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Shigeru Ban’s Aspen Art Museum is an Environmental Center and Ski Lift

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all photos by Derek Skalko

Recent Pritzker award winner Shigeru Ban has completed his first Museum in the U.S. The Aspen Art Museum opens to the public today, August 9, in the ski city’s downtown district. The 33,000 sq ft building, shaded by a facade of woven wood strips, represents an extension to the institution’s current facilities. The glitzy city of Aspen, which boasts even its own reality TV series inspired by its wealthy, upper class demographic, might seem like an odd match for Ban, whose humanitarian practice has been called “an architectural iteration of Doctors Without Borders.” But Ban will be quick to point out that “many of the houses around here cost more” than $24 million museum.

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In Installation of 4200 Strings of Rice Grains by Sayaka Ishizuka

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The villagers of Inakadate aren’t the only ones getting creative with their rice. Japanese artist Sayaka Ishizuka is showing new work at Pearl Lam Gallery in Shanghai. “Life Threads” is a walk-in installation consisting of, among other things, 4200 handmade strings of rice grains hung from the ceiling. The work, which took 18 months to complete, looks like rain pouring down onto the earth and being collected in old antique bowls and jars. There is a strong sense of life and interconnectedness throughout the entire piece, given how closely rain, rice and life are intertwined with each other, especially in Asian cultures.

Life Threads is on display through August 23, 2014.

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Algorithmic House by Yuusuke Karasawa Made From Steel and Glass

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photos by koichi torimura | click to enlarge

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Ever wanted to live in an M. C. Escher work of art?  Well this may be the closest you will come. Completed late last year in September, architect Yuusuke Karasawa‘s “S House” is a steel and glass structure of zig-zagging staircases and intricate diagonal intermeshing of floors. And much like the Dutch artist used mathematical algorithms to create his repetitious motifs, Karasawa too used an algorithm, albeit computer-generated, to repeat his many diagonals and, in turn, derive the most optimal living space.

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Artist Creates Miniature Dioramas Every Day Of The Year

tatsuya tanaka miniature calendar

“Waterfall”

Artist Tanaka Tatsuya has been using everyday objects – fruit, vegetables, stationary, toilet paper – he finds around his house to pair with figurines, turning them all into creative, dramatic and sometimes humorous scenes. He’s been doing this every day of the year , for the past 4 years, prompting him to title his project “Miniature Calendar.

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Tsumons | A Wine & Sweets Shop Grows in Fukuoka

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photos by Hiroshi Mizusaki courtesy Case-Real Architects

In Italy and other countries in the West, the pairing of wine and desserts has long-been common practice. But in Japan it’s much more rare with coffee being the dominant post-meal beverage. Attempting to spread the gospel Ms. Katsuki, a self-appointed wine and sweets spokesperson who just opened her first store in Fukuoka.

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Paperclip Pushpins Designed by Yasunori Nagatsuka

Paperclip Pushpins Designed by Yasunori Nagatsuka

Is it a paper clip? Is it a pushpin? It’s both! Japanese designer Yasunori Nagatsuka combined the two unique qualities of a paper clip and a pushpin to create Pinclip, a marvelous new addition to our stationary vocabulary. It allows you to clip together multiple pieces of paper, or just simple hang a photo on your wall, without poking a hole into them.

They were designed for the plus-d brand and are available in sets of 3 for about 600 yen.

Paperclip Pushpins Designed by Yasunori Nagatsuka

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A Ring Inspired By the Words of Poet Shuji Terayama

Shuji Terayama water droplet ring by Hideo Kanbara

Photos by Masafumi Kanno courtesy Hideo Kanbara

The avant-garde filmmaker and poet Shuji Terayama died 31 years ago from liver failure. The infamous figure was known to quote his own poems on stage and in film, creating an interconnectedness that was, in part, responsible for his legacy as an “alchemist of words.” And his words live on, most recently, in the form of an exhibition titled “The Words of Shuji Terayama.” 15 artists and designers were asked to create art pieces inspired by quotes from the enigmatic writer. One of the more intriguing pieces was a ring created by designer Hideo Kanbara.

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Show Your Love For House Hunting in Japan With These Floor Plan T-shirts

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If you’ve ever been in the market for an apartment (apaato) or single-family home (ikkodate) in Japan, you’re most certainly familiar with these images. They’re real estate floor plans that you’ll typically see plastered on the windows of real estate agent offices. House hunting can be stressful in any country but especially Japan, where cultural intricacies like key money (reikin) can be a drain on ones psyche and wallet.

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Goldfish Bubble Wrap by Daisuke Akiyama

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Inspired by watching a single goldfish swimming around in a goldfish bowl, Japanese designer Daisuke Akiyama came up with a rather ingenious product: goldfish bubble wrap. By reinventing the standard packaging material, Akiyama – part of the design studio HAFT DESIGN – created the subtle yet magical illusion of miniature goldfish swimming around in each bubble. “We usually have an inclination to pop bubble wrap,” says Akiyama. “But by printing goldfish I’ve made it psychologically more difficult to pop.”

Unfortunately, it’s only a prototype and isn’t available for purchase. But word has it that Akiyama is working on commercializing his novel idea. It would make the perfect summer present, or at least the perfect wrapping. (via notcot)

The Narrative World of Ghibli Art Director Nizo Yamamoto

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left: “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time” (2006) | right: “Kawa no hikari” (2009)

Ghibli Art Director Nizo Yamamoto

Background from “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time” (2006)

“A picture is worth a thousand words,” is actually an advertising slogan created by an American businessman, but falsely attributed as an old Asian proverb “so that people would take it seriously.” But despite its fraudulent foundings, the words rings true and, most recently, I’ve found myself identifying them with the work of illustrator and art director Nizo Yamamoto.

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