In conjunction with COOL HUNTING’s hosted two-week excursion through Japan, our editorial team has partnered with DesignArt Tokyo for the first time. During this global celebration of Japanese design, our pop-up exhibition will draw attention to specific Japanese crafts and the makers keeping the processes behind them alive. All products on site (many produced in limited editions) will be for sale.
“This is a chance for us to honor traditional craftsmanship but also look at it through a different lens, by working with the generation bringing it into the future,” says COOL HUNTING Editor-in-Chief Josh Rubin. “We are seeking to push it further—being a bit provocative and going out of the obvious comfort zones here.”
Craft, in most areas of the world, continues to decline as younger generations move to cities and away from the labor. But some Japanese youth are attempting to revitalize their native crafts. Many of these individuals also recognize that in order to sustain these centuries-old industries, they need to look beyond Japan for markets that will appreciate the heritage and truly understand the value of the final product.
Intrigued by this, we began to work with Hayama-based French designer David Guarino, founder of Zillion. In addition to offering creative direction for the pop-up exhibition as a whole, Guarino has populated it with some of his own items commissioned by us: bikes, skateboards and surfboards that he’s covered in hand-dyed, hand-woven silk ikat fabric. These all blend historic Japanese craft with a global, contemporary vision.
Items from the Japanese island of Amami Oshima are a focus of the exhibition. Known for their specific Tsumugi patterns and historic mud-dyeing processes, the craftspeople of the island once produced the most revered fabric in Japan. Today, the industry is a small percentage of what it once was, but the quality and reputation remain.
Collaborations with two CH favorites, POSTALCO and Anson Calder and the debut of our indigo incense made in partnership with Kazushi Iwasa and KIUN, round out the offerings. The POSTALCO item is an indigo-dyed Farmer’s Felt “wallet” produced in an edition of 150 from paper sourced at Tokushima’s acclaimed Awagami Factory. The Anson Calder collaboration is a shibori-dyed indigo leather passport wallet. Anson Calder’s team partnered with Japan-based leather craftsman Makoto Horii to render the accessory in a leather different from anything they’ve used before. It features a unique dye pattern created by Naoyuki Asai and Sukumo Leather. This limited edition item is likely just the start for product development from the US design brand in Japan.
With respect, reverence and excitement we present this exhibition and all that’s within. We aim to support the craftspeople, all of whom we’ve visited at their factories, farms, workshops and production facilities, and amplify their message as craft struggles to find its place.
Our DesignArt exhibition runs from 11AM to 9PM, 18-31 October at g GIFT and LIFESTYLE, B1F Roppongi Hills 6-10-2 Roppongi, Minato-ku. On site, there are concurrent presentations by product designer Kenji Abe and wood industrial design firm Ao.
Hero image by Josh Rubin