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Japan Foundation Manila Director Hiroaki Uesugi and Curator Hiroshi Kashiwagi at the opening of the Japanese Design Today 100 Traveling Exhibition

A unique exhibit on how the Japanese have seamlessly crafted both functionality and aesthetics into their everyday products opened in earnest and was welcomed quite warmly at the Tall Galleries of the Metropolitan Museum of Manila (MET). The Japanese Design Today 100 exhibition was unveiled to dignitaries, guests and the media, featuring a collection of exactly a hundred carefully selected household and commercial products that exemplify the distinct characteristics of Japanese aesthetics as well as mirror the needs and lifestyles of the Japanese.   This traveling product exhibition is proudly presented by the Japan Foundation, Manila (JFM), the Metropolitan Museum of Manila (MET) and the Embassy of Japan in the Philippines, with support from JT International (Philippines) Inc.


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The exhibition was first organized by the Japan Foundation in 2004 and has been touring the world for the past 12 years. Its updated version features 100 of the finest examples of Japanese design with a focus on everyday products, 11 of which are postwar designs from 1950s to 1990s that had significant influence on the Japanese design of today. Product categories range from Furniture and Houseware to Healthcare; Apparel and Accessories to Transportation. The design of household products serves as a mirror reflecting the hopes and dreams of the people who use them and the designers and companies who create them.


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A press preview was held early during the event, with none other than the exhibition’s chief curator Hiroshi Kashiwagi himself guiding the media on a tour of the hundred products showcased in the gallery.  Born in Kobe in 1946, Mr. Kashiwagi is a design critic and a professor of History of Modern Design at the Musashino Art University, Japan, where he also obtained his design degree.  Through the years, he has been attempting to spell out modern thought and aesthetic through his research in design.


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He gave his commentary on some of the pieces, relating his insights into the factors and influences of why the Japanese have put both functionality and aesthetics in high regard and importance even in the most common of items and products. He has stressed on five features of Japanese contemporary design in relation to the characteristics of Japanese culture: (1) Craft‐like ; (2) Minimal ; (3) Thoughtful ; (4) Compact ; (5) Cute.


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The opening reception followed soon afterwards as everyone gathered at the lobby, with opening remarks from the Board of the Metropolitan Museum of Manila, as well as from Japan Foundation, Manila Director Hiroaki Uesugi, followed by the curators of the exhibits. Each expressed their delight at seeing not only functional products, but also works of art, and for some, sources of nostalgia. All of them were earnest in inviting everyone to take part and experience the exhibit with their friends and family.


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Afterwards, guests were able to experience the exhibit, all in amazement at the creativity and ingenuity as well as the inherent attractiveness and even cuteness of the items in display.  Our team felt the same way, marveling at how the Japanese keep traditional elements and sensibilities in their creations and even in their most modern and most commonplace of products.


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Architect Keiji Ashizawa of Ishinomaki Lab, whose designs are included in the exhibition under the Disaster Relief category, will hold a one-day design workshop on July 29 and a design dialogue with Plus63 Design Co.’s cofounder
Dan Matutina on July 30, at the MET.

Japanese Design Today 100 is on view alongside the parallel exhibition Conversations on Philippine Design at the Galeriya Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP Gallery) featuring stunning furniture and crafts by esteemed Filipino designers. The cultural dialogue through these exhibitions is timely, as 2016 marks the anniversary of “60 Years of Philippines-Japan Friendship,” as well as the 20th anniversary of the Japan Foundation, Manila.


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Japanese Design Today 100 is open to the public from June 30 to August 19, 2016.  For inquiries, you may call the Japan Foundation, Manila at landline numbers (02) 8116156 to 58 or send a message to arts@jfmo.org.ph . Visit www.jfmo.org.ph for more information and Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/jfmanila/ for updates. The Metropolitan Museum of Manila is located at Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Complex, Roxas Boulevard, Manila.  It is open Monday to Saturday, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Admission fee is Php 100 (regular) and Php 80 for senior citizens and PWDs.


About the Japan Foundation, Manila
The Japan Foundation was established in 1972 by special legislation in the Japanese Diet and became an Independent
Administrative Institution in October 2003. The mission of the Japan Foundation is to promote international cultural exchange and mutual understanding between Japan and other countries. As the18th overseas office, the Japan Foundation, Manila was founded in 1996, active in three focused areas: Arts and Culture; Japanese Studies and Intellectual Exchange; Japanese Language Education Overseas. For more information please visit our website at www.jfmo.org.ph.


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