2.01 Thu 19:00 START
On February 1st, 2018, INTERSECT BY LEXUS - TOKYO hosted a talk to accompany the "LEXUS and BEAMS JAPAN Present: Life with New Takumi" exhibition.
For this first collaboration with BEAMS JAPAN, INTERSECT is introducing items from the LEXUS New Takumi Project curated by an expert team from BEAMS, including a chief buyer and store manager. These superb crafts produced by up-and-coming artisans are presented along with examples of the ways that they can be used in everyday life.
This talk welcomed three guest speakers: Shuji Suzuki, Chief Buyer at BEAMS JAPAN; Leki Nagahara, a product designer from Tokushima Prefecture and one of the LEXUS New Takumi Project artisans in 2016; and Asao Tokolo, the designer of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games official logo and a long-time friend of Nagahara. The facilitator was project mentor Toshiaki Kawamata.
The event started with an introduction to the LEXUS New Takumi Project from Lexus International's Yoshimitsu Miyanaga, including various episodes from over the course of the project and information about a recent exhibition that featured 51 artisans from all across Japan. The LEXUS New Takumi Project was launched by LEXUS in 2016 in order to support the bold and exciting work of young artisans in different regions of Japan. Now in its second year, it carefully selects 51 artisans from around the country and creates opportunities for them to present their work to Japanese and international buyers and media outlets. In this way, the project aspires to help the amazing craftsmanship of Japan reach across the globe. The audience for the talk at INTERSECT also included several young artisans who had come to listen enthusiastically to the speakers.
Suzuki kicked things off by sharing insights about his work in retail, where BEAMS endeavors to pass on the wonders of Japanese culture in everything from traditional crafts and folk art to pop culture and subcultures. Nagahara introduced the aizome indigo dyeing studio that he started in Tokushima as well as his aizome surfboard that was selected for the LEXUS New Takumi Project by the project supervisor Kundo Koyama. Tokolo then explained about his logo design for the Tokushima aizome publicity campaign.
Ahead of this exhibition at INTERSECT, Suzuki visited Nagahara's aizome studio in Tokushima. "It's a wonderful place," he said. "With its view of the sea right across the road, I envy someone who can work there." Tokolo also jumped in: "It's not just Leki who's there, you know. It's the kind of place that brings together all sorts of people. It's such a great location-everyone is connected."
Tokolo and Nagahara first became acquainted through the indigo dye that is so firmly associated with Tokushima. Bringing this up, Suzuki commented that indigo was incredibly popular at the end of the feudal period in the nineteenth century when Japan opened up to the outside world. "It's a color that seems to have a genetic hold over the Japanese! It's beloved by all, regardless of gender or generation. From a buyer's point of view, indigo has just so much potential."
The talk then continued with the three guests talking about Japanese craftsmanship from their respective perspectives. "There are concepts like 'product-out' and 'market-in,' but artisans just do what they do because they like it," said Tokolo. "You should make what you like." Nagahara came to realize new things through his participation in the project. "Tokushima produces the most indigo in Japan, but it's a national color and indigo dyeing can be found all over the country. So as someone involved with indigo, I want to keep thinking as broadly as possible." Suzuki took up this topic from an international angle. "People overseas sense the value of Japanese things in the sincerity and quality. I often hear people praise the diligence and perfection of Japanese crafts."
Nagahara agreed. "When visitors come from overseas, they are interested in aizome and handicrafts. And then this inspires locals also to realize the merits of those things. The 2020 Olympics will be a good opportunity to re-examine the value of traditional crafts. When artisans join together with other people with similar mindsets like LEXUS and BEAMS, it's also a chance to do this. I hope we look ahead to the Olympics and beyond to develop this further."
With the main event at an end, the venue bustled as the speakers and other guests from all over Japan continued to talk while admiring the exhibits. On this night, INTERSECT BY LEXUS truly lived up to its name as an intersection for Japanese crafts talent and creativity that transcended generation and location.
"LEXUS and BEAMS JAPAN Present: Life with New Takumi" Exhibition
Venue: INTERSECT BY LEXUS - TOKYO (4-21-26 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo)
Exhibition: January 23rd - February 19th, 2018
Hiroshi Kubo (Creative Director, BEAMS)
Hiroshi Doiji (Communication Director, BEAMS)
Shuji Suzuki (Chief Buyer, BEAMS JAPAN)
Yuri Ota (Buyer, BEAMS JAPAN)
Satoko Kimijima (Store Manager, BEAMS JAPAN)
Toyozo Fujii (Assistant Store Manager, BEAMS JAPAN)
LEXUS New Takumi Project(Japanese only)