japanese art, design and culture

Posts from — April 2012

Inflatable Air Bonsai

It’s one of contemporary society’s odd twists and turns. For reasons that are beyond my understanding, one way that our human race chooses to celebrate, and in turn, manifest, our carnal pleasures and is by rendering them in inflatable PVC-coated nylon. Whatever turns you on, whether its English pubs, slightly NSFW installation art or Stonehenge, you can bet an inflatable version exists.

Enter graphic design duo Ryohei “Wabi” Kudo and Kazushi “Sabi” Nakanishi of WabiSabi. The two applied the inflatable treatment to one of Japan’s most beloved and revered pastimes: bonsai – the art of growing miniature trees in containers. The “Air Bonsai” comes in black and white, and adds some nice artificiality to any garden. It was recently awarded the JAGDA 2012 award.

Bonsai is actually a recurring theme in the designer’s work. Back in 2005 the two created a bonsai illustration using calligraphy.

Source: JAGDA homepage | wabisabi

April 30, 2012   Comments Off

Layer Drawings by Nobuhiro Nakanishi

crappy photos by spoon & tamago | click to enlarge

Yesterday I went to go see Japanese artist Nobuhiro Nakanishi’s ephemeral installation at Saks Fifth Avenue. “Sunrise 27” was created for the new store opening of fashion label 3.1 phillip lim and consists of 27 translucent screens, suspended in midair. Each screen has a slightly varied print of a sunrise captured above (what appears to be) NYC. It’s a gorgeous piece in that its primary raw materials are light and time, tracing its subject the way a painter captures their seemingly still – yet intrinsically moving – subject.

If you’re not familiar with Nakanishi’s work, here are some of his older works.

better photos courtesy Galerie Kashya Hildebrand and the artist | click to enlarge

“Layer Drawing Sunrise” (2007) | installation view Mori Art Museum

Transparent View (2011) | installation view Aomori Contemporary Art Center

Transparent View (2011) | installation view Aomori Contemporary Art Center

Transparent View (2011) | installation view Aomori Contemporary Art Center

Originally hailing from Fukuoka, Nakanishi is a largely Japan-based artist. After obtaining his M.F.A. in 2002 from Kyoto City University, Nakanishi went on to exhibit his work at galleries in Osaka, Kyoto and Fukuoka. In 2008 his work traveled across seas for the first time, to be exhibited at Galerie Kashya Hildebrand, in Zurich, Switzerland, in a group exhibition curated by artist Kohei Nawa. In 2010 he returned to Hildebrand for a solo show.

“Layer Drawing Forest” (2008)

“Layer Drawing Aomori Sunrise” (2008)

“Ice Cream” (2008)

“Candle” (2010). Installation view at Galerie Kashya Hildebrand

April 26, 2012   2 Comments

House in Senri by Shogo Iwata

photos by Nagaishi Hidehiko | click to enlarge

At the age of 55, Dutch graphic artist M.C. Escher produced a mind-bending lithograph that depicted six stairways with multiple inhabitants going about their business in a world where the normal laws of gravity cease to exist. For the next 60 years “Relativity” went on to inspire everyone from mathematicians and scientists to artists and architects. And despite numerous experimentation, in my mind no one has come closer than Japanese architect Shogo Iwata at creating a real-life equivalent.

House in Senri is an equally mind-bending house split into 3 stories with a total of 8 tiered floors. The result is an ambiguous arrangement of space and hierarchy, that of which Mr. Escher would most-certainly approve.

Originally completed in 2010, the home, located in Osaka, was designed for a family of 3.

Source: architect submission

April 26, 2012   1 Comment

Nao Matsumoto at hpgrp gallery new york

all images courtesy the artist | click to enlarge

The multi-faceted artist, sculptor and furniture designer Nao Matsumoto currently has an exhibition at hpgrp gallery in New York. His show shares the same energy, tension and intensity as his politically charged work, but is an examination of the chaotic and somewhat catastrophic possibilities that exist in the natural world.

A total of 4 new works are on display, all of which are humorously threatening, in their own ironic way. It’s a great show and you can catch it through May 12, 2012.

“Chainsaw Blue,” a plastic sculpture of a Sawfish in which the snout is an actual chainsaw.

Srew you! Who me? In “You/Me,” Matsumoto attaches approximately 40,000 screws on wooden baseboards to spell out the words YOU and ME.

“100″ ant heads individually cast in resin, arranged in a precise, square grid, so as to invoke the systematic efficiency and social structure of ants.

“SAMF-V” is a vicious vehicle with long, wooden spikes that channels both primitive violence and industrial strength.

April 25, 2012   1 Comment

Now Open: Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku by Hiroshi Nakamura

unless otherwise noted, all images courtesy japan-architects.com | click to enlarge

The Jingumae crossing is where Omotesando and Harajuku intersect. It’s been the gateway to Tokyo fashion and its history as a hotbed of cultural movements has been as colorful as the people who inhabit it. As for the landscape, buildings have come and gone as quickly as fads. But in the latest iteration, Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku, a mouthful-of-a-name that has been quickly dubbed Omohara, has emerged as a fortress of fashion. The towering castle-like structure was designed by Hiroshi Nakamura, an award-winning architect who helped shaped the new terminals at Haneda airport.

Omohara opened its doors on April 18th, officially becoming the home base for major fashion retailers like American Eagle and Tommy Hilfiger, as well as a host of smaller domestic Japanese brands.

The entrance is an impressive seizure-inducing kaleidoscope of mirrors that’s akin to something out of Stargate.

Once inside, the signature work of Hiroshi Nakamura becomes more evident. The protégé of Kengo Kuma has a knack for merging light, space and nature, all of which work together to create what appears to be a fashion theme park.

You can read all our stories on Hiroshi Nakamura here.

For many, the highlight will be the magical rooftop terrace, which looks like an absolutely awesome place to hang out on a sunny day.

image courtesy Starbucks, who maintains a presence on the terrace

April 25, 2012   1 Comment

State of Create: Adobe creativity study reveals Japan is the most creative country

In a new study released by Adobe, global respondents named Japan as the most creative country. But guess who disagreed? The Japanese. The findings, in the Japanese media, are being labeled as “Study identifies Japan as most insecure country.” Oh, and we Americans also disagreed – we thought America was the most creative.

Among the study’s other findings were that 80% believe that creativity is critical to economic growth. Yet only one in four people feel like they are living up to their creative potential. And 75% of respondents said they feel like their employers put more pressure on them to be productive than to be creative.

source: ITMedia

April 24, 2012   1 Comment

Cacomi by Shin Azumi

While the indulgent and raucous happenings of Salone Milano were taking place, London-based Japanese designer Shin Azumi quietly announced his latest design – Cacomi: a series of modular office furniture for Japanese furniture manufacturer Itoki. Meaning “encolsure” in Japanese, Cacomi is a diverse and flexible collection that  allows you to pair varying furniture of varying heights.

I know it’s wishful thinking but I would love to see a bunch of Japanese salarymen with their iconic combovers chatting it up at a modern desk like this.

And this is just a side note, but I find it fascinating how different an aesthetic Japanese designers produce depending on whether they are based in Japan or abroad.

Source: @shin_azu | newsletter


April 24, 2012   Comments Off

Net Lamp by Ryosuke Fukusada

If Ernesto Neto’s genitalia art was turned into lighting, it might possibly resemble the work of Ryosuke Fukusada, a Japanese designer currently based in Milan and working for Patricia Urquiola. Where the Brazilian artist – who happens to be having a show in NYC right now – uses crocheted netting to lift us off the ground, Fukusada uses compressed netting to lift LED lamps off the ground, and hold them in place.

Net Lamp’s structure is actually quite genius – 2 metal discs support each side of the cylindrical net. The compressed knitting holds the LED globe in place but also allows you to move it freely throughout the net.

images courtesy Ryosuke Fukusada and manuelacifarelli | click to enlarge

source: Ryosukefukusada.com

April 23, 2012   Comments Off

Milano Salone 2012: Sapore dei Mobili by Ryosuke Fukusada and Rui Pereira

Having trouble digesting everything that the contemporary furniture industry spews at you? Or even everything Milano Salone spews at you? Well Japanese designer Ryosuke Fukusada and Portugese designer Rui Pereira did. So they decided to create Sapore dei Mobili, an alternative way of digesting furniture – a “furniture pan” that churns out delicious and entirely edible furniture cakes.

Subversive yet cute! And the best part is they’re giving out free furniture cakes at their booth located at VenturaRunaway 2012.

This post is part of our review of the 2012 Milano Salone del Mobile. All posts will be archived in 1 convenient place.

Source: mocoloco | saporedeimobili

April 20, 2012   Comments Off

Milano Salone 2012: A New Desire by Kenya Hara

images courtesy lixil | click to enlarge

I think one of my favorites from Milano Salone so far is renowned graphic designer Kenya Hara’s installation for LIXIL, a supplier of architectural and housing products. Focusing on water, the exhibition showcased a striking and symbolic new bathtub that uses a unique technology to create fine, velvety foam that looks yummy enough to eat. No – this is not your typical bubble bath.

I love the shape of this bath, which incorporates the look of overflowing suds into the design. This is the most satisfying, round, bulbous, voluptuous bathtub I have ever seen.

In Japan, the bathtub is more than just a part of the bathroom where you wash away grime and dirt. It’s a place where people go to relax their mind and soul. LIXIL’s new bathtub uses air, hot water and a special foaming agent that, unlike typical soap suds, is so unabrasive (I know, that’s not a word) you can theoretically soak in them for as long as you like. But the foam isn’t only for pleasure. It forms a thick layer, insulating the water and preventing steam from escaping. Not that anyone would want to, but you can even put your tub in your moisture-sensitive library.

This post is part of our review of the 2012 Milano Salone del Mobile. All posts will be archived in 1 convenient place.

Source: Lixil

April 19, 2012   Comments Off