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Some of the most exciting art happens on the street, outside the enclosed white walls of a gallery. Shiori Yano, a graduating art student from the prestigious Tama Art University, was inspired by the artists and musicians creating art on her city streets. “Tokyo changes at a dizzying speed but seeing communities being formed and the interactions between people became the inspiration for this project,” writes Yano, referring to her thesis exhibition “Mothers Mountain. Briefly stepping outside and peering into her own ecosystem, Yano picks and chooses from her vast visual memory to create an immersive installation that crystalizes her experience of growing up in Tokyo.
The installation will be on view next week (3.14 – 3.16) in Yokohama.
(this post is part of our review of student artwork from 2014 senior thesis exhibitions. You can see all our coverage of student artwork here)
March 5, 2014 No Comments
Hokkaido-based architect Jun Igarashi’s (previously) latest home is perhaps as close to tree-house living as you’ll find. Unless of course you live in an actual tree house. The multi-leveled home in Sapporo features a main living room with 23-ft high ceilings. Three different winding staircases access multiple level mezzanines, just like the platforms that are constructed on top of sturdy tree branches. The different levels are used as a study and a children’s playroom.
It’s certainly a unique way to make use of high ceilings but I can’t help but wonder: how could you let a child wander through this precarious jungle gym?
January 28, 2014 3 Comments
If you’re headed to Japan as a foreign exchange student staying with a host family, and if you’re really lucky (I mean, stepped in dog poo lucky) you may end up lodging in this gorgeous home designed by Apollo Architects. Located in Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo it was designed specifically for a family who regularly hosts foreign exchange students. “One of the key design concepts is to respect the privacy of the family and guests to achieve comfortable and relaxing lifestyles,” said lead architect Satoshi Kurosaki.
On the 1st floor is the guest room. It’s designed in traditional Japanese style – tatami floors and all – to help foster a more authentic feel. It’s attached to a courtyard that’s surrounded by exposed concrete walls. By opening the sliding doors it connects to an open space facing the street.
December 12, 2013 2 Comments
In a fascinating installation, artist and student Minami Arai uses books and wires to illuminate the lost art of the written word. “Before typewriters there was the written word,” says Arai in a statement. “The text would trace the action of writing , offering glimpses of the author’s personality current state of mind.”
In “Tracing Action” Arai uses thick wire and to recreate an elevated text from her favorite books. It’s as if the text is rising off the page and being brought to life.
The installation was part of Arai’s graduating thesis show at Musashino Art University. It then went on to win an award in the Mitsubishi Chemical Junior Designer Award, which celebrates the work of student artists. You can see all our previous coverage of the awards HERE.
Arai even goes as far as to adjust the depth of edits made after the original writing to illustrate the passage of time.
November 25, 2013 Comments Off
Safety, right under your butt. That’s actually the slogan for this new helmet. But, the designers weren’t joking around when they created Mamoris, a chair that transforms into a helmet. The name comes from the words mamoru (to protect) and isu (chair).
“You never know when a natural disaster like an earthquake might strike you,” says Yuji Ikawa, one of the co-founders. “We thought about how best to implement safety into our daily lives.” Realizing that chairs are not only ubiquitous but that they could also take inspiration from its shape and form, the designers created a helmet that doubles as the backrest of a chair.
The helmet chair does have a lot going for it. Not only does it completely eliminate the need for helmet storage, it’s unique design offers protection to delicate areas like neck and back as well.
Even though it’s been 2 and a half years since the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, safety continues to be a dominant theme in the Japanese design industry, whether it’s with unique helmets or conceptual pieces of furniture to remind us of the threat of radiation.
This post is part of a series covering the 2013 Tokyo Designers Week.
October 30, 2013 2 Comments
Japanese designer Eisuke Tachikawa, who runs the design firm Nosigner, is currently in Paris where he is unveiling several new works at the major French trade show Maison et Objet.
Working with one of his favorite themes of memory, Tachikawa has created a candle modeled from, and blended with, charcoal. The design harkens back to days before electricity when our ancestors would burn charcoal to pass the dark nights.
And expanding on his Cartesia series, which features a bi-directional drawer system, the designer has created a dining table. The Cartesia #3 Table is a beautiful, sleek table with hidden drawers that make it easy to retrieve cutlery or stationary even when sitting down.
source: press release
September 11, 2013 Comments Off
Naoya Matsumoto, along with students from Seian University of Art and Design, constructed a pop-up bar this summer using Yoshi, a type of reed grass. Yoshi grows freely around Lake Biwa, where the University and pop-up bar is located. Each year students are asked to design objects using Yoshi grass but this year was different. “With just 2 days for construction the students decided to create a functioning bar where people could come and hang out,” explains Matsumoto. “The most important point was how to create a simple yet attractive space for the user.”
July 22, 2013 Comments Off
Japan is famous for its castles, a large majority of which were constructed in the 16th century as strategic sites during the sengoku (warring States) period. But one particular castle is known, not for its high stone walls or golden roof tiles, but lack thereof: its ruins. Built in 1441, Takeda Castle, or what’s left of it, sits at the summit of a mountain that towers more than 1100 ft., hence earning it the nickname, “castle in the sky.”
Indeed, the sight is one that is reminiscent of Machu Picchu. Except one needn’t hop on a flight to Peru or hike the Inca trail almost 8000 ft up. All one needs to do is plan a day trip from Kyoto. It’s about 3 hours away. It’s a must-see for fans of the movie Laputa.
Bonus: photo by hiroshi ookura
This is what Jcastle, a guide to Japanese castles, has to say about the history:
Takeda Castle was built on this site in the path of aggression between Harima/Tanba and Tajima as a stronghold of Izushi Castle. It was built by Ohtagaki Mitsukage, a retainer of Yamana Sozen, lord of the area, in 1441. Ohtagaki, who had been a military commander of the Yamana clan for 5 generations became lord of the castle.
Takeda Castle was conquered by Hideyoshi in his Tajima of 1577. Hideyoshi placed it in the control of his younger brother, Hidenaga, who moved to Izushi less than 2 years later. Akamatsu Hirohide, the last lord of the castle fought on the side of the Western Forces for Tokugawa at the battle of Sekigahara in the attack on Tottori Castle. Hirohide served valiantly in the battle, but was accused of setting the castle town on fire. Later that year he committed seppuku and the Takeda Castle was abandoned.
June 27, 2013 Comments Off
A short intro on beauty salons in Japan
The Japanese beauty salon business is a cutthroat industry. According to Shirosaka Inc., a company that aggregates beauty salon data in Japan (yes, that exists), the number of shops have been on a steady rise ever since they began tracking data in 1970. Over the last 40 years the number of beauty salons have more than doubled, from around 100,000 to 223,000 in 2011. And it’s not just in the numbers. Every time I visit Japan a fast food shop or a flower shop has closed down, only to be replaced by a beauty salon. Meanwhile, Japan is seeing one of the most rapid declines in population of any country on earth. Then why are there so many beauty salons, you might wonder? The reasons are vast and varied and includes a large number of beauticians who leave their nest to start their own shop, but also an ongoing trend in which young Japanese men try to resemble their female counterparts.
So to survive in such a harsh market, beauty salons have taken to creative means to lure customers, often enlisting architects and designers to help create an ideal environment that will win over clients. In a short series, we explore recent trends in beauty salon architecture – a field that has uniquely evolved in Japan.
End…Link | a beauty salon inspired by a jungle gym
“I wanted to create a be-all and end-all beauty salon for our clients,” says Yuki Shirasawa, who explains the name behind her beauty salon “End…Link,” which she started 6 years ago in Osaka. But as her business grew, so did her team and the time came to move into a larger space. So Shirasawa went about locating a address. She decided on a 90ft-deep space in central Osaka.
Yasunari Tsukada, the designer who helped create her first space, was brought back on board. “The scope of what I design isn’t fixed. I think about all things and objects on the same plane as possible targets for design, and constantly think about what it means to ‘design’ something,” says Tsukada, who came up with a creative solution to utilize the elongated space. Inspired by the rawness and flexibility of a jungle gym, Tsukada decided to install architectural wooden lattice screens on one wall. Providing only a structural framework, the lattice takes on various functions, acting as display shelves and tables, but also helping to define the space without the use of partitions, which tend to be isolating.
June 24, 2013 Comments Off
Industrial designer Oji Masanori has a knack for incorporating traditional craftsmanship into contemporary design that’s both user-friendly and easy on the eyes. One of his latest designs is the wonderful double-decker bento box carved from Japanese magnolia. It was manufactured by Wajima Kirimoto and utilizes the company’s acclaimed makiji technique to create a lacquered finish on the inside that is durable enough to withstand silverware.
June 10, 2013 1 Comment