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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 No Comments
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage | How to prepare for Haruki Murakami’s new novel
Word has leaked that Haruki Murakami’s trusted translator Philip Gabriel is aiming to finish translating Haruki Murakami’s latest novel by the end of this year. That means that the English version of “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage” will probably hit bookstores in the first half of 2014. For those who don’t want to twiddle their thumbs for 8 – 12 more months, take intensive Japanese lessons or reread “Norweigian Wood,” I’ve put together a preparation guide to help you begin to immerse yourself in Murakami’s latest world, ahead of its English release.
If you’re familiar with Murakami you’ll know that his novels are loaded with illusions and references to music, pop culture and literature – everything from Leoš Janáček’s Sinfonietta to John Ford westerns and Raymond Chandler. It’s easy to breeze through his novels without being familiar with these references. But knowing them might possibly create new connections, setting the stage for a deeper reading and enhanced appreciation.
What you’ll find below is not spoilers of any kind. Rather, I’ve put together a collection of music and literature that are all referenced in the Japanese novel (“Shikisai wo Motanai Tazaki Tsukuru to, Kare no Junrei no Toshi”).
Années de pèlerinage (Years of Pilgrimage) is a set of three suites for solo piano by the Hungarian composer Franz Liszt. You’ll want to listen to Le mal du pays (Homesickness) as played by russian pianist Lazar Berman.
“Round Midnight” the 1944 jazz standard by pianist Thelonious Monk. The song is also sometimes called “Round About Midnight”
“Viva Las Vegas,” the 1963 song (not the movie) recorded by Elvis Presley.
“Don’t Be Cruel,” the 1956 song recorded by Elvis Presley.
The work and key concepts of Georges Bataille – French intellectual and literary figure from the early 1900s.
The Doors of Perception – a 1954 book by Aldous Huxley detailing his experiences with the psychedelic drug mescaline (similar to LSD).
The Lost World – a 1912 novel by Conan Doyle. The plot involves an expedition to a plateau in the Amazon basin of South America where prehistoric animals roam freely. The title was reused by Michael Crichton in his 1995 novel The Lost World, a sequel to Jurassic Park.
“Ideas are like beards; men do not have them until they grow up.” – Voltaire
“Kitchen staff instinctively hate dining-room staff and all of them hate the customer.” – Arnold Wesker.
If you want to knock yourself out you can familiarize yourself with the British dramatist’s play The Kitchen (1957).
May 30, 2013 No Comments
It’s that time of year again for Milano Salone, where the world’s top designers present impeccable, minimalist works that I would probably never consider putting in my home. Now in its 52nd year, the organization refers to itself as “the global benchmark for the Home Furnishing Sector.” But not everyone agrees. In recent years an increase in commercial shindigs and promotional events staged by cash-rich banks and car-makers prompted British designer Jasper Morrison to suggest that Salone del Mobile be renamed “Salone del Marketing.”
Whatever you decide to call it, last year was a big year for Japanese design. Akihisa Hirata, a rising star in architecture and protégé of recent Pritzker prize winner Toyo Ito, took home the Elita Design Award for his installation of solar panels. And staying consistent with the high-tech theme, Nendo designed a series of 3D-printed lacquered paper objects. This year we’re already seeing glimpses of high-tech design 2.0 (more on that below), but also a return to the minimal furniture pieces that the fair is more conventionally known for.
Energetic Energies – Akihisa Hirata’s 30-meter energy landscape
Electronic giant Panasonic has once again tapped Akihisa Hirata to design an installation that incorporates their future energy solutions. This year Hirata is staging a 30-meter “energy landscape” made from hundreds of small cubic solar panels. Improving on his design from last year, Hirata has opted for smaller solar-panel modules randomly arranged to simulate leaves on a tree, rather than in a pane. “The sun moves from east to west, with its angle relative to earth constantly changing. That’s why plants grow their branches and leaves in so many different directions,” exclaimed Hirata, arguing that we must rethink the way we deploy solar panels.
Now that the piece has been installed, here are some pictures of what it looks like:
April 3, 2013 Comments Off
I must be on some weird b-grade Japanese movie kick, but this one looks good too.
Happy setsubun-no-hi! If you’re In Tokyo tomorrow (Sunday) these people are planning to throw 1.5 tons of beans off Tokyo Tower (and so can you).
A handy guide for famous foods in every Japanese prefecture.
5 words you must know before visiting Japan.
In a sluggish publishing market, Japanese men’s fashion mags stay in style.
Did you know 82 of the world’s 100 busiest train stations are in Japan?
Tokyo Shinbun created an augmented reality newspaper app for kids.
Kengo Kuma just won a contract to design a new museum in France.
And just when you thought it was over, the latest Gangnam Style parody.
February 2, 2013 1 Comment
Inspired by the 400-year old “Chakumi-Ningyo” (茶運人形) – the coil spring-powered tea serving robots that move when a cup of tea is placed on their tray – a Japanese man decided to see if he could do something similar, only with paper. Choosing to remain anonymous, the man (yes I’m being stereotypical by assuming he’s a man) writes about his trials and tribulations in devising his paper robot. After many prototypes he finally completed PR-III, a movable robot that, other than a rubber band and some bamboo pivots, is made entirely from paper. Impressive!
A time-lapse of the robot coming together, piece by piece, is captured in the video below. If you’re short on time, cut to 3:15 when the robot starts moving.
Confident in his new contraption, he’s put all the diagrams and instructions on a CD-Rom and is selling it for 3000 yen. But you’ll have to email him to make arrangements for payment and delivery. And even if you do, you’ll have to navigate a complete set of self-assembly instructions in Japanese. If you really want to take on the labor of love, try the “Chakumi-Ningyo,” which he’s put online for anyone to download for free.
As a youtube commenter pointed out, on a scale of one to ten, the difficulty level is “Asian.”
September 17, 2012 Comments Off
Inspired by the traditional Japanese wrapping cloth furoshiki, Samira Boon designed this amazing zipper and button free bags. These are made from only a single piece of vinyl film folded (and remain folded using the adhesive qualities of the material) in such a way you can put almost anything you want inside.
Simple and fun!
Like furoshiki? Check out our in-depth interview and factory photo shoot with LINK.
August 23, 2012 Comments Off
Finish furniture firm (say that 10 times, then read on) Nikari asked 12 designers to create a wooden product, each being released once a month in a year-long initiative titled “Project 2012 Design for Nature.” For the month of July, Nao Tamura created this gorgeous stool that celebrates the imperfections of nature.
Like a bundle of wooden logs, three individual “slices” — unequal in size, variegated in grain and color, and uneven surface angles — unite to create a beautiful, singular form.
Each stool enjoys its own sense of individuality. Together, in multiples, they create a sculptural seating display for gathering spaces.
Source: Nao Tamura
July 19, 2012 Comments Off
A big thank you to PrintRunner for sponsoring this week’s RSS feed!
PrintRunner is a full service high quality printing company located in Van Nuys, California. Having been in the business for 10 years, PrintRunner differentiates their printing services from the competition by offering all their services in-house – from concept to completion. In the market for business card printing? You can design your own project using their Online Design Tool.
I was equally impressed by their unique color system that sends electronic color profiles direct to a state-of-the-art Japanese Komori press!
June 7, 2012 Comments Off
For the Spring/Summer 2012 collection of ELTTOB TEP (previously) – Issey Miyake’s more innovative retail project – visual design studio WOW created an installation of 8 computer controlled fans and a single piece of fabric. Called ‘organdie,’ the ultra-light fabric, which is also used throughout the collection, creates gentle wave-like motions as it dances in the show window. Calming and gorgeous!
February 17, 2012 1 Comment
A big thank you to UPrinting for sponsoring this week’s RSS feed!
UPrinting.com is a leading socially responsible online printing, marketing and technology firm. If you are looking around for printing companies, UPrinting deserves a look! They support a sustainable future by recycling, using non-toxic inks, and offering eco-friendly recycled paper stocks for their letterhead and other printing needs. Don’t have your own design? Check out their collection of letterhead design examples to get inspired and help you come up with ideas for your own letterhead designs!
September 29, 2011 Comments Off