japanese art, design and culture

Category — Events

Interconnection | an installation of weightless discs illustrates the unstoppable forces of nature


Designer Nao Tamura (previously) has completed an installation that comprises multiple purple petal-like pieces that hang from the ceiling on threads; each individual element moves in response to the natural flow of air as visitors pass the fixture. “There are forces in nature that are beyond the control of mankind. We have learned how fragile we are in the face of such forces,” says Tamura, referring – albeit subtly – to the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan. “However, we have also learned the importance of accepting nature and learning to live in harmony with it.”




“Interconnected, ” which was designed for Lexus as part of Milano Salone 2014, demonstrates the constant give-and-take in nature, as well as our planet’s delicate balance.

The Brooklyn-based designer Takeshi Miyakawa (previously) was recruited by Tamura to assist in the complex structural design process. “I thought it was a piece of cake but it turned out to be one of the most challenging project I’ve ever worked on,” wrote Miyakawa. The pair were also joined by music composer Aya Nishina, who created an accompanying soundtrack for the installation.


Here are some photos from people who attended the exhibition:

This post is part of our review of  Japanese design at the 2014 Milano Salone del Mobile. All posts are cataloged right here.

April 11, 2014   No Comments

KYOTOGRAPHIE | a photography festival descends upon Kyoto

Cherry blossoms aren’t the only thing blossoming in Kyoto. Beginning next week, KYOTOGRAPHIE, a 3 week-long international photography festival, kicks off it’s 2nd year. A diverse mix of 13 art, fashion, and nature photographers will be showing works themed on humankind’s relationship with the environment and our planet.

What makes the festival special is that the organizers have teamed up with various venues – train stations, museums, galleries and traditional machiya – effectively taking you an a tour of Kyoto as you experience awe-inspiring art. Head over to their website, where you’ll find more information on all the events in English and Japanese.


Barkhanes in the crater zone, from Mars, a photographic exploration © NASA / JPL / The University of Arizona / Éditions Xavier Barral


Diorama Map Kyoto 2003 © Sohei Nishino


CARMEN, early 1950’s © Lillian Bassman


© Daido Moriyama


Headland, Torii on the Cliff © Akiko Takizawa


Silk Drying 2, Kyoto, Japan 1951 © Werner Bischof / Magnum Photos


19 August 1993 Mihama fukui Pref. © Taishi Hirokawa


Royal White Tiger © Tim Flach


untitled, 2012 © Rinko Kawauchi

April 8, 2014   No Comments

Monster Exhibition 2014 | a charity art show for victims of the earthquake and tsunami



What resembles a white, monstrous reptile with pointy spikes across its entire body, wraps around a room. But this isn’t Jurassic Park. This is the 8th floor of Shibuya Hikarie department store. And the monster is actually made from folded cardboard. Its twists and turns create pathways for people to walk through, while the large body serves as display table for various monster-themes artworks.


Monster Exhibition 2014, which just ended yesterday, was a charity art exhibition aimed at raising money for victims of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Monsters are a metaphor for disaster but also power and energy. The exhibition acknowledges that disasters happen, and attempts to turn it into a strong message for the future.

Even if you missed the Tokyo exhibition, the monsters will be traveling to New York this summer for a show at hpgrp gallery.

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The special guest artist was Yuji Kaida, one of the most well-known “kaiju” artists in Japan, made famous by his Ultraman and Dundam illustrations.

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Natsumi Kaneko creates 3D sculptural scenes of imaginary monsters to depict the relentless forces of nature.


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Yasuto Walabayashi depicts monsters attacking an destroying landmarks from his home town in Kanagawa.


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Daisuke Tajima paints post-apocalyptic urban cityscapes.


source: Design Made In Japan

March 13, 2014   Comments Off

Design As It Is | an answer to the overly designed product

“The definition of design has been updated – this is a new era of design,” exclaims Eisuke Tachikawa, lead designer at Nosigner and curator of “Design As It Is.” The new exhibition, which just opened at Singplural 2014, proposes a new type of design: one that shuns the overly designed visible forms and transitions to minimally designed invisible relationships. Stated differently, the physical form stays the same. The only thing that changes, or is designed, is the relationship.

Here are a few examples:

The moon as a lamp. Designed by Nosigner.


Onions as trivets. Designed by Yusuke Komatsu.


A light bulb as a light bulb. Designed by Hironao Tsuboi.


An apple as a toy (kendama). Designed by Yasuhiro Suzuki.


A beam of wood as light. Designed by Nosigner.


A flipbook as rainbow. Designed by Masashi Kawamura.


source: press release

March 12, 2014   Comments Off

Sebastian Masuda’s Colorful Rebellion


Sebastian-Masuda-Art-001-600x899If Kyary Pamyu Pamyu is the reigning queen of Japanese kawaii culture, then the king is undoubtedly Sebastian Masuda.  Having founded his 6% DOKIDOKI shop in Harajuku almost 20 years ago, it wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that Masuda was largely responsible for the cultivation and subsequent rise of Kyary herself, who was one of Masuda’s frequent customers.

As art director for hits like PONPONPON and Fashion Monster, Masuda helped project his colorful kawaii pop beyond Japan. And now, for the first time, Masuda himself is physically moving beyond Japan for his first solo exhibition in New York.


Colorful Rebellion – Seventh Nightmare” will debut at KiangaEllis Projects in Chelsea on Feb 27 and will run till March 29, 2014. Go here for specific dates and times.



February 25, 2014   Comments Off

A Tiny Ice Skating Rink Emerges In The Middle of Ginza

hermes skating rink photo04all photos courtesy maison hermes | click to enlarge

Ginza, the high-end shopping district of Tokyo, is known for its designer boutiques and high real estate prices – one of the highest in the world, in fact. An ice skating rink is one of the last things you would expect to find here amongst the stilettos and handbags. But sure enough, beginning tomorrow, Maison Hermes will begin offering 30-min ice skating lessons on what is surely the smallest ice skating rink I’ve ever seen.

The 3 x 3 meter circular rink was erected by Hermes, right in front of their Ginza store. It opens on December 14 and will remain until Christmas Day. Lessons are free of charge but given the tight space you must register online (using facebook) and lucky skaters will be selected at random.

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source: @architecturephoto

December 13, 2013   Comments Off

Thanks to Japanese Technology Lady Gaga Can Come To Your Birthday Party


Gaga poses for photographers with her life-size dolls during a news conference in Tokyo | photo © AP


Lady Gaga was in Japan earlier this month to promote her new album Artpop. The promotional tour included TV performances, a Yahoo Japan website decked out in Lady Gaga (live through 12/25) and, of course, anatomically correct humanoid dolls of herself.


The state-of-the-art dolls came about from a rare collaboration between a sex toy manufacturer (Orient Industries) and creative agency PARTY. A video created by the team to show how the dolls were made is fantastic. It’s like the trailer for a sadistic horror film.


And now that Gaga has left Japan, the dolls are sitting around doing nothing, just waiting for you to call them up. The website recently added a new “booking” section where you can apply for one of the dolls to come to your “television, magazine, or other event. They can even be displayed at museums or public schools,” says the website.

source: JapanTimes | @masakawa

December 9, 2013   Comments Off

Masanori Oji Show in NY Tomorrow [Friday Nov. 15]


Product designer Oji Masanori is someone I’ve been following from very early in his career. The elegant, functional designs he produces for artisan manufacturers like Takahashi Kogei and Jicon embody, what I consider to be, ideal contemporary Japanese design.

I’m really excited that Oji-san is in NYC right now, preparing for a solo exhibition of his work. The event, titled Yukari, is hosted by the great folks over at Nalata Nalata and is part of a larger pop-up shop that will run through Dec 24. Oji-san will be on site tomorrow to talk about his work. Won’t you join me?

Opening Reception: (Meet Oji Masanori): Nov 15, 7:30PM – 10: 00PM
Venue: 2 Extra Place, New York, NY (Manhattan) – GMAP
Nearest transit: F (2nd Ave), 6 (Bleeker), BDF (Broadway Lafayette)




November 14, 2013   Comments Off

Yasuyuki Takagi Photographs Empty Lots in the Wild

yasuyuki takagi (1)Photos courtesy Artligue and the artist | click to enlarge

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It’s interesting to compare the empty lots that Yasuyuki Takagi has been exploring and documenting. “Nature has always been elusive and very attractive to me,” says the Japanese photographer. “The natural world of forests, rivers, desserts, and wild animals was something I craved. It seems endless and life too short to see it all.” In a series of photographs taken in Yakushima, a remote island south of Kyushu, Takagi captures an ancient community of tree trunks covered in moss. It’s an island impervious to time, but brings the passage of it to the forefront. In a sense, the chaos of the serenity is much like that of a large city.

Relocating to one of the world’s largest, ever-expanding cities: New York, the photographer’s current home. In a sort of parallel series titled “brooklyn lot recordings,” Takagi captures overgrown empty lots in Brooklyn. The haunting photographs are made all the more powerful by their transience – their ability to capture time. “Weeds grew tall, the sounds of the East River gurgled through an abandoned dock… I turned around and photographed a wall. There it was; a shot of a torn wall, a faded graffiti tag, and weeds growing up through the snow,” says Takagi, describing the scene. “It is all gone now.”

Yasuyuki Takagi will be displaying his series of empty Brooklyn lots at Bushwick gallery Lorimoto in an exhibition opening tomorrow, Saturday Sept 28, 2013 (6-9pm). “Front Line” will be on display at Lorimoto through October 27th.

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September 27, 2013   Comments Off

PechaKucha Global Night | September 20


If you’ve never attended a PechaKucha Talk, the global phenomenon that originated in Tokyo and now in over 680 cities, this would be a good time to start. Next Friday (September 20, 2013) the team is hosting a big “PechaKucha Global Night.” Over 100 cities will be participating so go online and see if your city is. And even if it’s not, they’re teaming up with Google Hangouts to do a global chat that will run for close to 20 hours, connecting with organizers around the world.

It “will essentially be a ‘telethon’ linking up with all the cities taking part,” says co-founder Mark Dytham. “Anyone can drop in and see what’s happening at any given time during the event.”


The theme will be “Hidden Heros.” If you’re in Tokyo you’ll see, amongst others, designer/architect Keiji Ashizawa highlight the amazing artisans who help him produce the products he designs. You’ll also see Luis Mendo, PechaKucha’s design director, talk about the “hidden heroes” he has been noticing in Tokyo since his recent move there, using his lovely illustration style.


September 11, 2013   Comments Off