Designers of all stripes can get fixated on their own trials and tribulations – when that font just won’t render properly or your Creative Suite keeps on freezing – so it’s salutory to be reminded about designers forced to work in very different circumstances.
The Tohoku region of Japan has long been renowned as a centre of design excellence and craft heritage but it was devastated by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Bt out of this huge hardship, something new and exciting is emerging as Tohoku’s creative talent forge a new identity fusing centuries of tradition with more modern skills and sensibilities.
Next month a selection of the most interesting work is coming to London, including calligraphy watches by artist Yukiko Takahashi, Ryohei Kido’s picnic seats designed for sitting seiza style (inspired by formal Japanese tea ceremonies) and Bitowa’s contemporoary-twist lacquerware.
There will also be a look at the design solutions produced to help meet the needs of the people whose lives were thrown into chaos in 2011, such as quick-assembly benches to help elderly refugees reach washing lines in their emergency accommodation.
Adam Fulford, founder and CEO of Japanese Greats, an organisation which supports business initiatives involving outstanding Japanese products, said: “The Japanese approach to perfectionism is not a matter of self-satisfaction: you do your best to do a job perfectly in the belief that the customer will share an understanding of the effort, experience and expertise that the work demands. It’s a survival strategy.
“People in Japan have found that putting heart and soul into everything they do offers the greatest likelihood of sustainable success in a country where lives have been repeatedly turned upside down by a vast range of human and natural disasters throughout the course of history. One theme of this event will be the nature of “value". And the message from Japan will be that lasting, universal value comes from putting “you” first.”
re:new Tohoku: a Tradition of Perfection Brought to Life for You is at the Asia House from July 11 to July 15.