Activities that go back and forth between design and art, fashion and art, across genres, are attracting a lot of attention.
While anyone can somewhat understand the difference between fashion and art, there may be many people who wonder where the line between design and art really lies.
If I had to give a clear and short answer, I would say that art is created to expose emotions, while design is a vector for problem-solving. An artist will put into her work external influences, for instance, from politics and society, and some internal, from within her inner emotions. In the designers’ case, they focus on challenges that most people have in their daily lives, such as ease of use, visibility and better answers to usability and comfort. In other words, artists seek comments on our society’s problems and our inner feelings. At the same time, designers strive daily to find better answers to things’ daily usability and comfort. Perhaps this curiosity is the common denominator between these two professions.
However, nowadays, designers and artists are working together to find new directions. As designers search for answers, they become aware of various problems and turn to art for their revelations.
Since 2017 DESIGNART, a festival that brings together art, architecture, crafts, fashion, interior and product design is held in Tokyo. The event follows three visions: First, by exposing many people to high-quality craftsmanship, the festival aims to stimulate interest in the creative world and drive people to seek a higher quality of life. Secondly, domestic and international creatives’ gathering creates unexpected synergies that will lead to even more innovative ideas regardless of genre. Finally, discover and educate young creators and provide a space where they can think freely, with a view to developing a future-oriented culture.
During the Meiji period (1868-1912), art as a concept was first introduced to Japan. Many of the paintings and sculptures that are now classified as Japanese art had a decorative meaning at that time, and ukiyo-e prints were made for people’s entertainment. In other words, until the Edo period, people in Japan may have enjoyed art in a more casual and unpretentious way. With such a cultural background, I expect Japanese creators to straddle art and design with ease to create something entirely new.
At Micheko Galerie, Norihiko Terayama entered the art world from the design world. He is a well-known product designer in Japan, so why has he entered the art world now? Terayama says about his approach: “Originally, most of the products I made were not focused on ease of use, but rather on playfulness and fun. Rather than finding a stable answer that satisfies many people, I’d like to give people the chance to discover alternative ways of thinking. Rather than finding a predictable solution that satisfies many people, I have been designing products that people did not expect. For me, the line between art and design is blurred, and it seems that there is a fascinating world around that border that no one knows about yet.”
Another artist, Ryosuke Harashima, who will be exhibiting at our gallery soon, is also a product designer and artist. In his case, he is striving to rethink products that have been in use since ancient times from a new, contemporary perspective.
Now it’s time to move on to fashion and art. The first time an artist and a fashion brand started working together was probably in 2003 when Takashi Murakami created the famous “Eye Love Monogram” for Louis Vuitton. You may probably know that Louis Vuitton’s colourful logo and eyeball design had an incredible impact on the international fashion world at the time. Since then, the honeymoon between high-end brands and the world’s top-tier artists continues to this day.
Christian Dior has selected eleven of the most in-demand artists of the moment, and the bags they have created are already stunning art pieces. I think it would be much more fun to buy some interesting young artists’ works of art than a bag that costs well beyond 1,000 Euro, but to all of us what we desire.
Another artist at Micheko who has collaborated with a fashion designer is Mariko Kusumoto. Many of you may already be familiar with Ms Kusumoto’s stunning jewellery, and some of you may already own some of her featherlight pieces. Kusumoto made her definitive breakthrough in the world of fashion and jewellery art when she collaborated with Jean Paul Gaultier for his Spring/Summer collection at the 2019 Paris Fashion Week. One of her pieces from that event made it to the Museum of Fine Arts’s permanent collection in Boston. In 2020, she also appeared in a commercial for the cosmetics company La Mer. Kusumoto is an artist whose activities are not limited to the realm of art but continue to expand internationally into fashion and design.
As I write this, it occurs to me that is time for us galleries to break out of our shells and discover a new worldview about manifestations in art. Perhaps our creative power and energy are now being tested.