Thursday, February 15, 2007


So as I was writing the previous post I thought you might be wondering: Who is Ohya? He's a cool guy. We met him a few days ago via our correspondence with Clifton. They both attended the Urushi program at Kyoto City University of Art a few years ago. Ohya showed us his work from school and from the Kohseki company he now works for, and we gave him our Takayama presentation. We also got to meet his English Teacher, a funny elderly Japanese man who looks like a westerner with a painful life story.

Yesterday we got an exclusive tour of Kohseki courtesy of Ohya. What a great company! They specialize in building Tea House interiors, but also make high end washi paper lanterns and import Scandinavian tables and chairs. The company employs thirty carpenters, 3 lamp makers including Ohya, and one repair guy. The work Kohseki does is top of the line; they've built for the Imperial Palace in Kyoto and the Rockafellers in America. We noticed interesting similarities between a few of the traditional Scandinavian designs and the traditional Japanese lamps. And Both places make woven grass floor matting. The lamps were so nice, mostly cedar wood - so light, washi rice paper, some urushi, and some metal. The bent forms were the best, and the tiny tiny joinery used to put them together. The compositions the Japanese come up with are so foreign to me, but I like them. It's like they do the second to worst thing I could think of, but somehow it looks amazing. Ohya showed us his "training" piece, an almost soccer ball motif lamp, about which he said, "No saw is good design," meaning ever piece was planed to its shape. Intense.