The Italian Design Day continues in Japan for almost all of July: until the 27th, at the Italian Cultural Institute in Tokyo, the exhibition «The Italian Design Archipelago. Designing beauty »
The exhibition, which is part of the global program” Living Italian style “/ Italian Design Day” – promoted by the Italian Embassy and the IIC – is by the architect Matteo Belfiore. The protagonists are ten companies selected among the excellences of Italian design present in Japan: each has chosen to exhibit an iconic object from its catalog, the one that more than others represents a paradigm of beauty, innovation and utility.
Belfiore outlined the preparation of the exhibition on the archipelago’s image, both as a reference to the islands of Japan and as a metaphor for Italian design companies, which differ in history but share the objective of making the Italian way of think and design beauty.
The exhibition ‘islands’, each dedicated to a company or a product, are located in a landscape that explicitly mentions the «karesansui», the Japanese stone garden (where there is no water but it is evoked by sand).
“The layout of the exhibition takes on the image of the archipelago as a guideline for the project,” explains Belfiore. – In addition to the obvious geographical reference to the islands that make up Japan, it also represents, metaphorically, the system of Italian design companies. Each is a sort of island with its own history, its own identity, with its own organizational model, its own specific language. And yet, together, they acquire collective history, identity and language: they become a system, precisely, that affirms its own weight and influence in the international sphere. Exactly like the variegated Japanese archipelago marked by a strong unitary identity ».
Between art and industrial product
According to IIC Director Paolo Calvetti, “the arrangement combines some Japanese aesthetic concepts – for example the flexibility and variability of the partition of spaces, as well as the dialogue between” internal “and” external “- with the aesthetic potential of the objects on display, products made including elements worthy of real works of art. The Japanese public, to whom the exhibition mainly addresses itself, is perhaps among the most suitable for grasping the link between “art” and industrial product. In traditional Japanese culture in fact, at least until the second half of the nineteenth century, the distinction between “art” and “craftsmanship” or “applied art” was weak. The same word bijutsu, equivalent of Italian “art”, was coined only in the Meiji period in the wake of a broader phenomenon of innovation of the Japanese lexicon arising from contact with new concepts and new words coming from the West. The “beauty” – constitutive sememe of the Japanese word bijutsu – inherent in each of the products on display, is therefore the fundamental element of the concept of “art” of the Japanese word “.
Identity and heterogeneity
“As is well represented by the image chosen to symbolize the theme of this exhibition, that of the archipelago, the panorama of Italian design is incredibly vast and differentiated, allowing each company to maintain and enhance its own unique history and identity – observes the ‘ambassador in Tokyo Giorgio Starace – Yet it is possible to grasp, in this heterogeneity, the unified reality and common goals underlying the activity of Italian design firms, which is reflected in the nature of the Japanese archipelago, whose geographic and climatic diversity they are balanced by a singular cultural and linguistic homogeneity “.
ICE director of Tokyo, Aristide Martellini, recalled that the theme of the symposium held in March in the context of “Italian Design Day 2019” was “Designing the city of the future: Milan and Tokyo in comparison. Major events as a prerequisite for new urban visions “:” During the event it was illustrated how the Milan Expo developed from the point of view of “sustainability, reconversion or prospects for future use of the works conceived for this event”. The example of Milan could also provide inspiration for other areas or cities, such as Tokyo and Osaka. I hope that this exhibition can become a place of reference, a “bridge” between Japanese and Italian design cultures, where new trends and the great spirit of research that characterize them flow together “.
The ten brands
The exhibition is divided into ten brands, ten products on display and the ten designers chosen as testimonials of Italian design:
ALESSI: Anna Gong, by Alessandro Mendini
ARPER: Catifa 46, by Lievore Altherr Molina
ARTEMIDE: Come Together, by Carlotta de Bevilacqua
BAROVIER AND TOSO: Aurum, by Rony Plesl
CASSINA: 412 and 413 CAB, by Mario Bellini
FONTANA ARTE: Kanji, by Denis Guidone
FOSCARINI: Twiggy, by Marc Sadler
MAGIS: Spun, by Thomas Heatherwick
POLTRONA FRAU: Vanity Fair, by Renzo Frau
UNIFOR: Paris, by Aldo Rossi