ronan + erwan bouroullec's kokeshi dolls for east japan & kengo kuma
 
ronan + erwan bouroullec's kokeshi dolls for east japan & kengo kuma
oct 23, 2014

ronan + erwan bouroullec's kokeshi dolls for east japan & kengo kuma

ronan + erwan bouroullec make kokeshi dolls for east japan & kengo kuma

 

 

 

 

following the the fukushima disaster in 2011, kengo kuma initiated the east japan project as a means of getting artisans of the region back on their feet — assisting to rebuild and support the local economy during a difficult time — with its goals directed at creating lifestyle products that are manufactured by the skilled craftsmen of the area.

bouroullec kokeshi east japan project designboom
typically kokeshi dolls are static and do not move…

 

 

 

the japanese architect invited ronan and erwan bouroullec to participate, and asked the pair to develop an object that expressed the savoir faire of eastern japan. the french design duo decided to realize their own contemporary version of the traditional kokeshi doll — a small handmade wooden sculpture, which in its most rudimentary form, resembles a human figure with an enlarged head and slim frame, without any defined arms or legs.

bouroullec kengo kuma east japan project kokeshi designboom
but ronan and erwan bouroullec have envisioned their contemporary version to bend via a simple hinge

 

 

 

typically the japanese kokeshi doll is stick-like with a simple cylindrical shaped trunk, and no ability to move. the bouroullec brother’s interpretation sees a form whose head is in more realistic proportions with the body; which is more conical in shape. what characterizes ronan and erwan’s impression of a kokeshi doll, is that its torso is separated in two connected by a hinge which allows them to bend ‘at the hip’ in a bowing motion. their design brings movement to what is normally a static object, animating it.

bouroullec kengo kuma east japan project kokeshi designboom
the kokeshi dolls are animated

 

 

 

 

ronan and erwan boroullec on deciding to make a kokeshi doll for the east japan project:
‘few years ago during a trip to Japan, we saw an exhibition about japanese animal figurines. these small statues with different expressions made from different materials connected us with the craftspeople – the creators, and we were deeply moved by the simple and affectionate presence of their art, which has been passed on from their ancestors. we are also passionate collectors of books about japan’s popular objects. we love to look them through to discover the quiet sophistication of objects. when some years ago we designed the oiseau for vitra, it was in some way a continuation of this bestiary.

 

so when we started to work on the project for east japan, we were naturally drawn to traditional kokeshi manufacturing – wooden dolls created a hundred years ago by craftsmen in tohoku region in northern Honshu.
their roundness, which we see emerging from each of the spins of the woodturning, has barely changed since. we breathe movement into the doll with a single articulation; wood comes alive and mimics the movement of a friendly japanese greeting. the know-how of craftsman jujisato woodcraft and master eihiro sato made it possible.’

bouroullec kokeshi east japan project designboom
the bouroullec’s kokeshi doll takes on more realistic human proportions than a traditional one

 

 

 

 

 ronan bouroullec and kengo kuma are discussing the collaboration at bookshop tsutaya in daikanyama on october 30th, at 8PM during tokyo designers week 2014.

bouroullec kengo kuma east japan project kokeshi designboom
the kokeshi doll separated showing the hinge connection

 

bouroullec kengo kuma east japan project kokeshi designboom
all in unison

 

bouroullec kengo kuma east japan project kokeshi designboom

 

bouroullec kengo kuma east japan project kokeshi designboom

 

bouroullec kengo kuma east japan project kokeshi designboom

bouroullec kengo kuma east japan project kokeshi designboom

 

 

kokeshi doll for the east japan project
video courtesy of ronan & erwan bouroullec

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