Modern and contemporary design

Scholze, Jana, Faulkner, Rupert and Josephine, Rout (2016) Modern and contemporary design. In: Irvine, Gregory, (ed.) Japanese Art and Design. London : V&A Publishing. pp. 221-245. ISBN 9781851778553


This chapter is part of a new collections book published to accompany the reopening of the V&A's refurbished Toshiba Gallery of Art and Design in November 2015. It replaced a successful but more than two decades old publication celebrating the UK's largest permanent display of Japanese art, housing objects from the 6th century to the present day. The V&A has been collecting Japanese objects from its founding in 1852, and has played a significant role in bringing the art of Japan to the attention of designers, manufacturers and the British public. This tradition continues to the present day, and in this new book some of the world's leading researchers in the field bring their attention to the V&A's unparalleled collection. The important new addition to the gallery display of modern and contemporary works from the collection has been reflected predominantly in this last chapter of the book. It is the result of more than three years of research activity which resulted in major acquisitions, interviews with leading designers, craftsmen and others, and an extensive network of not only important individuals but cultural, business and academic institutions. This chapter is informed by this research and uses the acquisitions to reflect on the design and craft history in Japan since WWII. Japan’s rapid rise to become a leading global economy was backed by a robust manufacturing industry but also early professionalization of design and designers. Leading the development and innovation of consumer goods, especially electronics, the economy grew unprecedented, resulting not just in an internationally recognized nation attracting specialists from all over the world but an economic bubble that burst in 1991. The following long recension created a gap that allowed alternative forms and lifestyles to be considered. Devastating natural disasters returned attention to craft, coinciding with a commitment to issues of sustainability and ecology.

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