japanese art, design and culture

Posts from — August 2011

A Beacon of Rebirth Poster Project

First came shock,  then came loss and finally, a question: “I wonder what I could do.” Simply put, that was the process that moved an advertising professional from Morioka and a photographer from Tokyo to create A Beacon of Rebirth Poster Project.

The posters are comprised of a simple layout: a photograph of local residents, accompanied by short text. The posters a grouped by the location the photos were shot: Otsuchi, Kamaishi and Oofunato. What’s interesting – and what I particularly like about the series – is that they don’t solicit pity. Instead, the locals are portrayed as resilient and tenacious.

The posters have been on display at various sites in Morioka, Fukushima, Tokyo, as well as evacuation centers. You can purchase the posters (3,675 yen – 3,990 yen) via an order form in the Japanese version of the website. The English version doesn’t yet appear to have that functionality.

Source: twitter | fukkou-noroshi

August 31, 2011   Comments Off

Square Bookshelves by Nendo

click images to enlarge

I love these new bookshelves designed by Nendo. They’re the latest addition to their dancing squares collection – an investigation into the possibilities of square planes – which they released earlier this year. Below are 2 different arrangements but the shelves can be infinitely customized to adhere to the orientation of almost any room, providing a dynamic visual effect. The only thing that’s missing are some books!

“one part of the bookshelf is frozen in a tumbling cascade, creating variety in the way books can be stacked.” – nendo

check out all our stories on Nendo.

source: designboom | nendo

August 31, 2011   1 Comment

Your Clock is Toast

regular-size toast clock | click images to enlarge

I love waking up to toast. But what if, in the most literal sense possible, you were actually woken up by toast. Yea, that would be pretty cool. Well now it’s possible, with this new toast clock by oh-real. It comes in regular size (3,150 yen) and mega size (5,800 yen). Awesome.


oh-real is a Japanese company that just launched earlier this year (their website doesn’t even function yet). We all know that Japan has perfected fake display food, but I can’t get over how real that toast looks (and how hungry it’s making me).


source: walkerplus | real gift |
hat-tip to Japan Pulse (I stole their twitter status for the title of this post)

August 30, 2011   Comments Off

Yasuyuki Okamura | Etiquette

Over the weekend the self-proclaimed singer-songwriter-dancer Yasuyuki Okamura launched a new teaser website in conjunction with a new double-album, “Etiquette (purple jacket) and (pink jacket)” that was released last week. The website features the artist performing  a song with seemingly nonsensical lyrics (pen pen pen pen pen pen pen, grass!) as his whole body – coughs, convulsions, mouse taps and all – appear to give birth to a wide range tumultuous yet addicting sounds.

The musician can also be seen writing down his lyrics in, amongst other places, his twitter account. And if you visit said twitter account, lo-and-behold, there are the same lyrics. Fun!

I’m sure that I’m not the only one who noticed the ffffound coffee mug. Well that’s because the website was created by none other than the founder of ffffound, Yugo Nakamura and his interface design firm tha. (read all our stories on Yugo Nakamura)

Other throwbacks you may have sighted in the video include a volume of Le Corbusier : Complete Works, John Maeda’s Maeda @ Media, Oomori Shozo’s Shin Shikaku Shinron and Jeffrey E.F. Friedl’s Mastering Regular Expressions.

Okamura has had a rough couple of years. After being arrested not once, but three times over the past 10 years (he was released last February) for drug possession, he is attempting a comeback. But judging by his latest record sales, fans still adore him. In just 1 week both his albums sold roughly 10,000 copies, catapulting them to the 1st and 2nd place in indie charts for a brief period of time, after settling in the low teens.

source: twitter

August 30, 2011   Comments Off

Wall Animal-Escape by Yuko Hara

We have a very active 2-year old and 4-year old and – in a sentiment much akin to that mirrored in Toy Story – we sometimes feel bad for the toys that are subject to their hyperactive energy.  This is sort of how Yuko Hara, the self-proclaimed stuffed animal artist, was inspired to create her Wall Animal-Escape series. The series of 3, an elephant, a rabbit and a deer, depict each animal in a desperate attempt to escape, with just their cute, vulnerable little butt exposed.

I love how, even for me, it raised so many questions, like: “are they stuck?” and “what’s on the other side?” But maybe I just like looking at animal butts.

The pieces are all hand made by the artist and prices range between 12,600 (for the rabbit) and 26,250 (for the elephant). They are available from goodevening, a store that collaborates with artist to create unique children’s toys.

source: goodevening

August 29, 2011   1 Comment

Vehicle for Children by Masahiro Minami

click images to enlarge

Back in 2009 when designer Masahiro Minami created the fantastic “Bears on Melting Ice” rocker for his daughter, he also promised himself that we would create an equally distinguished piece for his son as well. But as we all know, especially if you are a parent, time is a brisk wind. Luckily, for the designer, he set to work before it was too late and, over the past year, designed this exquisite wooden vehicle for his son.

One of the most significant considerations in designing the piece was that, at some point, toys such as these eventually become a nuisance, or simply end up occupying more space than they are worth. Minami proposed a simple solution that integrated a pull-out drawer attached to a tail-like rope so that the vehicle could also be used for storage. I also love how it comes equipped with a very serious pair of googly eyes!

source: Masahiro Minami’s blog

August 26, 2011   2 Comments

Picture Furniture by Ikuo Kubota

photos © Ikuo Kubota | click to enlarge

Ikuo Kubota is a photographer who, like many, got his start in commercial photography working for several fashion and lifestyle magazines.  Inspired by the timelessness of  Erik Satie’s Musique d’ameublement (furniture music), in 2009 Kubota set to work creating a body of artwork that could infinitely be enjoyed without growing old. The result was “Picture Furniture,” a departure from landscape and nature photography and, instead, a white-on-white chromatic sensation of dilution that re-imagines the mundane.

The upcoming solo exhibition will consist of roughly 30 gelatin silver prints and will open on Sept. 3 at Gallery Speak For.


Picture Furniture
2011.09.02 – 09.14
11:00 – 20:00 (last day closes at 18:00)

Source: hitspaper | Ikuo Kubota’s blog | gallery speak for

August 25, 2011   Comments Off

Wire Works by Masao Seki

“Round Town” | click images to enlarge

Five From The Ground is a gorgeous little antiques shop located in Kamakura. From old coffee mills and french blackboards to 8 mm film reels and toys, they have everything your vintage heart could desire. Perusing through their equally drool-worthy online shop reveals many treasures, one of them being these dainty wire sculptures by Masao Seki. So adorable. I want them all!


Flower A


A square. That is all. What else do you need?

This minimal picture stand is fantastic.

There’s something painfully nostalgic to me about these electric cables.

Source: twitter

August 25, 2011   3 Comments

Ichimi and Shichimi by Akira Mabuchi

click images to enlarge

Industrial designer Akira Mabuchi’s latest work are these pepper shakers (1,050 yen) shaped like the character for 1 (ichi) and 7 (shichi).  Beginning with a circular base, the shapes rise up from the ground to form the characters. The shakers are intended to be used for Ichimi and Shichimi -  2 different types of pepper. Ichimi is just a single type of pepper whereas shichimi is, naturally, a blend of 7 different ingredients.

It was actually these pepper shakers that inspired the previous post on Taku Satoh’s 3D hiragana. See the resemblance?

Mabuchi even created this adorable “Onigiri” soy sauce dish (1,785 yen) which, with a douse of the dark condiment, takes on the look of a riceball wrapped in seaweed.

source: plot | akiramabuchi.com



August 24, 2011   1 Comment

Taku Satoh | Two Experiments Exhibition

click images to enlarge

Designer Taku Satoh recreated a 3-dimensional version of the Japanese alphabet by stacking numerous layers of paper. Apparently it was in response to an overall shift in emphasis towards contour, rather than essence – an unfortunate consequence of the pervasiveness of digital media.

I love how each hiragana is enclosed in their own individual wooden box, elevating them to a higher status. The execution of the exhibition is also breathtaking. I wish I could have seen it in person.

Taku Satoh | Two Experiments Exhibition
Gallery Kobo
2009.02.02  – 02.14

(I know it’s old work, but the designer just recently updated his website with a treasure trove of new work. I’ve been slowly going through it all. So much cool stuff!)

For other experimental hiragana, check out Hideo Kanbara’s 3D hiragana!

source: Taku Satoh’s website

August 23, 2011   Comments Off