida

May 17, 2011   3 Comments

Match Striker by Ayumi Horie

Hudson Valley-based potter Ayumi Horie has created an adorable video to accompany her series of ceramic match holders that also functions as a striker.

Ayumi is also one of the founders of Handmade for Japan, a charity auction site that has raised close to $90,000 (wow!) to benefit the victims of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.

source: newsletter

May 16, 2011   Comments Off