DALE HARDIMAN’S TOKYO

THE AUS­TRALIAN DE­SIGNER SHARES HIS EX­PE­RI­ENCES OF TOKYO AF­TER WIN­NING A TRIP WITH VOGUE LIV­ING AS PART OF LEXUS NEXT, A PLAT­FORM SUP­PORT­ING THE FU­TURE OF DE­SIGN.

VOGUE Living Australia - - News - VL Pho­tographed by PAUL BARBERA

The Aus­tralian de­signer shares his ex­pe­ri­ences of Tokyo af­ter win­ning a trip as part of Lexus Next

AS THE FIRST PLACE I had vis­ited that was sig­nifi­f­i­cantly difff­fer­ent to Aus­tralian cul­ture, Tokyo seems kind, calm, a place for re­flflflec­tion. My im­pres­sion af­ter vis­it­ing nu­mer­ous cul­tural in­sti­tu­tions and speak­ing with lo­cal res­i­dents and cre­atives is that it feels like a city with a strong sense of cul­tural identity, es­pe­cially when it comes to its de­sign in­dus­try. Ex­hi­bi­tions are im­mac­u­lately cu­rated and the ar­chi­tec­ture is equally im­pres­sive. Ja­pan has pro­duced some of the world’s most in­cred­i­ble and pro­lifific de­sign­ers — Issey Miyake, Oki Sato and Naoto Fuka­sawa, to name a few — and el­e­ments of their de­sign legacy can be found all around Tokyo. A great ex­am­ple of this deep un­der­stand­ing of art, de­sign and ar­chi­tec­ture is Scai the Bath­house in the Taito ward of the city. This build­ing was con­verted into a gallery from life as a pub­lic bath­house in 1993 and was host­ing a show by Anish Kapoor when I vis­ited [pic­tured]. The 200-year-old façade is al­most un­touched, and the build­ing’s his­tory as a place of cul­tural her­itage and in­tegrity is well com­mu­ni­cated within the up­dated in­te­rior. This feels like a com­mon thread across a lot of what I saw — a deep un­der­stand­ing of his­tory and a view of the fu­ture to­gether, not op­pos­ing one an­other. If I had the op­por­tu­nity to move my de­sign prac­tice to any city in the world, Tokyo would be at the top of the list. Af­ter only a short stay, I felt as though I had un­cov­ered a frac­tion of what was on offf­fer and what could be learnt. Re­flflect­ing on my prac­tice now back in Aus­tralia, I feel even more in­flflu­enced by our own past — and how ‘con­tem­po­rary’ doesn’t al­ways need to mean ‘new’.

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