Japanese company Yamaha was founded in 1887 as a piano manufacturer. But after WWII the company leveraged its expertise in metallurgy to branch into motorcycles as well, creating a most diverse product range. Today, the company not only makes musical instruments, bikes and motorcycles, but sporting goods and robots as well. But motorcycles and musical instruments remains their bread and butter and Yamaha’s origins are still reflected today in their logo—a trio of interlocking tuning forks.
In order to stimulate innovation within the diverse company, Yamaha recently embarked upon a design initiative called AH A MAY. The naming was derived from Yamaha spelled backwards. But the project itself was one of cross-dissemination, rather than reversal. They asked their motorcycle designers to create musical instruments. Meanwhile, their musical instrument designers were tasked with coming up with a motorcycle and bicycle.
Before you watch this 5-min performance by Perfume that was filmed last week at SXSW in Austin, keep in mind there was no post-production. In other words, all the special effects you see – what appears to be numerous transitions between a science-fictional virtual reality and a live venue – were done and filmed on the spot. It was even live-broadcasted on YouTube.
Papa’s new maze in progress | photo courtesy @Kya7y
By now you may know the story: Kazuo Nomura toiled away as a janitor during the day. At night he would come home and work on his passion: a large, incredibly detailed maze. After spending 7 years the creation was finally completed in 1983, at which point it was rolled up and stashed away in an attic where it was forgotten about. But when his daughter unearthed it two years ago and posted it to twitter, Mr. Nomura’s creation was pulled out into the spotlight.
As part of their current large-scale exhibition at Miraikan in Tokyo, TeamLab has created a fully-immersive installation of interactive flowers. 2300 flowers, to be exact, are suspended in a room that responds to the movement of visitors as they enter and walk through the forest of floating flowers. As visitors approach, the flowers float above their head, creating a small dome. It’s like the Rain Room, but with vegetation.
Tomo Tanaka, a self-described “miniature artist” has been crafting micro-replica sculptures of food and common household items since 2002. The sculptures are all made to scale – 1/12 of the original, according to the artist – and come to life primarily from clay and epoxy. The replicas are so lifelike that the artist has to include his hand in each photograph for scale and to also show that they’re not real.
One of the many things I love about Japan is the appreciation of all four seasons. Whether its non-stop rain before the hot and humid summer sets in or the summer moon gazing that follows it, there are customary traditions for all seasons. And they’re not just about appreciating Spring, Summer Fall and Winter. It’s a celebration of the passage of time, and of life in general.
Ponyo takes place by the sea and underwater, which explains the predominantly blue hues
Hayao Miyazaki is known for using watercolors to create his art to achieve his specific visual style. And uf you’ve ever seen a Ghibli film genga (a term that literally means “original image” but refers to the refined key frame images created by the film’s animators) one thing that will immediately pop out at you is the rich, lush colors. But it’s easy to forget Miyazaki’s masterful use of color because the films themselves are so engrossing.
Japanese photographer Yuichi Ikehata creates realistic sculptures of human body parts using clay, wire and paper. He then photographs the sculptures and merges them into unrealistic worlds to create Long Term Memory (LTM), an ongoing photographic series that “puts audiences in the ambivalent position of not knowing what is real and what is not.”
Javier Castaño at the Café Central de Málaga in Spain where he works from 8AM
Javier Castaño has worked many jobs: civil engineer, architect, graphic designer. However, after Spain’s economic downturn he began polishing shoes, and does so to this day, at the Café Central de Málaga in Spain. Javier, lovingly known by the locals as a “quirky diabetic,” has always been tech-savvy.
In early 2007, when twitter was just under a year old, Javier joined the fledgling social network under the handle @xabel and was quick to develop the foresight as to what it could become. Seeing that strategically important geographic handles lay unclaimed and vulnerable, Javier tasked himself with grabbing what he could, protecting them, and safely delivering them to their rightful owners when the time came. These included @madrid, @malaga, @rome, @canada, @riodejaneiro, @NY and @japan.
the Balloon Chair by Satoshi Itasaka | click images to enlarge
In the final seen of the 1956 short film ‘The Red Balloon’ the young boy, after being chased by bullies, is rescued by a cluster of balloons. Watching him sitting down and being carried away by the balloons is enough to put a smile on anyone’s face. It was also enough to inspire Japanese designer Satoshi Itasaka to create a range of furniture based on the film.