From 17 July until 7 November 2021 Japan House London has the honour of hosting a selection of works by Tokolo Asao. Tokolo’s work with patterns and geometric shapes is presented through a variety of 2-D and 3-D media including ceramics, urushi (lacquer), woodwork, Edo kiriko cut glass and canvas prints, many created in collaboration with expert Japanese craftspeople. [CONNECT] Individual and Group, which begins as an encounter with his geometric shapes in the building’s windows and continues onward through installations on each floor, presents a selection of pieces and ideas from Tokolo’s work over the past 20 years.

Brought into the spotlight as the designer of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games’ Harmonized Chequered Emblem, Tokolo Asao is a trained architect, with a connection to London having studied at the Architectural Association, and works within the interdisciplinary fields of art, architecture and design to create striking patterns. His design for the emblem is made up of three specific rectangles that connect at every corner and can fill a circle perfectly. At first glance the simplicity and elegance is deceptive as further inspection reveals that the complexity of the arrangements is rooted in intricately thought-out logic. This design can be created with two simple tools: a compass and a ruler.

Since 11 September 2001, Tokolo has focused on exploring the idea of ‘connection’. His connected patterns are displayed in a variety of ways, across media such as recycled plastic, ceramics, wood and textiles, often produced in collaboration with skilled Japanese craftspeople in a variety of fields. Guests to Japan House are able to see, for example, his work incorporated into ceramic dishes and tiles from the renowned porcelain town of Arita in Saga Prefecture. In collaboration with ceramists in Arita, he has produced unusually shaped decahedron cups - practical, everyday items with a twist.

For the majority of his designs in this exhibition, Tokolo makes us of ai – Japanese indigo. Used heavily in dyeing since the Edo Period (1603-1868 CE), the colour is durable, weather-resistant and stays true over time.

Later in the run, workshops and talk events are set to take place alongside the display, offering visitors the chance to experience first-hand the creation process involved in designing patterns and creating geometric shapes. The exhibition is expected to extend beyond the boundaries of Japan House next month.

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About Tokolo Asao

Tokolo Asao (b.1969) studied architecture from a young age and now works in the interdisciplinary fields of art, architecture, and design. Since 11 September 2001, Tokolo has been producing patterns to the theme of ‘connecting’. Tokolo has been a lecturer at the University of Tokyo Faculty of Engineering since 2016 and a lecturer at the University of Tokyo College of Arts and Sciences since 2018.

About Japan House

Japan House London is a cultural destination offering visitors the opportunity to experience 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 the visitor’s 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, one in Los Angeles and the other in São Paulo.