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A new initiative rethinks old Tohoku crafts

A new initiative aimed at revitalizing Japanese crafts is launching in Tokyo this month, with a showcase of collaborations between international designers and regional industries. Craft x technology – led by Hideki Yoshimoto, founder of the technical design studio Tangent — focuses on the versatility of traditional crafts and their potential to evolve with innovative design and cutting-edge technology.

For the first project, directed by independent design curator Maria Cristina Didero, Craft x Tech invited makers to collaborate with artisans in each of Tohoku’s six prefectures. The resulting works, described by the initiative as ‘collector’s items’, are being kept secret until their debut at an exhibition from May 24 to 25 in Kudan House in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward. However, judging by the roster of internationally renowned designers and artists, the pieces are certainly unconventional interpretations of Tohoku’s varied traditional crafts, which range from textiles and woodwork to ceramics and cast iron.

Yoshimoto is no stranger to experimenting with new technology and Japanese materials, including washi paper and lacquer. His 2023 solo exhibition, “Dawn,” involved using an ultra-short pulse laser cutter to perforate Kanazawa gold leaf foil for incredibly delicate, luminous works of art. For Craft x Tech, Yoshimoto is paired with Aizu-Hongoyaki pottery made in Fukushima Prefecture, Tohoku’s oldest ceramic-producing region known for its unusually eclectic styles. The only hint about Yoshimoto’s piece is that it will push the boundaries of ceramics as lightwork.

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