Even though Hong Kong held all the spotlight this week for a week full of festivities, JR took the art world by surprise once again. As is now customary for the artist, his work takes on a larger than life persona and weaves itself with the Louvre’s DNA. The installation celebrates the iconic pyramids’ 30th birthday (and is likely a much needed outdoor installation for the French museum). New modern works of this kind highlight the art world’s willingness to push boundaries and embrace innovative formats. Perhaps this will usher in a new trend for bigger and bolder projects in the next few months and years. More interestingly, we hope this will also enable more large scale collaborations. We’d definitely love to see a KAWS x JR installation sometime soon.
JR, the renown French street artist, takes over Paris' Louvre Museum
JR, the Parisian artist known for his incredible works, has surprised everyone once again with his latest installation. This is not the artist’s first foray with the Louvre: he previously made the iconic pyramid disappear altogether in 2016. The installation, erected to mark the pyramid’s 30th anniversary, was up only during the weekend for onlookers to experience.
Concrete Objects and Futura release a collaborative "NULL" Figure
Who’s involved and what is it?
Concrete Objects and artist Futura partner on a collaborative figure. Concrete Objects is a project by designers Samuel Ross (of A Cold Wall* fame) and Jobe Burns. The brand emerged out of their friendship and interest in creating a design-focused dialog around products beyond just clothing and sneakers.
The underlying inspiration of the brand is a mutual appreciation for brutalist design. Together with legendary artist Futura, they’ve released a series of customized “NULL” figures, a Concrete Objects original. The hand-crafted figures are cast in epoxy resin with a “hand painted matte finish to immobilise the light that passes through it.” Let us simplify the unnecessary jargon, the matte paint doesn’t reflect light.
Why it’s important?
Samuel Ross’ label A COLD WALL* alongside Futura are two respected names in the realm of youth/street culture. Their involvement presents product through a new lens around design that extends beyond the ephemera of modern day fashion. The hand-made pieces provide a new vector for a younger generation to understand the concepts that drive consumer products.
The figures are available now via the Concrete Objects online store. with a retail price of GBP 800 (or approximately $1,046 USD). If you’re interested in hearing more about Samuel Ross’ story, head over to our interview.
The Blackwing Volume 811 is a Dr. Maya Angelou-inspired pencil
Blackwing, purveyors of some of the best pencils around, has unveiled the Volume 811 also known as “The Library Pencil” inspired by the late Dr Maya Angelou. The pencils are part of their limited edition series.
- At a speech at the New York Public Library, the late Dr. Angelou described the humble library as “a rainbow in the clouds” so that “in the worst of times, in the meanest of times, in the dreariest of times… at all times the viewer can see a possibility of hope.”
- 811 refers to the section of the Dewey Decimal System containing some of Dr. Angelou’s most famous works and works from other inspirational writers
- The pencil features an emerald green finish and gold ferrule inspired by the iconic green lamps found in libraries around the world
- The body is made of incense cedar, with a firm Japanese graphite core, aluminum ferrule, and dust-free eraser
- It’s coated with a phosphorescent topcoat, making it a literal light in the dark
- A pack of 12 will run you $24.95 USD
Available now at Blackwing in limited quantities.
Akiko Shinoda discusses why Japanese designers are too modest
Akiko Shinoda, the current director of international affairs at Japan Fashion Week, is on a mission to bring light to more Japanese creators. In an era where fashion is ultra connected, Japanese designers still remain focused on their local market which suffices to sustain business. As competition heats up, Japanese fashion may need to adapt or it will lose its position as a cultural leader.
Japanese should be looking to expand
For Akiko Shinoda, Japan’s fashion scene is as strong as ever. Local designers are in demand and as such not pressed to expand operations overseas. In addition, designers typically speak little to no English, often a barrier to pushing their work beyond. However, Shinoda wants this to change and for typically shy creators to go beyond their comfort zone and showcase their work elsewhere. By embracing uncertainty, local talent can become the pioneers of tomorrow.
A gilded age of fashion
Perhaps the most important take-away is how Japan’s global fashion revolution in the 80’s has run out of steam. Back then, designers like Yohji Yamamoto, Issey Miyake and Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons burst through the scene. It was then followed by the Urahara movement and the pioneers of streetwear such as Hiroshi Fujiwara, Jun Takahashi of UNDERCOVER, NIGO of A Bathing Ape, and Shinsuke Takizawa of NEIGHBORHOOD. Today, very few designers have made headway with a few noteworthy exceptions. Shinoda notes that regional competitors such as Korea and China are making great strides to potentially dethrone Japan as a cultural powerhouse. For example, Korea leverages private business and government bodies to attract international demand. As such, Korea is taking the reins through K-Pop, K-Fashion and K-Beauty.
Why Japanese mindsets need to change
As Shinoda points, out, most Japanese designers focus on quality and craft above all else. This means that brands spend little to no time trying to branch their message out to international markets, losing out on potential opportunities. As such, Shinoda wants to leverage international events to tell these stories in greater depth and ensure Japan’s dominance continues. With fashion as a key export, we hope to see more Japanese designers break onto the scene.
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