installations and shows that caught our attention

designboom explores osaka art & design 2024

The second edition of Osaka art and design is in full swing and transforms the bustling city into a huge exhibition of almost 50 public art locations. Under the theme Expanding Resonance, the festival promotes interaction and collaboration between creatives from Japan and the rest of the world. It celebrates open expressions of beliefs, freedom from limitations and a spirit of solidarity. During our visit to the vibrant event, designboom delved into various locations and the creative worlds they reveal, from Maki Takato’s inflatable Hopeful Monsters, and a colossal tree installation on the ceiling of an Umeda hall for the dynamic neon light exhibition in the living room of the W Osaka hotel. Read more below to discover the projects that caught our attention.

diving into osaka art & design 2024: installations and shows that caught our attention
Hopeful Monsters by Maki Takato | image courtesy of Osaka Art & Design

Ray Kudo presents ‘VAPID’ at W Osaka

Emerging artist Ray Kudo (find more here) presents his exhibition VAPID in the living room of the luxury hotel W Osaka (find more here). This exhibition shows a series of neon light installations in which the color black plays a central role. The inspiration for VAPID comes from stories about Osaka merchants during the Edo period (1603-1867), when luxury was forbidden and clothing was strictly regulated. These fashion-conscious merchants covered their kimonos in rich, opulent designs and prints, and Kudo captures their playful spirit in his vibrant neon artworks.

W Osaka was designed by Tadao Ando with the concept of a playground for adults. The building’s minimalist black exterior contrasts with the lush, colorful interior, which is filled with artistic designs and decorations inspired by Japanese culture and the four seasons.

diving into osaka art & design 2024: installations and shows that caught our attention
VAPID by Ray Kudo at W Osaka | image courtesy of Osaka Art & Design

Inflatable hopeful monsters by Maki Takato

Visual artist Maki Takato (find more here) has created a series of intriguing inflatable objects, including a colossal golden face inspired by the artist himself and a pink and red hybrid insect monster, currently on display at Osaka’s Nankai Namba Station. The Air Sculpture Series consists of fabric balloons that change shape with the air, animated by internal sensors that respond to their environment, bringing these monsters to life. This dynamic installation encourages viewers to become aware of their own physicality and engage in self-reflection.

The installation explores the boundaries between human and non-human, nature and technology, and physical and non-physical entities from mythological and ethnological perspectives. The central piece, Hopeful Monster, explores the question: ‘What shapes can life take when it is infused with the dissonance in everyday scenes?’ Historically, the Japanese personified emotions like discomfort and fear, along with unexplained phenomena, in Yokai – pop culture characters – and shared them within their community to promote empathy. Takato’s work updates the Yokai theme for the modern age, depicting the myth of a woman transforming into a new life form with designs reminiscent of spiders and ants.

diving into osaka art & design 2024: installations and shows that caught our attention
Hopeful Monsters by Maki Takato | image © designboom

immersive textile installation ‘Nuno Nuno’ by we+

The immersive installation Nuno Nuno at the Takashimaya Osaka Store showcases the expressive textiles of the Sudo-led company NUNO (find more here). Designed by Reiko Sudo, known for her innovative textile creations, and contemporary design studio we+ (read more here), this installation fills the space with textile cubes with different patterns, textures and shades. The exhibition highlights four key production areas in NUNO’s collections – Kurume, Tsuruoka, Kyoto and Kiryu – that express the dynamic energy of modern Osaka. Featuring textiles related to light, such as ‘kira kira’ (sparkling) and ‘suke suke’ (translucent), the installation reflects the city’s vibrant future.

diving into osaka art & design 2024: installations and shows that caught our attention
the Nuno Nuno installation at the Takashimaya Osaka Store | image courtesy of Osaka Art & Design

the final chapter of Kota Mochizuki’s Green Seed installation

GREEN SEED is a large, time-limited green installation exhibited on the ceiling of a hall in Umeda, a bustling neighborhood in Osaka. The concept envisions a lush world emerging in the middle of a major city at the beginning of summer, with a wide variety of plants blooming together. These vibrant plants symbolize coexistence between people and nature and hope for the future. Since its inception in 2022, this annual early summer project has captivated passersby. In the third year, the final chapter, the seed will grow into a large tree, marking the culmination of the project.

This year’s installation covers the entire ceiling of the 9 meter high and 16.5 meter wide hall and shows the roots of a large tree. The roots, which hold the ground, represent the embrace of people’s dreams and hopes. The final chapter of this installation is supervised by Kota Mochizuki (see more here), a floral artist who focuses on eco-friendly approaches, with the 2024 installation featuring artificial flowers made from recycled plastic bottles.