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Kanazawa Designer Ryosuke Harashima Merges The Past With The Present

October, 2020
Mr Steward, Future Past, Ryosuke Harashima (2020) © Nik van der Giesen

Held in the Tadao Ando-designed building Ishikawa NISHIDA KITARO Museum of Philosophy, Kanazawa-based Japanese contemporary designer Ryosuke Harashima presents his first solo design exhibition titled FUTURE PAST. By merging found Japanese antiquities with contemporary design finishes, his new works reflect functionality and a timeless, classic aesthetic in his cabinets, benches and even a new lantern in collaboration with one of Kyoto’s oldest lantern craftsmen. Harashima’s design inspiration comes from crossing East and West cultures, leading to an amalgamation of craftsmanship and traditional culture in his designs. We speak with him on balancing antiquity with modernity, the preservation of history through design, and his most recent projects currently on view at FUTURE PAST.

Designer Ryosuke Harashima © Nik van der Giesen (2020)

Please share a bit more about the exhibition title name:

I feel a mysterious “modern” charm and fascination with Japanese antique tools made almost 100 years ago. For me, things which make me feel as contemporary or modern are things which come from the past or imagine the future. The title “FUTURE PAST” expresses my thoughts on things which come from the past and pass to the future — beyond the now.



100年以上前の古民具にこそ不思議と”モダンな”魅力を感じます。自分にとってモダンであるとか、コンテンポラリーであるという感覚は、自分がいる現代に作られたものに触れる時よりも、古民具のような過去のものや、未来を想像させるものに出会ったときに感じることができます。”FUTURE PAST”というタイトルには、自分が生きる時代だけでは生み出すことのできない過去に触れ、ずっと先の未来に受け継がれるものづくりを追求したいという思いを込めています。

Dance Dance Dance, Future Past, Ryosuke Harashima (2020) © Nik van der Giesen
Dance Dance Dance, Future Past, Ryosuke Harashima (2020) © Nik van der Giesen

Held in a Tadao Ando-designed building, why did you decide to present your works here?

I am often conscious to create a contrast as my own expression method. That makes us more sensitive toward things and the environment. As my works are based on Japanese old folk tools, I thought to exhibit them in a more Western or a more minimalistic space as contrast. This time, I found the building felt that it was suitable as a minimal and modern space.  In that sense, I decided to use the exhibition hall because I thought that the minimalist and modern atmosphere was a good space to enhance the contrast with these works.



Early Dawn, Future Past, Ryosuke Harashima (2020) © Nik van der Giesen

How do you find the antique pieces, and what qualifies for your decision to use them for your designs?

Mainly at antique shops here in Kanazawa, but I also want to find the pieces at markets or an old house where I can visit. Choosing old folk implements is almost intuitive rather than having clear criteria, I don’t have a clear rule to select the pieces as it is more based on inspiration. I check their age and condition, cleanness and functionality but these are not the most important reasons. However, one thing I can say is I always feel something contemporary in the selected pieces, not just antiquity. It also attracts me if the pieces were designed in fascinating detail which I could never draw myself, and inspires me to want to use it.



How Deep The Dark, Future Past, Ryosuke Harashima (2020) © Nik van der Giesen

When creating your works, how do balance creating modernity and a contemporary silhouette?

To put it simply, I think of giving these antique items “new legs”, and allowing them stand up. Most Japanese folk tools were used on the floor or they were look down in usual because of the Japanese culture of tatami living style. They were used in places where the line of sight was low or overlooked. By providing new height, the antique tools change the impression differently. Also I think the figures which stand by themselves show a more independently and modern attitude and existence.



Case Do Walk, Future Past, Ryosuke Harashima (2020) © Nik van der Giesen

Please share a bit more about your new works with Kyoto based lantern makers Kojima Shouten:

I first visited them for another project, and soon fell in love with a lantern wooden mould I found at that time and asked them to collaborate using the same mould. The shape of the mould fits the design that I originally wanted to make, and I’ve asked to make a slightly arranged version of it. The Japanese traditional lantern is not an antique but also they are made today, but the mould is from old years and I thought it fits the concept of STILLIFE.

プロジェクトについて、京提灯 小嶋商店と共有してください。

別のプロジェクトの依頼で彼らを訪ねたのが最初です。その時に見つけた提灯の木型に惚れ込み、その木型を使ったコラボレーションをお願いしました。その木型は、もともと表現したいと思っていた提灯照明のアイデアに見合った形で、細部を少しだけアレンジして作ってもらいました。 京提灯は骨董品ではなく、今でも作り続けられている伝統工芸品ではありますが、その木型は古くからあるものとしてSTILLIFEのコンセプトにも合っていると思いました。

Future Past, Ryosuke Harashima (2020) © Nik van der Giesen
Future Past, Ryosuke Harashima (2020) © Nik van der Giesen

To you, what is “good design”?
Something that can refine your own daily way of life.



Future Past, Ryosuke Harashima (2020) © Nik van der Giesen

What is something a designer must always value?

When I was a student at design school, my teacher said, “Designers seem to make something meaningful, but end up producing garbage.” I don’t think it was just a pessimistic meaning about just producing garbage, but I do think that we as designers must always consider what meaningful things we are producing, as well as what we may be wasting.


私がデザイン学校の学生だったとき、恩師が「デザイナーは何か意味のあるものを作っていうようで、結局ゴミを生み出しているのだ。」ということをおしゃっていました。それは決して悲観的な意味だけで言っていたのではないと思います。 私たちデザイナーは常に、どんな意味のあるものを生み出しているのかと同時に、それによって何か無駄にしているのもの・ことがあるのかも意識しなればならないと考えるべきだと思います。

Future Past, Ryosuke Harashima (2020) © Nik van der Giesen
Future Past, Ryosuke Harashima (2020) © Nik van der Giesen


Ishikawa NISHIDA KITARO Museum of Philosophy
30 October – 6 November 2020

場所: 西田幾多郎記念哲学館
会期: 10/30(金) – 11/6(金)

Future Past, Ryosuke Harashima (2020) © Nik van der Giesen
October, 2020