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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » February 4, 2010
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Japanese Design (and Philosophy) on View
February 4, 2010   
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Wa: The Spirit and Harmony of Japanese Design Today is an exhibition of everyday objects by Japanese designers now showing at Warsaw's Institute of Industrial Design. The exhibition aims to introduce and demystify the concept of wa, which symbolizes a state of harmony in all fields of life.

The first imperial constitution of Japan, promulgated in 604 AD, declares wa to be a quality worthy of special respect and predicated on the necessity of avoiding all discord. Since then, wa has become a Japanese byword for harmony that has to prevail over all that exists-animate or inanimate-over the centuries. With time, the term came to denote "Japaneseness." The concept of wa began to be counterposed to that of yō, or "the West." This bipolarization is apparent in the concepts of washoku/yōshoku (Japanese vs. Western cuisine) and wafuku/yōfuku (Japanese vs. Western dress).

The curators decided to exhibit the objects principally in terms of their relationship to wa as a way of making the concept of Japanese design more comprehensible.

Juxtapositions that appear antagonistic at first blush-for example, natural vs. artificial, handmade vs. manufactured, tradition vs. modern technology, rural vs. urban, and big business vs. small business-may give some insight into Japanese design.

The exhibits have been divided into 12 categories corresponding to usage, for example, tableware, kitchen utensils, bathroom products, toys, children's articles, and clothing, and the six keywords which elucidate the concepts, sentiments and preferences inherent in Japanese design-beautiful, inimitable, subtle, sensuous to the touch, minimalist and planned.

Institute of Industrial Design, 5/7 Świętojerska St., Warsaw
Wanda Telakowska Hall; Open 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
daily except on Mondays until March 28
Admission is free
For more information, go to www.iwp.com.pl
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