Nikon F. Nikon Corporation, 1959
You can learn a lot about a culture by observing the objects it produces, and that is the point of the Japanese Design Today 100 exhibition, running until January 18 at Centre de design de l'UQAM in Montreal. Produced by the Japan Foundation, the exhibition offers visitors a "contemporary archaeology" experience that provides insight into the history, traditions and lifestyle of Japanese society.
Everyday objects, such as the iconic Kikkoman soy sauce bottle, have been selected for the quality of their execution and their uniquely Japanese characteristics."The 100 objects assembled here are drawn both from popular culture and sophisticated design. Not all of them exhibit the clean lines of modern design, and the form of several is more typical of traditional culture. This variation reflects the trends in Japanese design today," says curator Hiroshi Kashiwagi, Professor at the Musashino Art University in Tokyo.
Eighty-nine of the items on display are objects in daily use, while the other 11 are examples of the finest product design of recent decades. Some of the objects reflect global design trends, many bear traces of a respect for Japanese manufacturing traditions, and others come from popular culture. The exhibition previously showed in Los Angeles and Toronto.
I've started a Japanese Design board on Pinterest and I have a particular fondness for their approach to packaging:
Do you recognise the Japanese sensibilities in these designs?
Kikkoman bottle, 15o ml. Kikkoman Corporation, 1961.
Dress. Miyake Design Studio, 2010
Lampe In-ei Miyake (Mogura). Miyake Design Studio, 2010
Athlete's prosthetic. Beautiful Prosthetics Project (Yamanaka Laboratory, The University of Tokyo; Yamanaka Design Laboratory, Keio University), in cooperation with Tetsudou Kousaikai (Prosthesis and Orthodic Device Support Center) and Imasen Engineering Corporation, 2008
Bottle openers. Frame, Crescent and Eclipse, Futagami Co., Ltd., 2009
Photo credit: © The Japan Foundation.