Future Tradition WAO Exhibit Stops in New York, Paris Next
by Sara Pepitone | Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Few cultures better exemplify attention to detail and aesthetics than Japan. And that stylish mindfulness continues, as evidenced by Future Tradition WAO, an exhibition of modern Japanese craft inspired by and evolved from traditional techniques and materials.
The goal of Craft Renaissance Project WAO (WA = Japan, O = 生 = rebirth), says Yoshiko Ikoma, the fashion and lifestyle journalist who produced the show, is to introduce to everyone the new, pioneering and innovative world of traditional Japanese craftsmanship. She led a team of 14 curators in choosing 150 artists to represent current interpretation of time-honored skills.
Contemporary grid lines merge with traditional floral and aquatic patterns on Amabro’s hand-sized, porcelain mamezara dishes, while the ancient technique of bending wood is met with a relatively modern material, acrylic, in fluorescent pink, green and yellow, for Chanto’s multi-purpose containers. Speaking of whimsical appealing color, four-centuries-old Nambu cast iron, still made by hand, is on display in eye-catching hot pink. Ultra-modern? Perhaps. Or maybe just updated, hyper cherry blossom rouge.
Lacquer art is represented in jewelry, cups and bowls, and you’ll find silk, paper, glass (check out the Spiegelau plus Kutani hand-painted-porcelain-stem combinations), and crystal by Baccarat too. In recognition of their inadvertent contribution to Japanese tea ceremonies (an art dealer-tea master, enamored with imported pieces, ordered a custom tea set in 1904, forever altering the ceremony) the French company created bowls named for their champion: Tojiro Harumi.
Connection and collaboration – direct and inspirational – are main themes here. But in the end it’s Japanese innovation that shines through. Literally. The hourglass-shaped solar-powered lantern made by Kyosemi Corporation – half sphelar (spherical solar panel, as opposed to flat), half LED light – is one of the most clever, useful, sustainable, and attractive products we’ve seen. It stores solar energy by sunny day and exudes it, gently, when flipped over.
The company’s site says they offer “delightful experiences in daily life,” a claim fitting for everything WAO.
Future Tradition WAO, The Craft Renaissance Project, was on display at New York’s Capsule Studio, February 10 to 12. Next stop: Paris, March 4 to 6, Hall des Marechaux, Les Arts Decoratifs, 107, rue de Rivoli.