Innovative designs by world-renowned design engineer and The University of Tokyo Professor Yamanaka Shunji are on display at Japan House’s latest exhibition Prototyping in Tokyo: Illustrating design-led innovation.

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Prototyping in Tokyo: Illustrating design-led innovation
16 January to 17 March 2019

Japan House London
101-111 Kensington High Street,
London W8 5SA

Forget virtual assistants such as Alexa or Siri and driverless cars named after Nikola Tesla, ‘Prototyping in Tokyo: Illustrating design-led innovation’ brings to London prototypes such as ‘Ready to Crawl’, a series of robots which are born fully formed just like a living thing, with all of their parts created at the same time, fully assembled, and with form and movement closely mirroring living things.

The three core exhibit themes at the Japan House include:

Additive Manufacturing: Taking prototyping to the next level with 3D-printing which has allowed engineers and designers to create infinitely more complex prototypes with textures and the “feeling of the future.”

Bio-Likeness Robots: Beyond metal and motors, Japanese researchers explore adding life-like motion and behaviour to robots, giving the impression of intelligence; for example, the robot ‘Apostroph’ examines the mechanisms that allow living organisms to stand.

Prosthetics: Various interpretations of the “expanded human body.”

Professor Yamanaka Shunji: When I design products for the market or prototypes for research, I don’t intentionally draw on Japanese aesthetics for inspiration. However, outside Japan, my works are often described as resembling ‘Japanese style’. An art director from France once told me that the attitude of cherishing a basic element and adding nothing conveys the sense of Japan. An architect from Italy said that my design is minimal and rich, and that that is ‘Japanese style’.

A professor from the USA described his understanding of ‘Japanese style’ to me as the fusion of organic and machine-made. Although, what I am doing is simply searching for the common ground between science and beauty, people tend to find various interpretations of Japanese aesthetics in my designs. I look forward to seeing how people in the United Kingdom feel about my works.

Founder of Leading Edge Design and professor at the University of Tokyo, Professor Yamanaka Shunji is one of the most respected design engineers in Japan, with previous works ranging from wristwatches to railway carriages. Recently, Yamanaka’s projects include beautiful prosthetics and life-like robots that re-examine the relationship between humans and machines.

Numerous honours include: The 2004 Mainichi Design Award, the iF Design Award, and multiple Good Design Awards (backed by the Japan Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Infrastructure).

His 2010 work, Tagtype Garage Kit, is part of the New York Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection.

Japan House London is the new cultural center offering visitors an experience of the best and latest from Japan. Located on London’s Kensington High Street, the experience is an authentic encounter with Japan, engaging and surprising even the most knowledgeable guests.

Presenting the very best of Japanese art, design, gastronomy, innovation, and technology, it deepens our appreciation of all that Japan has to offer. Part of a global initiative led by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, there are two other Japan Houses in Los Angeles and Sao Paulo.