Photo By Takaya Sakano
LOS ANGELES – A new exhibit in Los Angeles gives Americans a taste of woodworking traditions from the heart of Japan’s historic regional furniture center.
Japan House Los Angeles will host the exhibition “Hida | A Woodwork Tradition in the Making,” which brings Japanese woodcraft from its spiritual homeland of the Hida region of Japan to Los Angeles for the first time.
On display from January 16 through April 12, the exhibition invites visitors to discover the legendary craftsmen of Hida and their design legacy today, embodied in the work of century-old furniture maker Hida Sangyo Co., Ltd.
Select items on display include a chair designed by the late Sori Yanagi utilizing wood-bending techniques native to Hida and part of the permanent collection at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. Also in the exhibit is a branch spoon created by Ibuki Kaiyama utilizing a traditional chiseling technique.
Located in the center of the country in Gifu Prefecture, the Hida region became known for its woodworking traditions and skilled artisans 1,300 years ago. This fame continues today through innovative design and sustainable use of the region’s forests, particularly the iconic cedar tree, in everything from contemporary furniture to fragrant aroma oils.
The furniture maker Hida Sangyo Co., Ltd was founded in the region in 1920, and for nearly a hundred years has prioritized four core principles: Forest, Human, Time and Craft. Engaging all five senses, the exhibition guides visitors to experience these themes for themselves: coexistence with the forest (Forest), consideration of inherent human needs (Human), a legacy cultivated through time (Time), and a continuous refinement of craft (Craft).
Their furnishings have been specifically selected to adorn the Japanese imperial palace. In 2007, the Hida brand was exhibited at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York, one of the world’s five largest furniture fairs, where it received the Craftsmanship Award. The company is a regular exhibitor at the Milan Furniture Fair (Salone Internazionale del Mobile di Milano), and continues to produce coveted designs, expanding the potential of wood in collaboration with leading world designers.
Displays highlight regional specialties such as Hida-shunkei lacquerware, Ichii wood carving (Ichii itto bori — Japanese yew carving), and mageki (wood bending), as well as materials, prototypes, and products developed by Hida Sangyo and its frequent collaborations with some of the world’s top contemporary designers, such as Enzo Mari and Sori Yanagi.
The exhibition will also spotlight where tradition meets technology and innovation, such as Hida Sangyo’s revolutionary wood compression techniques with cedar. This sustainable domestic wood is typically too soft for long-lasting furniture, but in the Hida Sangyo factory, cedar is compressed and strengthened for use in durable chairs, tables and flooring imbued with cedar’s subtle scent.
As a business leader, Hida Sangyo’s success has also influenced a community of other manufacturers to stay in, or migrate to, the Hida area, furthering the time-honored mastery of the region’s woodcraft.
A series of events and workshops will also accompany the exhibition. For more information on all programs, visit https://www.japanhouse.jp/losangeles.
Japan House is an innovative, worldwide project with three hubs, London, Los Angeles and Sao Paulo, conceived by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It seeks to nurture a deeper understanding and appreciation of Japan in the international community. Japan House Los Angeles occupies two floors at Hollywood & Highland boulevards. The second floor features a gallery space and the fifth floor hosts a Japanese restaurant, relaxing library, and event venue, along with spectacular views of Hollywood and downtown Los Angeles. Japan House Los Angeles offers a place of new discovery that transcends the physical and conceptual boundaries creating experiences that reflect the best of Japan through its spaces and diverse programs.
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