Get up close to a selection of objects handcrafted by 12 of Japan’s National Living Treasures, those artisans who are masters of traditional skills and prized in the country as integral to Japan’s cultural heritage. Selected by Naoto Fukasawa and Japanese museum director, Tokugo Uchida, these exquisite works – including kimonos, an urushi lacquered harp and a bamboo flower basket – are simply yet reverentially displayed in the magnificent Cenacolo Palladino on 12 blocks shaped as stones in a design by Naoto Fukasawa inspired by the traditional Japanese garden. Short films provide insight into the working processes of the masters who crafted these sometimes unassuming, but always exceptional pieces.
Naoto Fukasawa has worked for leading brands around the world across many different design disciplines from precision electronic equipment to furniture and interior spaces. What links his work is a dedication to the beauty of form and the power of silence, a design philosophy that has garnered him international recognition for his ability to express the true essence of an object. In addition, he is the curator of The Japan Folk Crafts Museum, a professor at the Tama Art University and has sat on several judging panels including the Loewe Craft Prize. In 2007 he was named Honorary Royal Designer for Industry by the UK’s Royal Society of Arts.
Tokugo Uchida completed his PhD in aesthetics at Keio University in 2007 and has since lectured widely in Japan and abroad. His cultural expertise led him to sit as a member of the National Council for Cultural Affairs, deliberating the designation of National Living Treasures in Japan. He has also headed up a government subcommittee on traditional craft and is an expert on lacquer, being Vice-President of the Academy of Lacquer Research and the author of several books on the subject.