How to encapsulate a nation through 100 objects? "Japanese Design Today 100," a small but choice touring exhibition sponsored by the Japan Foundation and making its world debut tonight at Perloff Hall at UCLA, attempts to do just that.
The free show begins with classic objects from the 1950s to the 1990s — including the white Toshiba rice cooker from 1955 and the stolid
Western attitudes toward Japanese design have radically shifted in the last 20 years as Westerners have come to prize what the Japanese do well, says Hitoshi Abe, chair of architecture and urban design at UCLA. "Before, originality was more respected, but now, in the world of globalization, how you bridge different ideas has more value." The Japanese have long been adept at incorporating ideas from the West to create hybridized products, he says.
Some selections in the exhibition will be familiar — such as the
Fashion designer Issey Miyake is represented by his No. 1 Dress and Mogura lamp. Both can be folded flat, then unfolded to reveal a form with geometric planes, like a piece of origami. The lamp also is ecological; it's made from a fiber recycled from plastic bottles.
The synthesis of old and new also is embodied in a set of cups coated in titanium. The cups are iridescent and, though incorporating a high-tech material, also have a rough texture, as of rock smoothed by water.
'Japanese Design Today 100' exhibition info