Art / Design, England

Haroshi 心月輪

With precision and crazy skill, Haroshi selects, stacks and bonds old broken skateboards to create timber layers that he uses to unbelievable effects. The variety of colour found naturally in the laminated construction of discarded skateboard decks overlap to make beautiful and very unique ply art-works once carved.

Perhaps the most interesting of Haroshi’s techniques is the detailed mosaic of skateboard ply block-work. Coincidentally, this method has been used throughout Japanese history to create most of Japan’s wooden Great Buddha statues (of course not using skateboards). One particular Buddhist craftsman from the 12th century, Unkei (運慶) would place a crystal ball, called shin gachi rin (心月輪), at the heart of each of his carved buddha forms to give his sculptures their ‘soul’. Haroshi uses a metallic object from one of the broken skateboards; buried deep in the centre of each of his art-works, again giving the objects a heart, and a ‘soul’.

A friend of ours, Brandon Shigeta, a photographer based in LA was lucky enough to shoot Haroshi’s Tokyo studio for Hypebeast in 2010 and I have been waiting since then to see his works in London. Check out PAIN, at StolenSpace Gallery, on Brick Lane, until 3rd November.

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England

Small Publishers

Atsuko was invited by a friend to Conway Hall on Red Lion Square on Saturday to the Small Publishers’ International Book Fair. Without such an invite, we would never have known about such an interesting event. The variety of books was overwhelming and the craft and skill in writing, illustrating and the making of these unique books was admirable; in fact it was quite inspiring graphically.

There were more than 50 publishers exhibiting their works, so this small, interesting hall was packed with people. And books.

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Art / Design, England

Geese + Vessel Collision

At the opening party a couple of weeks ago, Keiko Masumoto explained to me a little of the concept behind her work. Vessels typically have a functional purpose, but there are those that are purely decorative objects, and there is really no need for these to be useful at all. Masumoto-san uses traditional ceramic techniques to make not functional pottery items, but artworks that seem to be an imaginative collision of pots and, in this case, geese.

It’s actually her second show here but the thing I love about this new exhibition at the ICN Gallery, is that the acrylic plinths give the flock of geese / vessels a real feeling of motion and lift. Taking photographs this afternoon in the gallery was really relaxing and watching the light change and shadows appear on the walls was really beautiful. This installation is addictive because the longer you stay, the more you notice tiny details.

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Travel

Be Spoken For

On the first day we really did walk a lot, often with no precise destination in mind. We knew the general areas where we should focus but left a certain amount of chance for the spontaneous and the unexpected. As we navigated the smaller streets we noticed a man through a window, working at a beautiful table and as we watched, he eagerly beckoned us inside.

Although we couldn’t understand each other at all through language, we watched as he carefully joined the shoulder components of a beautiful jacket. His name is Mr Andrea Bozzi, the master tailor for Brioni and the interesting thing is that a suit of this incredible quality not only fits your body size and shape, but also your lifestyle. By using layers allowing inner linings to move independently from the outer fabric in determined areas, a skilled and experienced tailor like Mr Bozzi can construct the suit to hang perfectly, yet move comfortably with your unique personal movements at the same time. Bespoke is the perfect combination of function and style.

Despite no common language, we could share one word. Facebook. Mr Bozzi was keen for us to link with him on Facebook, so I am about to search for him now. Now that was unexpected.

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Art / Design, Travel

Bread Butter Berlin

The rest of the show was incredible. Checkland Kindleysides had designed 4 stands this year so we were extremely busy, especially as the furthest 2 stands were about 1.5km apart! Walking the show was exhausting and since we have been many times before, not as inspiring as it used to be. Having said that we did see some unbelievable things, the floating shoes in Puma were easily the most exciting but sadly the video I took of those is pretty poor quality.

We caught a number of other nice stands though and met many interesting people. The 45rpm stand was predictably beautiful and simple. The 3×1 stand showed craft but in a really premium gallery-like way, which was cool. The fashion show was a little weird but behind the strangeness, there were some lovely pieces, I think all my favourites were from Denham.

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Art / Design, Japan, Travel

Shussai-gama, Tottori

We had been to Shussai-gama before on a previous trip to Shimane and actually bought a couple of very small ceramic items. This time we went specifically to see a small exhibition of Yanagi Sori and in the spirit of wabi sabi picked out a teapot with a slight bubble in the glaze, at a really good price. Wabi sabi comes from Buddhist teachings and is, put simply, beauty found in imperfection or incompleteness. As part of the exhibition, they were showing the techniques used to produce our teapot in a short video and I was fascinated because I had never seen a ceramic item cast in a mold before. I think the result is a nice aesthetic blend of industrial and hand-made. More about this teapot soon as it is still making its way to London (with a few other ceramic items picked out from Shussai-gama. Along with a different teapot, made of iron!).

While we had visited the shop and cafe before, we had never ventured next-door, into the workshops and kiln areas where the products are brought to life by an incredible team of master-potters. It was exciting to walk between the bamboo racks of works in progress, and really interesting to watch people, in their own perfectly formed work-spaces, creating such elegant forms with such ease. In design you often read about ‘perfection through repetition’ and this is most evident in this kind of workshop. If you think about the 10,000 hour rule (they say it takes 10 years of practicing 3 hours a day to become a master in your subject), these guys must far far exceed this level and it shows in the way they work, and in the end results.

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Japan, Travel

Matsue History Museum

The last couple of times that we were in Matsue, we had one eye on an interesting construction project very close to the amazing castle in the centre of town. This time around, the building was complete so we were able to visit and explore the Matsue History Museum and learn more about the origins of the town.

It was Golden Week in Japan while we were in Shimane and so most people were off work celebrating various holidays, one of which being Kodomo-no-hi on the 5th May. The tradition on Children’s Day is to fly fish kites above your house, each kite representing a member of the family. Not only did the history museum have these koinobori flying, but they had live music and green tea in the gardens, served by some very elegant ladies wearing kimono.

Inside a skilled sweet-maker was giving demonstrations of his intricate work and selling fish-shaped sweets among many other amazing creations. Wherever we are in Shimane, we come across fantastic crafts and skilled hands in abundance…

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