Posts tagged with "Japan":

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Tokyo Store Changes with Fashion Trends

Placed within Tokyo’s Daikanayama district, architect Arthur Casas has designed a flagship store to appear completely as an opaque box. As fashion trends change, so does the store’s appearance. The exterior walls boast a bold graphic design that will surely be swapped out for the next season’s trends. Created to display Brazilian designer Alexandre Herchcovitch’s clothing designs, the box nods to the idea of pedestrian curiosity and does not reveal its entire contents even when opened. The multi-level box has been described as “a wrapped up present just waiting to be opened.” Completed in 2007, the approximately 1,076 square-foot store’s facade embraces flashy prints and daring designs, but features surprisingly neutral interior materials in order to emphasize the details found in Herchcovitch's designs. The store contains an exhibition space in addition to storage space at the mezzanine level and a basement.  
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Culture at Risk: World Monuments Fund Watch List Includes Palisades, FLW's Taliesin

The World Monuments Fund has announced its 2014 Watch List for cultural sites at risk by changes in economy, society, and politics within their respective countries and disrepair due to natural forces. For 2014, the Monument Watch List, compiled and released every two years since 1996, has cited 67 heritage risks in 41 countries and territories around the world. These sites range from Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1911-built Taliesin home in Wisconsin, submissive to elements of weathering, to the tree-lined Palisades cliffs in New York and New Jersey, jeopardized by corporate construction plans, to all of the cultural sites of Syria, risked by current war conflict. Taliesin, Spring Green, Wisconsin The World Monuments Fund explains:
The low-lying structures of Taliesin seem in harmony with the rugged landscape, neither feature imposing upon the other. But the forces of nature, including exposure to the elements over time, have put the complex at risk. Taliesin was included on the 2010 Watch to draw attention to these issues, and now the Hillside Theater, the most public of the spaces at Taliesin, is suffering from water infiltration, perimeter drainage issues, a failing roof, and other problems with the building envelope. Due to the experimental nature of the design and materials used to construct Taliesin, the structures face special conservation challenges requiring extensive research and innovative solutions.
Cultural Heritage Sites of Syria The World Monuments Fund explains:
Escalating violence in Syria since 2011 has had devastating effects on the country’s cultural heritage. From the ancient souk, or marketplace, in Aleppo, to the iconic Crac des Chevaliers—two castles that were built between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries as regional fortifications during the Crusades—to Qal’at al-Mudiq, an archaeological tell that forms part of the classical city of Apamea, the destruction of Syria’s most significant and symbolic sites is of urgent and primary concern, with irreversible implications for the country’s architectural legacy.
The Cloisters and the Palisades, New York and New Jersey The World Monuments Fund explains:
The Cloisters Museum itself houses the Metropolitan Museum of Art's collection of European medieval art and incorporates monastic architectural elements in its design including stone and stained-glass panels for the doors, and windows. Since its opening in 1938, a defining feature of visiting the Cloisters is an extraordinary vista across the Hudson River to the Palisades. Plans are underway to construct a corporate headquarters and a residential complex on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River, modifying zoning legislation to accommodate towers that rise above the once protected tree line of the Palisades. ... An appeal is underway, and it is hoped that inclusion on the Watch will raise awareness about the loss to future generations posed by this development and others that may follow.
East Japan Earthquake Heritage Sites After a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and related tsunami hit Japan on March 11, 2011, the World Monuments Fund set the heritage sites of the coastal regions of Tohoku and Kanto on its 2012 Watch List. Since then, the WMF collaborated with the Foundation for Cultural Heritage and Art Research to save over 700 national monuments affected by the disaster. Several historic architectural structures were damaged or destroyed by the power of the quake. Although progress has been made, the landmarks which are important to the tourism of the region, are still at risk, in need of grants for continued restoration. Güell Pavilions and Garden, Barcelona, Spain The World Monuments Fund explains:
After Güell's death the estate was converted into a palace for the Spanish Royal Family. The site was later acquired by the University of Barcelona during its expansion into this area in the 1950s, and it now forms part of the Avinguda Diagonal campus of the university. Public access to the garden has been limited, but a new master plan prepared by the university and the city's Municipal Institute of Urban Landscape and Quality of Life provides for improved access to the site by visitors and expanded use for university events. Repairs to the structures are necessary, and a project to rehabilitate the roof of the stable is already underway with funding from the Spanish Ministry of Education. More resources are needed to implement this well-conceived plan for the benefit of all citizens of Barcelona, and the millions who visit this enchanting city every year.
Elevators of Valparaíso, Valparaíso, Chile The World Monuments Fund explains:
The Elevators of Valparaíso have been included on the 2014 Watch to emphasize the continuing need for the restoration of the city’s most picturesque feature and an important vehicle for social interaction. The elevators have served as the main method of transportation along the city’s steep topography and were fundamental to its urban development. They symbolize Valparaíso’s preeminence as a maritime center, a position it lost after the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914. Of the 31 original elevators, only 15 remain, of which just 7 are operational. The loss of these vital transit arteries has had negative impacts on the city. A plan unifying community, municipal, and private entities in a collective effort to protect and maintain the elevators is needed to ensure their long-term survival and the revitalization of important neighborhoods in Valparaíso.
Cultural Heritage Sites of Mali Since armed conflicts began in Mali in 2012, the country’s heritage sites have been endangered and have suffered some damage. According to the WMF, “nine of the sixteen mausoleums within the World Heritage Site boundaries of Timbuktu were destroyed by rebel forces.” And now, troops are advancing to encroach on the Bandiagara Escarpment in Dogon country and the natural material architectural structures there. Christ Church at Zanzibar, Tanzania The World Monuments Fund explains:
Stone Town has a number of important sites that together have created a vibrant tourist industry, but sectarian conflict, lack of financial resources, and political issues pose ongoing challenges to implementing restoration projects on many of its sites. Nevertheless, plans are under development for formal training and capacity-building programs at Christ Church Cathedral, and there are strong networks in place for local stewardship of the site. Christ Church Cathedral and the Former Slave Market Site is included on the 2014 World Monuments Watch to promote its conservation and its role in a broader revitalization strategy for Stone Town; one that will be compelling to the international community but will also support Zanzibari citizens and their local economy.
Battersea Power Station, London, United Kingdom The World Monuments Fund explains:
Since 1983, Battersea Power Station has been closed to the public, marking a thirty-year period of abandonment and lack of appropriate maintenance. The station was first listed on the Watch in 2004, and its impending demolition was averted. Ten years later, the Power Station’s future is once again in question. Located on prime London real estate, the site is slated for imminent redevelopment. There is concern that current plans do not adequately protect the iconic chimneys and the important viewsheds of the power station’s silhouette. The local community is engaged and vested in the future of their swathe of London, and the international community recognizes the cultural significance of this twentieth-century icon. Inclusion on the Watch seeks to reinvigorate and contribute to conversations regarding the long-term stewardship of Battersea Power Station.
The complete list by country is as follows: Argentina · Church and Monastery of St. Catherine of Siena, Buenos Aires Armenia · Bardzrakash St. Gregory Monastery, Dsegh, Lori Province Belgium · Collegiale Sainte-Croix de Liege, Liege Brazil · Serra da Moeda, Minas Gerais Chile · Elevators of Alparaíso, Valparaíso · Palacio La Alhambra, Santiago China · Pokfulam Village, Hong Kong Colombia · Ancient Ridged Fields of the San Jorge River Floodplain, Córdoba and Sucre Departments Comoros · Funi Aziri Bangwe, Ikoni, Grande Comore Ecuador · Remigio Crespo Toral Museum, Cuenca, Azuay Province Egypt · Bayt-Al-Razzaz, Cairo Ethiopia · Yemrehanna Kristos, Amhara Region France · Churches of Saint-Merri and Notre-Dame-de-Lorette, Paris Germany · Gaslight and Gas Lamps of Berlin, Berlin Guatemala · Uaxactun, Petén Department Guyana · Georgetown City Hall, Georgetown India · Historic City of Bidar, Karnataka · House of Shaikh Salim Chishti, Fatehpur Sikri, Agra, Uttar Pradesh · Juna Mahal, Dungarpur, Rajasthan Indonesia · Ngada Villages of Flores, Flores, Nusa Tenggara · Peceren and Dokan, Karo District, North Sumatra · Trowulan, Mojokerto, East Java Iraq · Khinnis Reliefs, Kurdistan Region Italy · Farnese Aviaries, Rome · Historic Center of L'Aquila, L'Aquila, Abruzzo · Muro Dei Francesi, Ciampino, Province of Rome, Lazio · Venice, Venice, Veneto Japan · East Japan Earthquake Heritage Sites, Tohoku and Kanto Regions · Sanro-Den of Sukunahikona Shrine, Ozu, Ehime Prefecture, Shikoku Jordan · Damiya Dolmen Field, Damiya, Jordan Valley Kenya · Lamu Old Town, Lamu Macedonia · Monastery of Poloshko, Kavadarci Municipality Mali · Cultural Heritage Sites of Mali Mexico · Fundidora Park, Monterrey, Nuevo León · Retablos de los Altos de Chiapas, San Cristóbal de las Casas and Teopisca, Chiapas Mozambique · Island of Mozambique, Napula Province Myanbar · Yangon Historic City Center, Yangon Nigeria · Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove, Osogbo, Osun State Pakistan · Shikarpoor Historic City Center, Shikarpoor Municipality Palestinian Territory · Ancient Irrigated Terraces of Battir, Bethlehem Governorate, West Bank Peru · Capilla de la Virgen Concebida de Kuchuhuasi, Quispicanchi, Cusco · Cerro Sechín, Casma, Ancash · Chan Chan, Trujilli, La Libertad · Gran Pajatén, Mariscal Céceres, San Martín Portugal · Fort of Graça, Elvas, Alentjo · Joanine Library of the University of Coimbra, Coimbra Romania · Great Synagogue of Iasi, Iasi · Wooden Churches of Northern Oltenia and Southern Transylvania, Northern Oltenia and Southern Transylvania Singapore · Bukit Brown Spain · Güell Pavilions and Garden, Barcelona · Iglesia Parroquial San Pedro Apóstol, Buenache de Alarcón, Cuenca Syria · Cultural Heritage Sites of Syria Tanzania · Christ Church Cathedral, Zanzibar, Stone Town, Zanzibar · Dar es Salaam Historic Center, Dar es Salaam · House of Wonders and Palace Museum, Stone Town, Zanzibar Turkey · Cathedral of Mren, Digor, Kars United Kingdom · Battersea Power Station, London · Deptform Dockyard and Sayes Court Garden, London · Grimsby Ice Factory and Kasbah, Grimsby, Lincolnshire · Sulgrave Manor, Sulgrave, Northamptonshire United States · Chinati Foundation, Marfa, Texas · George Najashima House, Studio, and Workshop, Bucks County, Pennsylvania · Henry Klumb House, San Juan, Puerto Rico · Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, St. Louis, Missouri · Taliesin, Spring Green, Wisconsin · The Cloisters and Palisades, New York and New Jersey Venezuela · Ciudad Universitaria de Caracas, Caracas
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Japanese Artist Unzips Our Perception of Reality with New Installation

Since long before Adolf Loos published his seminal Principles of Cladding, architects have pondered the relationship between the surfaces of our environment and the secrets that lie beneath them. With his new installation at the Rokko Meets Art festival in Japan, street artist Jun Kitagawa has playfully un-zipped our curiosity. Through a series of giant, oversized zippers grafted onto the surfaces of everyday life, Kitagawa offers a glimpse into the world that lies only a few inches beyond our perception. Painted on walls, cutting through a house, and traversing a lake, Kitagawa’s giant zippers allow passersby to whimsically interact with their surroundings. [H/T Spoon & Tamago]
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19 Sites Inscribed to UNESCO World Heritage List

At its 37th session held from June 16 to 27, 2013 in Phnom Pehnh and Siem Reap-Angkor, Cambodia, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee added 19 sites to the World Heritage List. The new additions bring the list to 981 noteworthy destinations. To be included on the World Heritage List, sites must be of exceptional universal significance and satisfy at least one out of ten selection criteria, which are frequently improved by the Committee to reflect the advancement of the World Heritage notion itself. The following cultural sites have been inscribed on the World Heritage List. · Al Zubarah Archaeological Site, Qatar · Ancient City of Tauric Chersonese and its Chora, Ukraine · Bergpark Wilhemshöhe, Germany · Cultural Landscape of Honghe Hani Rice Terraces, China · Fujisan, Japan · Golestan Palace, Iran · Hill Forts of Rajasthan, India · Historic Centre of Agadez, Niger · Historic Monuments and Sites in Kaesong, Korea · Levuka Historical Port Town, Fiji · Medici Villas and Gardens in Tuscany, Italy · Red Bay Basque Whaling Station, Canada · University of Coimbra – Alta and Sofia, Portugal · Wooden Tserkvas of the Carpathian Region, Poland & Ukraine · El Pinacate and Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve, Mexico · Mount Etna, Italy · Namib Sand Sea, Namibia · Tajik National Park, Tajikistan · Xinjiang Tianshan, China
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Zaha Hadid Triumphs in New National Stadium Japan Competition

Zaha Hadid wins again! Following a star-studded design competition, the Japanese Sports Council has announced Hadid as the winner of the New National Stadium in Japan, beating out Toyo Ito, SANAA, Populous, UN Studio among others and taking home a $250,000 prize. All-star designer of London's 2012 Aquatics Center for the summer Olympics and the first female to ever win the Pritzker Architecture prize, Hadid continues her legacy with this new stadium in Tokyo. Estimated to cost around $1.6 billion, the venue will seat 80,000 visitors and sport a retractable roof. Japanese architect and jury chair, Tadao Andao, commented on Hadid's fluid design as a complement to the crowded Tokyo landscape as well as being environmentally efficient and able to fit the strict completion deadline. "It has dynamism, which is most essential to sport and its streamlined shape fits its internal space. It is also new in terms of structural technology," Ando told the AFP. The stadium's smooth and sinuous white curves fall in line with Hadid's futuristic style and should play a unique addition to the city's terrain. The new structure replaces the existing 54,000-seat national stadium that featured prominently in Japan's 1964 Olympics. The new stadium will have a similar capacity as Beijing's Olympic "Bird's Nest" stadium—91,000 seats—and will feature an all-weather roof. Construction is set to begin in 2015 with a completion scheduled in 2018. Hadid's new stadium design will play host to the Rugby World Cup in 2019 and may even hold the 2020 Summer Olympics should Tokyo be granted its request to host them.
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Finalists Named for Japan's Massive New National Stadium

Eleven finalists including Zaha Hadid, Toyo Ito, SANAA, and UN Studio have been announced for a major new stadium project in Japan. Tadao Ando, jury chair for the Japan Sports Council competition, revealed the contending designs for the New National Stadium, narrowing the field from the original 46 entries. First, second, and third place prizes were secretly selected on Wednesday, November 7th, but the winners won't be named until a ceremony is held later this month. While we anxiously await the final announcement, take a look at the proposed stadium designs by each team. Scheduled for completion in 2018, the stadium is already slated to host the 2019 Rugby World Cup and will also be offered as a site for the FIFA World Cup, the IAAF World Championships, and a range of entertainment events. The stadium could even play host to the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics if Japan is chosen as their location.
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Studio SUMO's Mizuta Museum

A sheltering facade wraps a new home for a university’s art collection

The Mizuta Museum of Art is building a new home for its important collection of Ukiyo-e, or Japanese woodcuts, on the Josai University campus in Sakado, Japan, just north of Tokyo. Scheduled to open on December 9, the museum was designed by New York-based Studio SUMO, who also completed the university’s School of Management in 2006. The Mizuta project began as a retrofit of two floors in an existing building, but seismic, mechanical system, and floor height requirements led SUMO partners Sunil Bald and Yolande Daniels to propose designs for a new two-story museum building on campus.
  • Fabricator Minato Kenzai (precast concrete)
  • Architect Studio SUMO
  • Location Sakado, Japan
  • Status December 2011 completion
  • Materials Precast concrete
  • Process Vectorworks, concrete casting
The university provided little in the way of programmatic requirements for the building. Bald said this approach is common in Japan. “It’s more common for the client to say, ‘Please give us a building and we’ll figure out how to use it,’” he said. “Statement buildings are used more and more to attract students, because it’s an aging population.” However, the museum was concerned with protecting its woodcut collection from temperature fluctuations and did not want the gallery’s exterior walls to be hit by the sun. Another concern was how to provide loading and entry access without the use of a freight elevator. The SUMO team solved both problems with two ramps: One leading up to two galleries that will house the permanent collection and visiting exhibitions by local artists and craftspeople, and another that leads down to a campus information center, a natural use for the ground-level space because the museum sits close to the campus entrance. In addition to eliminating the need for a freight elevator, the ramps will help create an environmental buffer for the galleries. They are sheltered, but not entirely enclosed, by a facade of 52 L-shaped precast concrete panels, which clip onto the primary cast-in-place concrete structure. Bald said that the involvement of Japanese construction company Obayashi Global, who has a longstanding relationship with the campus, allowed the team to approach Minato Kenzai, a precast company in the Ibaraki prefecture and convince them to take on the small, experimental project. “For an architect like us, a small firm from another country, to be able to do a project that is materially and tectonically intense might be unusual in any other place or through any other mechanism than the one we are working with in Japan, so we feel very lucky,” he said. Each precast panel is different, but all were cast from a single mold at the rate of one panel every other day for nearly four months, then shipped nearly 100 miles to the campus and installed over the course of three days. Panels are approximately 4 feet wide and less than 10 inches thick; the longest vertical panel measures 28 feet and the longest horizontal pieces are nearly 11 feet. In order to create panels with two surfaces that could be exposed, the fabricator cast them on their sides, an unusual technique that required complicated steel formwork and made it difficult to prevent air bubbles from forming. The design also required 1-foot-wide slots to be blocked out along panel seam lines, creating slits in the facade that allow light and ventilation into the enclosed passageways. The spaces will be lit with overhead LEDs and LED strands set into cast channels between panels. Slabs are coated with a pigmented stain, to conceal the mottling characteristic of precast concrete.
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Quick Clicks> Airy Museum, Printed Organs, Supermarket Scents, & Going Oil Free

Open to the Elements. A recent collaboration between architect Ryue Nishizawa and artist Rei Naito produced an elegantly curved open-air art museum. Located in Takamatsu, Japan, the Teshima Art Museum is built from concrete and gently mirrors the hilly topography it sits upon. More info at ArchDaily. Printed Organs. Three-dimensional printing sure is popular. We recently spotlighted the use of printing technology to create chocolates and solar cells, and now, 3D printing is crossing into the realm of medicine. The Wall Street Journal highlights technology that may soon enable printing of self-derived organs—think kidneys. While medical researchers have successfully “grown” organs through 3D printing, they are only structural and not yet functional, but scientists believe a breakthrough is nigh. Olfactory Aisles. In a strange effort to boost sales, Brooklyn supermarket chain, NetCost Market, is now infusing its store aisles with food scents, such as strawberry in the fruit section and smoky bacon in the meat section, according to PSFK. While scenting clothing stores and movie theaters has been commonplace for a little while now, NetCost's “food perfume” is taking olfactory branding to the next level. Transport without Oil. The upcoming issue of Colors, a magazine published by clothing retailer, United Colors of Benetton, will center on transportation in a future without oil. Opening up submissions to the public, the Benetton website Colors Lab invited web users to upload artwork, photography, designs, and stories, envisioning new possibilities for transportation.
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Fly Denari Airlines

Having worked there on and off for the last 25 years Neil Denari is huge in Japan. His latest achievement in the country was just unveiled yesterday: the complete design for Japan's first ever low-cost regional airline, called Peach. The airline, which will be based in Osaka, will fly within about an hour of that airport to locations in Japan, China, Korea and elsewhere in Asia. Its first flights will be next spring. The Peach, Denari explained, is a positive symbol in several Asian cultures, representing, among other things, longevity and fertility. Denari won the competition for the project back in January and his firm, Neil M Denari Architects, worked on the design from then until April. The airline’s planes, outfitted in various shades of purple along with an abstracted peach emblem, are meant to cater to a young demographic in its 20s and 30s, said Denari. Inside the planes will have purple and grey seats, purple strips on overhead bins, grey rugs with purple specks and purple partitions. The “Peach” lettering will have a stencil effect reminiscent of the writing on a fruit box. “It’s pretty vivid. It wouldn’t have worked if they would have tried to do something conservative to make it so broad that there was no style,” said Denari, vaguely referring to certain low cost airlines in the U.S. “And it needed to be cool and cute, but not Hello Kitty cute.” And why purple if the name of the airline is Peach? “There’s nothing enigmatic or curious about that,” said Denari, of a more literal peach palette. “They got that.” Over his years in Japan Denari has taught, designed an exhibition, done brand consulting, and designed several banks for Mitsubishi United Financial Group. There’s a chance he may also design the lounge for the airline at Konsai Airport in Osaka. “It’s a culture of strong visual impressions,” said Denari of Japan. “The expectations for how design and media work to transform experience are very sophisticated.” See the video of the airline's unveiling here.  
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Molo′s Nebuta House Ribbon Screen

Fabrikator Brought to you by: 

Steel takes on a paper-like appearance at Aomori’s new cultural center, creating a dynamic backdrop for life on the Japanese city’s waterfront.

Nearly a decade ago, Vancouver-based design and production studio Molo Design won an international competition for its design of a housing and community project in Aomori, Japan. As firm founders Stephanie Forsythe and Todd MacAllen worked with the City of Aomori in the years following the competition, the design evolved into that of a cultural center celebrating the city’s yearly Nebuta festival, during which huge mythical creatures made of wood, wire, paper, and lights are paraded through the streets. Though millions attend the festival every August, the cultural center would provide an opportunity for more visitors to witness their creation throughout the year.
  • Fabricator Molo Design
  • Designer Molo Design
  • Location Aomori, Japan
  • Completion Date January 2011
  • Material powder-coated steel
  • Process scale modeling, hand controlled metal forming
Inspired by the ever-changing shadows in the beech tree forests of Northern Japan, in addition to 19th-century artist Ando Hiroshige’s woodblock prints and the Japanese convention of using screens to blur boundaries between indoors and out, the team began to create abstract lines, which then became paper ribbons. Molo’s product line product line of collapsible, modular walls, furniture, and lighting elements are made of kraft paper, and they began to manipulate that material into models of the screen as a way to learn how they might create the same shapes with steel. The team established a set of rules for the ribbon’s forms, defining how they would twist and provide directional light and views, then created construction drawings by photographing their final model; none of the design was digitally produced. The steel was machined in a local shop and powder coated a deep red color that was inspired by locally-made lacquered dishes. Once they arrived on site, the 40-foot pieces were attached to a sub-frame at four points and manually adjusted to achieve a look of randomness. Their positioning allows the screen to be transparent at some angles and opaque at others, lending to the sense that it is moving. The Nebuta house was undamaged by Japan’s March 11 earthquake and was able to serve as a temporary shelter for residents from other damaged areas of the Aomori Prefecture. To help recovery efforts, Molo created a special limited edition of its hobo luminaria, an LED-lit shoulder tote, hand-painted with the Japanese sun disk. All proceeds will benefit Architecture for Humanity.
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Quick Clicks> Coops, Help Japan, Sidewalk Dining, and Rooftops

Coop Moderne. Urban agriculture is all the rage lately, and with the backyard gardens come the chickens. Jetson Green offers a few examples of high-design chicken coops made of reclaimed materials by Studio H, a design-build program for high-school students in North Carolina. Aid. Architecture for Humanity is working on plans to provide relief to victims of the Sendai earthquake and tsunami. The post-disaster reconstruction group is asking for donations now to they can build later. If you would like to support Japan more immediately, the Japanese Red Cross Society is also a good choice. Al Fresco Forward. As the weather begins to warm, the New York DOT has announced that it's pop-up cafe program is moving forward. Modeled after pop-up sidewalk cafes in San Francisco and other cities, New York tried out its first model in the Financial District last year. The planter-lined sidewalk extensions project six feet into the street and are paid for by sponsoring businesses. The Post has the list of DOT-approved restaurants in Soho, the Village, and elsewhere. Rooftop Remix. Web Urbanist put together a collection modern rooftop additions from around the world by the likes of MVRDV, Coop Himmelb(l)au, and others. As Web Urbanist points out, the juxtapositions of the additions against their host structures is quite striking. (Via Planetizen.)
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Turning to the Japanese

If you happen to be a fan of Kurt Anderson's wonderful radio show Studio 360, perhaps you tuned in this weekend for the trip to Japan, a fascinating account of a place that seems at once otherworldly and yet so much like our own. If not, dare we suggest you tune in for the whole hour. Or, at the very least, consider the wonderful segment on Japanese design. In it, Anderson interviews architectural master Shigeru Ban and the up-and-coming couple behind Atelier Bow-Wow, as well as a fashion designer and a poet. At issue is that undeniable "Japanese-ness" that undergirds their work and that of their country, how it is shaped by their tiny, overcrowded island and, more recently and perhaps importantly, the economic collapse of the 1990s.