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Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012

Issey Miyake, Masanori Aoyagi make joint push for national design museum


Staff Writer

For many years, design aficionados have bemoaned Japan's lack of a publicly funded design museum, even though this is the country that gave the world such modern-day design classics as the Sony Walkman and the original, streamlined bullet trains.

Now the renowned fashion designer Issey Miyake has teamed up with one of Japan's most prominent art administrators, Masanori Aoyagi, to try to bring such an institution to fruition.

Yesterday, it was announced that the pair had established what they have called the Kokuritsu Dezain Bijutsukan o Tsukuru Kai (the association for making a national design museum). The association, which is private, has one objective: "To promote awareness about the need for a design museum" — with the aim of increasing the chances that it be realized.

"Let's create a base for conveying our creative expression, which makes the most of our single-minded focus on monodukuri (making things) and our strengths in research and development," Miyake writes on the association's newly launched website. "The creation of an independent archive will link the past, present and future."

This is not the first time that Japan's most prominent fashion designer has called publicly for a national design museum. He first threw down the gauntlet in 2003, writing in the Asahi Shimbun: "Design museums exist in London, New York, Berlin, Zurich and Helsinki. How much longer must we wait for one in Japan?"

Of course, the answer is that we're still waiting. And it was perhaps out of frustration that Miyake opted to reach out to Aoyagi, who should prove to be a valuable ally. Aoyagi is not only director of the National Museum of Western Art, in Tokyo's Ueno district, but also chairman of the body that oversees all five of Japan's national museums.

The new association's first activity will be to organize a symposium, which is scheduled to be held at Tokyo Midtown on Nov. 27. Miyake and Aoyagi will be joined on stage by designers such as Naoto Fukasawa and Taku Satoh. The theme will be: "Let's make a national design museum!"

For more information, visit www.designmuseum.jp.


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