Field Update #3 Kyoto Culture // Craft

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Susannah Ramshaw, Associate Director October 4, 2017

In our 3rd and final Field Update from the Kyoto Culture / Craft Study Away trip, Designmatters Associate Director, Susannah Ramshaw, describes in delightful detail the student’s foray into Bamboo prototyping.

Today our students were assigned in groups of 2-3 with their Japanese counterparts from Kyoto Seika University, for day one of the Bamboo Workshop.  

Led by a Product Design professor (Mr. Koyama), the Chair of Design at KSU (Mr. Osako), and a KSU alum who heads the bamboo studio Takano Chikku (Mr. Ishigami), the bamboo workshop challenged students to produce small home goods in the medium – in just five short days. The collaborative processes in this workshop included sketching, prototyping, laser cutting wood molds for the bamboo, boiling and shaping the bamboo, and lastly, drying and assembling the product. It was a tight timeline!

Before the prototyping began, we set out for some more inspiration. Mr. Koyoama, Mr. Osako and Mr. Ishigami took us out into the field to explore traditional arts and crafts in Kyoto. We visited Kyoto Handicraft Center, a gallery that showcases the city’s traditional crafts including bamboo, ceramics, chopsticks, clay dolls and woodworking. We were even able to see some live demonstrations of wood lacquering! We pushed on to Kyoto Design House, a chic (and architecturally perfect) gift store designed by renowned architect Tadao Ando.

Despite the steaming hot temperatures, we walked a mile to Takano Chikkou, the storefront for Mr. Ishigami’s bamboo studio, where we viewed his masterful work in the medium. (Those chopsticks are a work of art!)

Finally, we visited the Kanjiro Kawai Museum, the home and studio of the late ceramicist. Kanjiro Kawai (1890-1966) was a renowned potter and a key figure in Mingei (Japanese folk art), which peaked in the 1920’s and 30’s. The museum, also a traditional Kyomachica townhouse, has incredible grounds with two of the biggest kilns we’d ever seen! It was a relaxing spot to enjoy the remainder of the day and students took their last photos and sketches to bring back to the studio for inspiration.


Keep up with the Kyoto CULTURE // CRAFT  team on the dedicated project page —>