Postcard from Tokyo

Japanese Landscape in the Snow

I was delighted by this New Year’s card from Takeshi Ishiguro in Tokyo. On the front was an image of a snow covered landscape, with one of those crisp blue skies that only seem to visit Japan when it’s cold. The card came in an envelope, as the postage stamps and franking marks were designed to communicate Takeshi’s message rather than enable the postal system. Opposite the stamps is a tree, a dove, two clouds and a message written in Takeshi’s diminutive hand writing, surprising as he is a gentle giant in person, standing a full head taller than most of his compatriots.

Postal Messages

I have another postcard that connects me to Takeshi. In 1996 he was working with me in IDEO’s San Francisco office, when I made a set of postcards to illustrate recent projects authored by our designers. One of those was a light designed by Takeshi when he was studying at the Royal College of Art in London. It was included in the Mutant Materials in Contemporary Design show at New York’s MoMA in 1995, curated by Paula Antonelli. Paula told me that he came to install the light for the exhibition and sat cross legged on the floor in front of the disassembled pieces for an hour and a half. Then he stood up and put everything together in five minutes.

Light Light by Takeshi Ishiguro, 1995

The feather lamp combines light, shadow, motion, and reflection, integrating high technology carbon fiber material with eggshell and feather. A carbon fiber rod extends vertically from the supporting base. A horizontal rod is balanced across the top, with a halogen lamp at the end, half enclosed by a cast form made of egg shells. The counterbalance is formed by a third rod that positions the feather of a dove just above the lamp. As the feather approaches, the convection current from the light source wafts it gently upward, casting a varying shadow on the ceiling above. The gently expanding and contracting shadow sooths with a hypnotic delicacy.

Book of Lights by Takeshi Ishiguro for Artecnica

In 2002 Takeshi established his Creative Lab in Tokyo to work on art and product design. He’s still interested in light, as you can see from this Book of Lights project for Artecnica. When closed it looks like a book, but pops up to form a glowing lamp as you open it.