July 29, 2014 Leave a comment
We recently released a collection of 8 traditional Japanese prints form the 18th and 19th century. We did so, primarily because we feel these pieces are timeless and will look great in many spaces, but the are also touch stones for the roots of many aspects of contemporary Japanese design that we hold in high regard.
We think the obvious modern connection is the link to the theatrical nature of these wonderful traditional prints and the street fashion of Harajuku. The use of patterns, make-up and the sentimentality of character are often echoed.
These concepts are also bred from the traditional theater of the Kabuki, from the Edo period. Simple scenic settings with narratives that examine moral dilemmas of the heart. This thematic element is inescapable in all Japanese design, and it is the horse one rides upon to enjoy the emotive journey that draws in the eye. See this video about that nature of the Kabuki and Japanese culture.
On any given day in Tokyo one stills see traditional Geisha and traditional Kimonos on the street, contrasted with the iconic inventiveness of street trendies
Either way contemporary Japanese there are still representing the traditional culture through their fashion. The role it plays in society is important to the ethics of the people. To some extent this drives a collective value and motive behind the desire to continue to display their traditions.
Perhaps the most curious and hard to understand example of this play between , character , setting and narrative as an exponent of emotional reality as a key to aesthetic value is Hatsune Miku , the top grossing hologram pop star. Packing live venues , the embracing of character over reality, and perhaps the value of emotive reality over personage is something that is deeply Japanese, and has it’s roots in the kinds of prints we love from the 19th century. See below this live performance of Hatsune Miku