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kansei initiative -from Material Fulfillment to Emotional Fulfillment Kansei Japan Design Exhibition

kansei-Japan Design Exhibition in PARIS


The kansei-Japan Design Exhibition was held at Les Arts Décoratifs (Museum of Decorative Arts) in the Palais du Louvre, Paris from December 12th to 21st, 2008 as the first of a series of exhibitions to be held under the Kansei Initiative. The exhibition successfully communicated the Japanese concept of kansei from the Palais du Louvre in the center of Paris, which is known as "the city of culture", to mark the 150th year of diplomatic relations between Japan and France. The exhibition featured numerous product displays grouped according to 12 Japanese words such as "mottai" that communicate the Japanese "kansei" or sensibility, the Tree of "kansei", 3D movie installations looking back at Japan’s long history, and Japanese craftsmanship. It successfully communicated the Japanese "kansei" found in Japanese products by describing the "monozukuri" spirit behind Japanese manufacturing. It was covered in the media both in France and abroad and received numerous positive comments such as "Bravo! And Thank you" from many of the more than 10,000 visitors.

Date: December 12th - 21st, 2008 *Closed on December 15th
Venue: Les Arts Décoratifs, Palais du Louvre, Paris, France
Organized by: Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO)
Co-organized by: Les Arts Décoratifs
Sponsored by: Ministry of the Economy, Finance and Employment of France, Japan Foundation, Organization for Small & Medium Enterprises and Regional Innovation, Japan Industrial Design Promotion Organization (JIDPO), Japan Design Foundation

a photo of the kansei-Japan Design Exhibition in PARIS The "Tree of Kansei" and 3D movie installations were displayed at the center of the venue to explain how "kansei" evolved over the course of Japanese history.

a photo of the kansei-Japan Design Exhibition in PARIS The meaning of 12 Japanese words and typical works embodying these words were displayed at the back of 3D movie installations.

a photo of the kansei-Japan Design Exhibition in PARIS Exhibited around "Tatazumai", a Japanese word for "appearance", were exquisite products such as plates that can be stacked beautifully.

Exhibited Products

Kagerou (to move from light to shadow)

The Japanese word "kagerou" describes the way "light goes into the shade" repeatedly and continuously. It also suggests that the shape of an object becomes blurry or that the object lacks presence. When the boundary between the object and the surrounding environment is not clear, the light and shadow sway back and forth, or the object or light is hidden in the shadow so that they are not clearly visible. The Japanese people use the word “kagerou” to describe the sense of loneliness and affection that they feel in response to these visual phenomena. The spirit of kagerou is being expressed in an increasing number of furniture pieces, miscellaneous goods and electric appliance made in Japan.

San-floor stand, Toh-floor stand M, Toh-desk stand S, and Tsuki-desk stand

a photo of the Kagerou (to move from light to shadow) Mr. Toshiyuki Kita, a product designer representing Japan, is well known in Europe. He developed "AOYA", lights using washi, a traditional paper of Japan. Instead of cutting and pasting ordinary flat-pressed washi paper to give shape to a lampshade, Kita presses washi paper to create a three-dimensional form for his lampshades. Because AOYA does not require a skeleton structure, we can fully enjoy the charm of its "kagerou" effect through the brightness of washi paper. AOYA is a product that has brought innovation to the traditional paper, washi.

Musubi (knot)

"Musubi" means tying the ends of two strings or pieces of cloth firmly together. Japanese people have a habit of communicating their feelings such as congratulations, gratitude, boundary and condolence in silence by tying string in a specific way. This is how the knot has come to mean not only physical connection but also the intention of design, which is to spiritually connect people's feelings and establish a bond, and the function of a product. Due to the advancement of communications, it is becoming increasingly difficult to visualize the knot. Moreover, the knot is getting increasingly complex.

a photo of the Musubi (knot)Furoshiki is a type of wrapping cloth used to carry goods regardless of their shape or size. Furoshiki has become known all over the world as a wrapping method that does not require paper. By learning different wrapping techniques, we can not only carry almost anything using a single cloth, but also express our feeling using a musubi that carries a specific meaning such as gratitude or welcome. People can see that with a single piece of cloth called a furoshiki, musubi offers endless possibilities.

Habuku(to eliminate the superfluous)

Habuku means reduction of physical elements such as weight, area and volume, with the exception of parts and components, to the extent that a product can still perform its function sufficiently. It is also known as a means of connecting goods and people because it incorporates user-intuitive systems, saves time and trouble for users, and eliminates failure and stress during operation. With the advancement of technology and increasingly complex functions, habuku is becoming one of the major challenges for industrial design.

Issey Miyake "TO"

a photo of the Habuku(to eliminate the superfluous)Produced by Issey Miyake and designed by Mr. Tokujin Yoshioka, this wristwatch looks like a rich sculpture machined from a chunk of metal. It adopted the concept of "habuku" and eliminated hands and dial. The intent of the designer was actualized by engineering staff who were eager to install a caliper in a limited space to exert a great torque. "TO" uses a mechanical, automatic winding movement.

Comments of visitors

(1) Number of visitors

  • Number of visitors: 10,347
  • Degree of satisfaction: The degree of satisfaction (comprehensive evaluation) among respondents to the Visitor Questionnaire was 99.1% (for the top two items).

(2) Time spent at exhibition: 47.4% of respondents stayed for more than 45 minutes, and 84.1% stayed for more than 30 minutes.

(3) Feedback from visitors

  • This exhibition mirrors the Japanese spirit.
  • I hated leaving the exhibition.
  • It was a superb exhibition. All the visual installations were excellent and beautiful. I had a genuinely happy time and I feel grateful.
  • Bravo! And thank you. The precision and quality of the artistic works were truly enjoyable.
  • It was the most beautiful exhibition I have visited in recent years. It is open for only a short while. But I hope that it will offer collaborative opportunities for the exchange of craftsmanship and culture between Europe and Japan.
  • It was a very beautiful exhibition. The museum accepted visitors warmly. They were truly professional.
  • Thank you for showing us the Japanese spirit and kansei such as Japanese tradition and new design. My friends were thrilled, too. All I can say is "wonderful".


Exhibition Space: About 1,000 m2

Components of Exhibition:
(1) Central Hall
Spatial composition with a focus on 3D movie installations to offer a firsthand experience of "kansei", which underlies Japanese design.

(2) Exhibition of products
A total of 104 kansei product displays were grouped according to 12 Japanese words to showcase the blend of design and technology that embody today’s Japanese design. In addition, the Kansei Meister Exhibition introduced the craftsmanship of Japanese printing, leather processing and dyeing.

Seminar:Held on December 12nd, 2008

Mr. Etienne Cochet(Salons Francais et Internationaux)
Ms. Chantal Hamaide(Intramuros)
Mr. Toshiyuki Kita (Industrial Designer)
Ms. Mika Ikenobo (Ikenobo Ikebana Artist) 

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Creative Industries Promotion Office
Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) JAPAN
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