In the western world, a house is looked upon as a wall that separates people from the nature, in order to protect the people. Japanese, on the contrary, see a house as an extension of nature, a place to unify with the nature and live together with it. This philosophy is apparent in the architecture style, and window design is also affected. If a building is a place to unify with nature, a window is where the outside and inside unites and where the nature and people connects. With a window, the greenness of a garden and blooming flowers can be seen and the breeze can blow in the house. In the day, a house becomes bright when sun light shines in and at night, moonlight beams in. There is so much behind window design so that people inside a house can come to enjoy the nature and unify with it further. Marumado is a typical example that embodies this concept. The window, a circular shaped with some pattern, looks like the moon or the universe. Despite the artificial window design, it facilitates the appreciation of the nature. This is a beautiful example that embodies the concept of co-habitation with the nature.
Masako Ban is an internationally successful accessory designer. After working at Ban Shigeru Architects she turned her skills to becoming a graphic designer. In 2001, while in London, self taught she started working with accessory design. Upon returning to Japan, she founded her own company, “acrylic”. In 2005, her first collection was selected for the MOMA Design Store in New York, and in November of the same year, she opened her own store also called acrylic in Tokyo. Her work is characterized by simplicity in design, with the materials and finish also playing a very important part in the final product. As can be seen from the cutting technique used with the acrylic and sponge, she shows appreciation and respect for Japanese craft techniques and prefers to manufacture in Japan. In the future she plans to focus on expanding various collaboration series with Japanese traditional craft artists.
Technology in Japan allows for the production of the world’s thinnest gold foil. It is so advanced that gold alloy the size of a ten-yen coin can be stretched to the size of one tatami (traditional Japanese flooring: approximately 1.6562 m2). The technology for creating foil is no longer limited to just gold, but to all kinds of metals, which allows for a wider variety of colors as well. The ring above is made of acrylic fiber, foiled with sterling silver. The integration of the foil’s thinness with the absolute clarity of the acrylic fiber results in a ring that has ice-like characteristics, it being light, airy and translucent. The thinly stretched silver foil gives this ring the appropriate hard texture and feel that sterling silver should have.
-Sterling silver-foil finish
Design: Masako Saka (acrylic)
Produced by: Ubushina,Yudai Tachikawa
These illumination lamps can be seen at the HOTEL CLASKA, in Meguro district, Tokyo. The ceiling lamp on the left-hand side is made of tin. The design emphasizes the characteristics of tin, transforming it into a drum shape, and using it as a chandelier. Tin is one of the most stable of metals, and because the chandelier is 100% tin, it will not change color. Moreover, the inside of the chandelier gives out a clear luminous color. The lamp on the right-hand side creates a strange impression, because the light reflected by the brass plate seems to be floating. Brass is formed by the synthesis of copper and zinc. The color, the degree of hardness and the durability of the brass changes with the proportion of zinc added to it.
■ HOTEL CLASKA tin chandelier (left) ・ Wire foil lacquering ■ Illumination lamp (right) ・ Brass, glass, lighting apparatus ・ Size W×D×H (mm) 135mm×135mm×300mm ・ Designed (both) by Intentionars
Japan’s representative woodcraft artist, a bearer of Important Intangible Cultural Heritage (designated in 1994). Born on September 1st, 1934, in Yamanaka Town, Ishikawa Prefecture, Kawakita Ryozo got his training in woodturning skills under his father Kawakita Koichi and Himi Kodo, a woodcraft artist. In 1962, selected for Exhibition of Japan Traditional Art Crafts forthe first time, both in 1966 and 1968, awarded President of Japan Art Crafts Association Prize, and successively appointed as an audit commissioner since then, having won a lot of prizes by now.Making effective use of a characteristic of materials such as zelkova, mulberry, maple tree and chestnut, he has given out fresh and excellentworks with brimming modern taste created by his sound skills in wood turning technique that is used to create wooden objects on a rokuro (woodturner) while a cutting knife is used to cut and shape it, together with hisoriginal artifice into which traditional marquetry technique and sujibiki technique are incorporated. His main works are Keyakidukuri-Katamoriki, Jindai-Keyaki-Moriki, Kurogakidukuri-Gousu, Tamatsubaki-Moriki, all of which are excellent works where beauty of the material is maximized.
Hiba Magemono (bent wood) designated as a Traditional Craft Product of Aomori Pref. is a bent woodwork using Hiba (Thujopsis dolabrata), a kind of conifer. It features beautiful curved lines in which the grain of the tree is fully exploited. Hiba is called one of Japan’s Three Fine trees. As it grows slowly resisting cold wind and snow in the north land, its growth rings are elaborate and the wood is solid. In the bending work of Hiba Magemono, a gradual curve is made not by a mold form but by careful rolling of the wood along a round wood called goro. The daily items such as ladles and steaming baskets used to be made but with the change of lifestyle, they have been replaced by plastic products and have gone out of date. At present only one craftsman keeps the tradition supported by the customers who knows “the real things.” Why not use Hiba streaming basket, for example? Different from a stainless product, the wood moderately absorbs moisture and makes your dish far more delicious.
Recently branding has been the focus of increased attention in popular media; now the focus has shifted from organizations to the individual, and we are all expected to have a brand!
Uchinoko-mon is a design agency who design not family insignia but personal insignia or logo. You can have your favorite painter design a special insignia, your unique brand to distinguish you in the modern world. They have various motif designs from plants and animals to portraits. While they inherit the tradition of Japanese insignia, their characteristic designs reflect a more contemporary take on modern aesthetic.
Uchinoko-mon also offer goods featuring personal insignia such as new year's cards or shop cards. You can also order stickers or labels for bottles.
Your personal insignia is the only one in the world. You can enjoy not only seeing it but using it and applying it for your personal branding needs.
Hime Temari ball (Japanese cotton-wound ball) is a traditional craft product of Matsuyama City, Ehime Pref. There is a tradition that a bride takes this ball along when she moves into the groom’s house as a symbol of amicable settlement (maruku osamaru) or healthy growth of a child (marumaru sodatsu) because a Japanese word maru means an orbicular shape. It is also believed to bring in luck, so there is a custom to add up a new one at New Year’s. Woven with colorful and shiny thread, the elegant and beautiful Hime Temari ball is loved by the people not only in Japan but also from abroad, to whom it is known as a “diamond ball.” It is preferred as a Christmas ornament, too. Each ball is carefully crafted by hand, in the hope that every owner of this ball may be happy.