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It was standing room only at the Surface magazine Design Dialogue held at Hollywood & Highland where more than 100 designers, architects, artists and other creatives came to hear Kenya Hara. The art director for Japanese product brand Muji, and chief creative director for the Japan House project, spoke about Japan House Los Angeles’s latest exhibition Takeo Paper Show: SUBTLE.
The April 13th conversation was helmed by Spencer Bailey, editor-in-chief of Surface who skillfully queried Hara on his design philosophy, and thoughts on SUBTLE, a contemporary take on fine papers, uniquely different from shows themed on traditional Japanese washi paper.
“So, why paper?” asked Bailey. “[In Japan], while paper is used as a method of communication, it is constantly found in common spaces such as in Japanese architecture, [everyday] objects, and even clothing…So I wanted to capture that sense of culture in the exhibition itself,” he explained. “[The exhibition] is not saying that paper itself is subtle,” he went on to add. “The whiteness, the tension, and the purity that paper holds is a very delicate thing, and it brings the delicate nature out of people.” The theme SUBTLE is about awakening one’s senses, he explained further. When we touch and feel paper, our senses become subtly and elaborately sharpened.
The show contains 28 exhibits of new and existing works, broadly divided into three parts. The first, and most impactful, contains works designed and produced by 15 creators working in Japan. Among those is Hara himself who created “Chocolate’s Hats,” – the perfect hats for the finest, most subtly formed chocolates. The tiny, but robust tracing paper structures were made using laser cutting technology, which when revealed, reminded him of the plankton he had seen in microscopes during his grade-school science class. “Laser cutting technology has made this one possible,” he has explained
The use of “paper, design and technology” is the underlying theme of the Takeo Paper Show, held annually since 1965 by Takeo Co., Ltd. The SUBTLE exhibition was organized by the company with wide input from Kenya Hara and other creators. The Design Dialogue was co-sponsored by Surface and Japan House Los Angeles.
Please enjoy the Surface Design Dialogue highlight video:
Diego Aldabaldetrecu for Surface Media