Category — Uncategorized
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 No Comments
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
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 Comments Off
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