SUBTLE: Delicate or Infinitesimal

SUBTLE: Delicate or Infinitesimal


Japan House London presents its third exhibition SUBTLE: Delicate or Infinitesimal, the ultimate exploration of Japanese minimalism and the delicate art of paper.  

Following hugely successful shows at Japan House’s international sister locations in Los Angeles and São Paulo, SUBTLE intends to reawaken our sense to the limitless possibilities of what can be done with fine paper. On view from 13 November – 24 December 2018, the exhibition presents works designed and crafted from among 15 creators living and working in Japan from diverse disciplines across art, animation, architecture, fashion, graphic design and literature. These unique creations will explore this fascination with paper, highlighting the individual choices of material and the diversity of textures, colours, techniques and applications specific to their creative practice. 

The exhibition originates from the 47th Takeo Paper Show, Japan’s only paper industry show, which has been held since 1965. It is known for working with top creators to take up the challenge of bringing out new potential from paper. Many of the innovative creations on display serve to highlight this delicate craft in a modern and contemporary light.  

Curated and directed by HARA Kenya, Chief Creative Director for the global Japan House project, the SUBTLE exhibition explores the influence of Japanese minimalism, inviting visitors to observe each innovative artwork up close and in minute detail.  

Divided into four parts, the works featured in SUBTLE represent the creative diversity behind this iconic Japanese craft. 

  • SUBTLE | CREATION: A showcase of the concept of SUBTLE as interpreted by objects designed and produced from among 15 multi-disciplinary creators working in Japan. 
  • SUBTLE | COLLECTION: A collection featuring examples of products that invite visitors to recall their own experiences related to the material on show, such as paper lace, envelopes, and Japanese objects, such as uchiwa paddle shaped fans. These items reflect the historic and cultural significance of paper craft. 
  • SUBTLE | PORTRAIT is a selection of photography from UEDA Yoshihiko who, through his work translates the Japanese passion for paper through the play between light and the subtle textures and folds in the material. 
  • SUBTLE on PRODUCTS: A presentation showcasing the continuous role technological development plays in paper innovation and setting trends within the design sector in Japan and globally.  

For details on SUBTLE: Delicate or Infinitesimal please visit:

WHEN:  Tuesday 13 November – Monday 24 December 2018

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

COST: Exhibition admission is FREE

Commenting on SUBTLE curator HARA Kenya: 

The first UK exhibition of its kind devoted to the delicacy, resilience and importance of paper as a creative medium, my intention with the SUBTLE exhibition is to rethink and broaden the possibilities for fine paper. On show are some highly creative applications for paper that push the boundaries of the medium and demonstrate the very subtle effect that these objects have on the viewer. By bringing these objects so close to the visitor, the white space not only evokes the minimalism of paper but provides a quiet space in which to look closely at its often overlooked and subtle qualities”.


During the exhibition The Shop at Japan House will introduce a range of exclusive paper craft products and the designers who make them. 

Examples include:

- ‘Air Vases’, by Torafu Architects, made from a single piece of paper and designed to be stretched and shaped into a vase, plate or bowl.

- Terada Mokei, architectural models produced on a 1:100 scale showing scenes as diverse as sumo wrestling tournaments, samurai battles and Tokyo station. 

Washi (handmade Japanese paper) postcards and letter writing sets.

- Paper Eden, flowers designed by flower artist EDENWORKS and made in collaboration with a paper maker in Yamanashi Prefecture named ONAO.

- SIWA, makers of everything from paper slippers to paper wallets. 

- ‘Subtle - the 47th Takeo Paper Show’, afinely bound and richly illustrated volume presenting the show's contents.



Visitors can not only discover the beautifully crafted objects on display, but also explore the limitless possibilities of paper in a series of hands-on workshops. Participants will create ‘air vases’ - elegant, self-standing structures designed from a single sheet of paper by Tokyo-based Torafu Architects. These workshops will be presented in collaboration with Takeo Co., Ltd., a specialty paper company built on the foundation of paper, design, and technology. Sign up to the Japan House London newsletter via or follow @JapanHouseLDN to be among the first to hear when further workshop details are announced.  

SUBTLE will be open to the public at Japan House London from Tuesday 13 November to Monday 24 December 2018. 

For more information, and to attend the press preview please contact Kallaway: or 0207 221 7883 


Japan House London is the new cultural centre 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 São Paulo. 

About Takeo Co., Ltd. 

Takeo is a Tokyo-based specialty paper company built on the foundation of paper, design and technology, determined to build a new paper culture and marketplace by collaborating with creators from various disciplinary fields. Since its inception in 1899, the company has shaped its own history as a specialty paper company. 

From the 1950s, based on collaboration between paper manufacturers and designers, Takeo Co., Ltd., has initiated research, development, and sales of fine paper, high-grade specialty printing paper with an emphasis on texture and colour, creating many original products. Basing their work on the origins of paper, Takeo has continued to take up the challenge of creating new markets, while meeting the need for diversification and sophistication in their offerings.  

About HARA Kenya

One of Japan’s most eminent designers, HARA Kenya is President of Nippon Design Center, Professor at Tokyo's Musashino Art University, Art Director of MUJI and Chief Creative Director of the global Japan House project. In the UK, Hara’s work has been exhibited in London at the Design Museum, the Science Museum and The Wellcome Collection. He has also authored books including 'White' (2009), 'Designing Design' (2015) and ‘Designing Japan: A Future Built on Aesthetics’ (2018).