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HAPPENINGText: Alma Reyes

From the outbreak of the war in the 1930s-40s, designers were compelled to focus on material safety and experimentation. This immensely permeated the excellent craftsmanship of Scandinavian design, as seen in Alvar Aalto’s Alvar Aalto Collection Vase 160mm Clear (1936), Marimekko founder Armi Ratia’s Tiiliskivi (1952), Lego founder Ole Kirk Christiansen’s LEGO®bricks (1949), Finn Juhl’s FJ Bowl (1951), and Faye Toogood’s (by Driade, Italy) colorful plump chairs Roly Poly (2018), among many others.

View of Gallery 2 with Roly Poly, 2018, Faye Toogood, Driade, Italy, Photo: Keizo Kioku

Affluence especially blossomed in the American society during the 1950s, which further propelled industrialization of products. However, from the 1960s-70s, the heyday of pop culture intensified attacks on Modernism, and emphasized individual preference. From the UK, Jasper Morrison carried on this philosophy through the 1980s-90s, recontextualizing forms and materials.

View of Gallery 2, Photo: Keizo Kioku

The red tubular steel Drinking Man’s Chair shows discs at the end of each arm intended to be used as drinks holders. Morrison later changed the name to Thinking Man’s Chair (1988) to function for deep contemplation. Another popular Morrison product is the Moon Teapot (1997) from his Moon Dinnerware Collection. The softly rounded geometric handles blend seamlessly with classic curves.

View of Gallery 1 with LAMPAS®, 1958, Fumio Sasa, Photo: Keizo Kioku

Japanese modernism evolved as well, from architectural symbolism by Kenzo Tange, Kiyonori Kikutake and Arata Isozaki, to commercial interiors of Shiro Kuramata and Shigeru Uchida. Alongside these outstanding names, George Nakashima’s Grass-Seated Chair (1944), Fumio Sasa’s LAMPAS® (1958), Isamu Kenmochi’s Rattan Chair C-3160 (1960), Jozaburo Kimura’s Super Cub Honda motorbike (1958), and the country’s father of modern design Sori Yanagi and his kitchen utensils set (Grill Pan without stainless lid 2002; Ladle, Fork Ladle, Skimmer, Butter Beater 1997), among others, represent the immense contribution of Japanese aesthetics in design innovation.

Dynamically curated with actual pieces and enlarged photo panels, “The Original” is one of the most comprehensive exhibitions on the history and development of design that absolutely invigorates all creators of future generations.

“The Original” Directed by Takahiro Tsuchida
Date: March 3rd – June 25th, 2023
Opening Hours: 10:00 – 19:00 (Entrance until 18:30)
Closed on Tuesdays
Place: 21_21 DESIGN SIGHT Gallery 1 & 2
Address: 9-7-6 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Admission: General ¥1,400 / University Students ¥800 / High School Students ¥500 / Junior High School Students and under may enter for free
Tel: +81 3 3475 2121

Text: Alma Reyes
Photos: Alma Reyes
Additional Photos: © Keizo Kioku, Courtesy of 21_21 DESIGN SIGHT

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