japanese art, design and culture

Category — Industrial Design

Bloom | embroidered glass tableware by Jun Murakoshi


Photos by Kota Sugawara

What does thread and blown glass have in common? Both materials embody warmth and tension – two conflicting properties – says Jun Murakoshi. For the Tokyo-based designer, this commonality gave birth to a brand new line of tableware that combines blown glass and threaded patterns. Personally, I never thought that the worlds of glass-making and embroidery would every collide. I was wrong.

The series of glass fruit bowls and flower vases come with grooved edges around the rim. Dreamcatcher-like web patterns are threaded through the grooves to create beautiful “narrow lines” and “unlimited patterns.” The transparency and exquisiteness that each material possess works surprisingly well together.




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

April 15, 2014   2 Comments

A lampshade made from light

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If “clothes make the man,” as Mark Twain once famously wrote, then lampshades definitely make the lamp. And this is not your grandparent’s lamp shade. Japanese design unit YOY (previously) has given new light to what was previously an outdated, dust-covered concept.

The minimal lamp has a head embedded with an LED light. A carved out socket casts a glow of light that’s shaped like a lamp shade that, most certainly, makes the lamp. It comes in two form, a table and floor lamp, and is debuting at the 2014 Milano Salone.

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

April 12, 2014   1 Comment

A rug that doubles as a chair


photos by yasuko furukawa

There are probably 99 things that double as chairs, but rugs aren’t one of them, until today. Japanese design unit YOY (pronounced yo-ee) have developed a rug with an aluminum center. When folded, it holds its shape, effectively transforming into a chair. An odd design? Not really. Especially coming from the duo who have displayed a knack for incorporating playful illusions into their work, such as the canvas that doubles as a chair.

The rug/chair would actually be perfect for small spaces that don’t always need a lot of furniture. Naoki Ono and Yuuki Yamamoto, the designer duo that comprises YOY, unveiled their new shape-shifting furniture at Milano Salone, going on right now.





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

April 10, 2014   No Comments

Tokujin Yoshioka’s Gravity-Defying Agravic Table

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It’s “the table of the universe,” states Tokujin Yoshioka, boldly. Indeed, it’s a brash claim that’s somehow excusable when made by one of Japan’s most sought-after designers. “Maybe I just find hidden beauty in things which others have not noticed before me,” says the industrial designer, who has a knack for turning unexpected materials into something minimally exquisite.

This year at Milano Salone, Yoshioka has unveiled “Agravic,” which refers to the theoretical condition of zero gravity. The Agravic table doesn’t exactly defy gravity but rather toys with gravity, poking fun at it in a cautionary, precarious way. A massive marble table (that probably weighs several tons) seemingly floats in midair. It’s made stable only by two triangular prisms that are pinpointing, with exact accuracy, the balancing points that keep the table “floating in the universe.”

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Other than the prototype above, these are, of course, renderings. Below are some actual photos from people who visited the exhibition, which runs from April 8 – 11.

April 9, 2014   No Comments

Playful e-ink watches by w0w Tokyo

Those objects do look a lot like Kickstarter-backed Pebble watches, but they were actually conceived two years before the successful crowdfunded project. And contrary to their American counterpart, they do not claim to be particularly smart. w0w, the Tokyo-based design studio behind the project, wanted to create a timepiece that is neither analog, nor completely digital. They chose to combine physical and digital media in a subtle way: its e-ink screen displays original animations that integrate playfully with the physical appearance of the watch. Look at your timepiece and you might see Big Ben, a retro clock, or even a tiny character climbing inside!


The collection was created in a partnership between w0w and Epson, which sells a Moomin version of the watch along with a special edition for soccer fans. Head over to their official page if you want to learn more.



 Image credit: w0w

April 7, 2014   No Comments

TAKT project uses 3D printing to transform everyday objects

You may not know TAKT Project, but you’ve probably come across one of their creations before. The four experienced designer of this Tokyo-based design agency have worked on several project with consumer goods brands Muji and Sony in the past. They banded together in 2011 in an effort to bring innovative and inspiring product design to the masses. Last year, they made this vision come true by teaming up with the Japanese startup WHILL and supporting the design of its futuristic mobility vehicle.

3-PRING Product, their latest project, aims to cross the bridge between industrial design and DIY culture by giving consumers the power to transform the products of their daily life. 3-PRING blends elements designed and 3D printed by the TAKT team with mass-produced goods from Japanese brand MUJI. The parts produced by TAKT allow your pen container to become a minimalist ceiling lamp, your simple clock to become wall-mounted, or even your chairs to be used as a table.


Attachment Clock = Alarm Clock + 3D-printed parts + Suction cup

“Just like a ‘sampling techniques’ in music industry which create new tracks by quoting a track or sound in the past, we can create original products by quoting a ready-made product, and adding pieces made by 3D printer.”

The project was still experimental as they presented it last month at the Shibuya MOV lounge, and they are pondering as to whether or not they should release the 3d-printing data to the public. Let’s hope they do and allow consumers worldwide to take control of their everyday objects.

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Table = Steel Leg Chair + 3D-printed parts + Honeycomb Cardboard


Pendant Light = Plastic Basket + 3D-printed parts + LED

Photo credits: Masayuki Hayashi

See the rest of the article for more designs by TAKT:

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April 4, 2014   No Comments

Contemporary Katana Sword by Marc Newson and Tohoku Craftsmen

This unique set of Japanese swords are the fruit of the collaboration between Australian designer Mark Newson and craftsmen from Japan’s Tohoku area. The piece aims to combine the minimalist aesthetics of contemporary design with the age-old skills of the traditional Japanese craftsmen.

Aikuchi is a contemporary art piece which is created by incorporating a Japanese sense of beauty, traditional craftsmanship and innovative design.



But the hard part of this project was not merely to come up with a good-looking design. It required a true, in-depth collaboration between Newson and the craftsmen in order to be able to produce the first Aikuchi sword. The Australian designer traveled to meet them in their Tohoku workshops and discover their time-tested techniques. As a Japanese craftsmen will typically master one craft only, several were needed for the project. Experts in lacquerware, woodwork, and blade-making put their skills to work during a tedious trial and error process.

You can have a glimpse of the adventure that led to the making of the swords in this video:

As you would expect, an object created to cross the borders between art, design and craftsmanship will not be easy to get your hands on: it comes at an undisclosed price, and only 10 pieces will be produced.



via w0w

April 2, 2014   2 Comments

Optical Illusion Pen Cases Appear to be Three Dimensional


Derived from the word “fake,” FAKUS is a new line of products from Japanese stationary store Bundoki. A few simple, cartoonish illustrations turn a boring pen case into something bold and eye-catching. Are they 2D? Are they 3D? You be the judge.

They range from 577 – 787 yen, depending on the style, and are available online (but in Japanese only).





source: matomeno

March 26, 2014   1 Comment

Light Bulb Flower Vases | an ode to an obsolete product


In 2007 Japan’s Ministry of Environment began asking companies to voluntarily desist production and sales of inefficient incandescent light bulbs. Toshiba obliged, and others followed. Similar movements are happening all around the world and it’s clear that it’s only a matter of time before the incandescent light bulb is completely replaced by its more eco-friendly brethren.

Product designer Yuma Kuno decided to preserve this nostalgic form by turning incandescent light bulbs into flower vases. Using real discarded bulbs, Kuno simply opened a hole and turned an obsolete object into something completely new. The filament – a vital component of the bulb – even gets repurposed as a holder to keep the stem in place.

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all photos by Satoru Ikegami

At 26, Kuno is a young artist turned product designer. After graduating from Tokyo Zokei University he worked as assistant to the artist Yasuhiro Suzuki, which explains the playful nature of Kuno’s work.

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March 25, 2014   2 Comments

Moss Bench by Kazunaga Sakashita


“A rolling stone gathers no moss,” or so the old proverb goes. But in a recent piece that blurs the lines of artistic and functional qualities, it is the 450 million year old moss that is being reinvented. Reworking his award-winning 2006 tatami bench, industrial designer Kazunaga Sakashita removed the tatami seating and – with the help and consultation of bonsai artist Takuya Shimazu – replaced it with delicate moss. Looking at it from above it’s almost as if you’re looking down on a dense forest from a bird’s eye view. Just don’t sit on it with white pants.





source: Kazunaga Sakashita’s blog

March 19, 2014   Comments Off