No.78 [VISIT] Analysis of Made in Japan design

The current exhibition invites visitors to discover the creative process of the greatest Japanese designers.


A must-see exhibition in the magnificent 21_21 Design Sight museum created by ANDO Tadao.

In the early 2000s Roppongi, in the heart of Tokyo, transformed its image into a trendy neighbourhood attracting celebrities and foreigners. Following its urban renewal project launched in 1995, it became the true heart of the capital, thanks to large commercial developments like the Roppongi Hills complex, which is a mix of residential and business space, as well as the establishment of important museums such as the National Art Centre, Tokyo. Another example is 21_21 Design Sight, the first museum dedicated to design. It opened in 2007 and is unobtrusively situated in the garden of Tokyo midtown, another mixed-use development. Until 8th march, it is hosting an outstanding exhibition gathering together the work of 26 leading personalities in the fields of design, architecture and contemporary art who are all members of the Japan Design Committee, which was founded in 1953 in order to highlight the role of design. Entitled Secret Source of Inspiration: Designers’ Hidden Sketches and Mockups, it is not a display of finished works, but invites visitors to discover the participants creative process, and how their work has developed over time. At the entrance to the exhibition, period posters reflecting each era are on display. The story of the collective includes names of former members such as TANGeKenzo, legendary OKAmOTO Taro, and MIYAKE Issey. In an adjacent room, videos show how and where these artists worked on their creations. After this 10-minute introduction, you move on to the core exhibit in the main exhibition room where notebooks and mockups of these 26 renowned creatives are exhibited in perfectly lined up glass-topped display tables. It is a unique opportunity to see the creative process used to produce the finished article. For many, the section devoted to mATSUNAGA Shin will be the most familiar. It lets us examine much of his work at close hand, including the Bandai logo and the graphic design of the Gitanes Blondes packet which he designed, in 1966 for the French market. Visitors linger in order to appreciate a particular line, a word or a shape that catches their attention and connects them with the spirit of the artist. most of them appear to be young creators or art students. The exhibition’s curator, the design engineer TAGAWA Kin’ya, hopes they have come with a desire to take on the mantel of this creative world and carry forward the tradition. The exhibition is very accessible even to the uninitiated. “Design” has never been so approachable. The exhibition lets us reflect on these everyday objects from their creators’ point of view. If Tokyo midtown has ambitions to be a centre for Japanese creativity and to reinvigorate Tokyo, then 21_21 Design Sight can demonstrate the way to organise a not-to-be-missed exhibition such as this one.


JAPAN DESIGN COMMITTEE (MARUHI): SECRET SOURCE OF INSPIRATION: DESINERS’ HiDDEN SKETCHES AND MOCKUPS, until 8 march. 1,200 yen, 800 yen, 500 yen (£8.37, £5.58, £3.49).
21_21 DESIGN SIGHT, 9-7-6 akasaka, minatoku, Tokyo.