Tag Archives: Japan

Yen for Champagne: Japan Set to Lead Asia-Pac

Forget Sake and Shochu. According to the latest Vinexpo study, it seems the Japanese are developing quite the taste for bubbly. In fact, the study forecasts that Japan is on track to become the leading market for champagne and other sparkling wines by 2019.

Thanks in part to the growing popularity of lower-priced Cavas and Proseccos from Spain and Italy, the consumption of sparkling wine has been forecasted to grow 23 percent between 2015 and 2019. To put things into perspective, this equates to roughly equates to 4.84 million cases, overshadowing Australia as the largest market for bubbly in Asia-Pacific. To put this into even greater, though perhaps more confusing, perspective, Japan has a population of 127 million while Australia has roughly 24 million. We have to wonder what in the world is happening down under but we digress…

world-oldest-champagne

 

The surprising result (the Japan news, not our belated Australia observation) was revealed at Vinexpo Hong Kong, a three-day trade-only show for international wine and spirits professionals. Japan is one of the six countries, besides Singapore, to be profiled.

Here are some of the other trends emerging from the event.

France losing market share to Chile

Chile has the signing of a cost-advantage free trade agreement with Japan to thank for its whopping 144 percent rise in wine exports. French wines might still have the largest market share but Italian and Spanish wines have also seen an increase of 46 percent and 79 percent respectively over the same period.

Wine consumption set to continue growing

The Japanese wine consumption is set to reach a whopping 46.7 million cases between 2015 and 2019. That’s 14 percent of the market share, which will rank the country behind China and Australia in the Asia-Pacific region. Yes, Australia is punching way above its weight class again.

Overall spirit consumption set to decline

Spirits such as gin and vodka are expected to decline in popularity, in stark contrast with the rising fortunes of wine. The projected decline between 2015 and 2019 is a significant but manageable 7 percent. Whisky, however, continues to keep its market share, with consumption reaching 12.38 million cases and projected growth of 12 percent over the next five years.

Download the Epicurio app on iTunes or Google Play now, to learn more about wines & spirits and purchase your very own bottle, today.

Mikimoto Celebrates One Year at Ion Orchard

Mikimoto, the Japanese jeweler specializing in the finest pearls, has called Ion Orchard its home for a year. To mark the occasion, the jeweler flew in several of its exclusive high jewelry pieces and even enlisted the help of dessert queen Janice Wong to create an edible art installation. To help us learn more about the collection, installation and history of the brand, was an interactive pearl bar. Here is what we learnt that evening from the jewels of the sea.

Established in 1893, the brand has been using cultured pearls to craft its elegant designs and selects only the finest of those that are harvested. From the start, the “King of Pearls” has blended traditional Japanese craftsmanship with European manufacturing techniques. Now, the jeweler has boutiques around the world, allowing lovers of the cultured South China Sea pearls to purchase the latest collections and designs by the brand that is known to be one of the world’s leading fine jewelers.Mikimoto-pearl-strand-necklace

For those willing to spend a little bit more, you will be happy to know that there may still be some time to get your hands on those beautiful creations before they are sent back. One of the stars featured was the necklace with Golden South Sea Pearls and diamonds. With each of the 17 pearls encapsulated within diamonds and set in infinity loops, this is set to be a show-stopper. The ribbon centerpiece detail along with the matching golden south sea pearl and diamond earrings, would be a nice addition to your collection — Just be willing to part with S$700,000.

The golden south sea pearl necklace with matching golden south sea pearl earrings.

The golden south sea pearl necklace with matching golden south sea pearl earrings.

In what seems to be an ode to the art deco period, another highlight of the high jewelry collection is the Akoya pearl and jade tassel necklace. Using 297 pearls to create a lariat and two delicate waterfall tassels, it is joined by a matching pair of earrings. The jade centerpieces, feature handcrafted designs that add to the allure of the design. A versatile creation, adjust the length of the tassels or create a choker by simply moving the centerpiece. Priced at S$150,000, it seem like a modest investment.

Akoya white south sea pearl necklace with tassels and matching white south sea pearl earrings.

Akoya white south sea pearl necklace with tassels and matching white south sea pearl earrings.

For those who are unable to decide between a white or gold south sea pearl, Mikimoto has another option with the multi-colored pearl necklace. The statement necklace features 57 pearls that have been carefully selected and stringed to form a beautiful gradient. Matching it, is a stunning golden south sea pearl ring with 1.02 carats. The pearl stands out in the ring, that can also create a statement on its own, due to its size — an impressive 12.49mm.

Multi-colored south sea pearl necklace with golden south sea pearl ring with diamonds.

Multi-colored south sea pearl necklace with golden south sea pearl ring with diamonds.

To learn more about Mikimoto and the brand’s high-jewelry collection, head down to its flagship boutique in ION Orchard or visit Mikimoto’s website.

 

Degustation: 3 Chefs Talk Creativity, Cuisine

Imagine sitting in a restaurant and savouring five to 10 exquisitely prepared dishes over a period of three or more hours. You get to taste the food on your palate, relish the visual spectacle on the plate, and indulge in the freshness of the produce and surprising combinations of flavour. These, combined with immaculate table service, are all part of the degustation experience. But what is degustation, really? Originating from the French word “dégustation”, the culinary term refers to a careful, appreciative tasting of various foods that focus on the gustatory (taste) system, the senses, high culinary art, and, of course, good company.

A degustation often involves the sampling of small portions of a chef’s signature dishes in one sitting. It usually begins with the lightest dishes that segue into heavier ones. In between, slightly acidic dishes such as sorbet act as palate cleansers. Cocktails and wines are also an important component of a degustation menu and are suggested as accompaniments to certain dishes.

This is a form of art and science that requires a chef to have an innate sense of gastronomical aesthetics and a knowledge of sophisticated culinary techniques, reflecting the chef’s creativity and innovation, and his or her propensity to induce a sense of curiosity and surprise in the diner.

Yoshiyuki Kashiwabara, Kaiseki YoshiyukiYoshiyuki Kashiwabara

Japan has its own version of degustation in the form of kaiseki. One of the highest degrees of culinary art in Japan, this traditional Japanese multi-course haute cuisine was derived from 16th century tea ceremony rituals in Kyoto. And no one knows it better than award-winning chef Yoshiyuki Kashiwabara, who spent seven years as the personal chef to Japanese ambassadors based in San Francisco and Singapore. According to Yoshiyuki – whose résumé includes a stint at the esteemed Kyoryori Hosoi in Tokyo, where he joined as a trainee and eventually headed the kitchen – the essence of kaiseki is an emphasis on natural flavours, a balance of taste and texture, and delicate presentation. 

What inspires your kaiseki menu?

Japan’s four seasons and the finest ingredients each season has to offer. For example, I will only use the chestnut in autumn – when it is at its freshest – and not in spring. When it comes to presentation, I will plate the dish with flowers and birds symbolic of a particular season.

Kaiseki Yoshiyuki Interior

Kaiseki Yoshiyuki Interior

What does your kaiseki menu include?

We have a seven-, eight- or nine-course kaiseki menu. For the latter, I create it on the day itself with the freshest and most refined ingredients available that day. It is done in the style of Omakase, which refers to a meal consisting of dishes that are selected by the chef – so it’s up to me. For the other menus, I start with Hassun which features the best vegetables of that season in the form of small appetisers. This is followed by Suimono, a soup with light broth. After this comes Tsukuri, which features sashimi such as akami (tuna) – also known as maguro – and chutoro, a fattier version of akami. Chutoro, or tuna belly, is a premium part of the tuna. When it’s fresh, its taste is unbeatable. I usually served it as small, sliced cubes so that it is not too rich for the palate.

How do you get your fresh produce?

Every morning at 1am, I call the suppliers from Tsukiji market, the largest fish market in Japan, to check what’s available that day. Sometimes, I fly to Japan to select the freshest ingredients in season and deal with suppliers directly, and have the ingredients flown in to the restaurant at least twice a week. If there’s an unforeseen circumstance (such as when a typhoon in Japan affects the produce), I will have to improvise and think of something different for the menu.

Hassun (seasonal vegetables appetiser) that features Japan’s spring

Taste, texture and presentation – how important are
these factors?

Creating subtle, fresh tastes, light textures and intricate food presentation is key. Whether it’s the thought process, the act of cooking or the presentation, it is of utmost importance to pay great attention to detail. Also, all the flavours have to be balanced and reflect the seasonal theme of the dish.

To what extent is kaiseki a form of art and showcase of technique?

Kaiseki cuisine requires a lot of patience, cooking and skilful knife techniques, especially when it comes to carving birds and flowers out of real food and plating them. I have a personal set of knives – they are my tools. A knife is very important to a chef, just like a brush is to a painter. In fact, the way you slice a fish can change its taste and texture.

Daikon (mild flavored winter radish) with crab

In three words, describe your brand of kaiseki.

Poetic, beautiful and pure.

What kind of kaiseki experience do you want diners to have at your restaurant?

I want them to feel good and healthy while tasting the freshest seasonal ingredients, all of which have high nutritional value.  And I want to bring them on a journey of Japan’s four seasons through the ingredients and the beauty of the dishes; I want to transport them from Singapore to Kyoto.

Ryan Clift, Tippling ClubRyan-Clift

Over the course of his 23-year career, Wiltshire-born Ryan Clift has worked with some of the world’s finest chefs, including Marco-Pierre White, Peter Gordon, Emmanuel Renaut, Shannon Bennett and Raymond Capaldi. In 1999, Clift was ran the show in the kitchen at Vue de Monde, one of Australia’s most acclaimed restaurants. 

What is your concept of degustation?

I believe that customers need a level of trust in the chef in order to select the degustation option for a meal. For me, it allows us to be truly creative – with the flexibility to select the freshest produce that may only be available on a particular day, or to create something special for a customer.

Snow Crab

Snow Crab

How important are taste, texture and presentation?

For me, taste and texture take precedence over presentation. Taste is always the most crucial factor, while textures make the dish that much more exciting and memorable for the diner. Presentation, for us, is based on coming up with the best way to showcase the ingredients and it’s quite fluid – we’re not sticklers for that.

What inspires your degustation menu?

Our latest menu reflects the kitchen team’s travels around the world, particularly Tokyo. The ingredients that we discover on our trips abroad constantly inspire us and we want to share that with our customers and introduce them to unique flavour profiles.

Mangalica Pork Collar

Mangalica Pork Collar

What are some of the highlights of this new menu?

We’ve got a number of really interesting dishes such as the Mangalica Pork Collar, where we brine the meat, then slow cook it for 19 hours at 72 degrees for fork-tender texture. It’s served with cinnamon-infused dashi broth, vegetables pickled in nuka (Japanese rice bran) and nori crackers – all made in-house.

The lobster menu is a really delicate dish of lobster from Brittany served with horseradish, chive gel and, for contrast, a puree of sea buckthorn for some acidity. We then pair it with the Daruma-Mazuma cocktail, which contains lime and lemon that reflect the acidity of the dish.

Our Snow Crab features a refreshing delicate crab salad made from Western Australian crab topped with sliced Kyoho grapes from the Yamanashi prefecture in Japan. It’s all about showcasing the best produce we can find and create matches that really excite the customers’ taste buds.

What kind of experience do you want guests to have with your degustation menu?

I believe everyone has his or her own unique experience. For me, I do not want my guests to feel like they’re in a stiff, formal restaurant, but rather, in a place that’s fun – with damn good food!

Kirk Westaway, Jaan

Kirk Westaway

Kirk Westaway

Growing up in Devon, England surrounded by farm-fresh produce, Westaway’s passion for only the most excellent ingredients is evident in his gastronomic creations. Recently promoted to Chef de Cuisine of Jaan, the 29-year-old spent a term at two-Michelin-starred The Greenhouse in London’s Mayfair. Last February, he was crowned the South East Asian regional winner in the semi-finals of the inaugural S. Pellegrino Young Chef 2015 competition.   

What inspires your degustation menu?

Ingredients are what inspire me, they change all the time depending on what produce is at peak. We have five to seven courses that are set and printed daily, depending on the availability I get that day from each fish, meat and vegetable.

The 10-course, being the inspirational menu, is not printed – I create the dishes on the spot before they come in and as they go along during the dining experience, depending on availability. For example, I might have live lobster from Scotland, but that could change to a different fish or meat according to how many dishes are served that night.

I am open to ideas. I talk to diners and listen to their feedback. I value their opinions; sometimes, they inspire me.Jaan at Swissotel The Stamford

What is your most intricate dish?

The Tomato Collection – it’s fresh, clean, sweet and savoury, and has a smooth texture. It is a tomato within a tomato. Firstly, we hollow out the centre of the vine-ripened tomato, semi-dry the part that is taken out overnight, chop it up and add some fresh shallots, parmesan, capers, smoked olive oil and other good ingredients, and stuff them back inside the vine tomatoes. It takes 16 hours for them to dry. We also make some tomato water, add basil sorbet and croutons for crunch. People think they are just looking at a tomato, but when they slice it open, they see all work that goes into it. 

In what sequence are the dishes presented?

Step by step, from warm to dense and complex. The menu usually starts off with a Langoustine Cannelloni dish served ice cold. The next dish is served at room temperature – one example is the Tomato Collection. This is followed by an egg that’s served at 55 degrees, then fish with a hot sauce right off the stove. I always finish off with meat and then a palate cleanser before dessert.

Langoustine Cannelloni

Langoustine Cannelloni

How much emphasis do you place on presentation?

My main focus is on taste but I try to make every plate pretty as well; my style of presenting is clean, tidy and elegant. I like to put interesting items on each plate. Colour is important – I generally finish plating dishes with fresh and unique green herbs, and flowers, such as fennel blossom, garlic flowers or carrot flowers – all of which you might not see locally.

How do you come up with all the combinations of flavours and textures in your degustation menu?

We have many ingredients, all of which become different components in each dish. Each flavour serves a purpose, and complements another. For example, when I cook a meat with a sauce, and it works, I’ll leave it. But if I think it needs something interesting, a bit of richness, a bit of crunch, a bit of acidity or sweetness, then I’ll add ingredients accordingly. But if I taste the dish and I feel that one of the elements is not needed, I’ll take it out straight away.

Tomato Collection

Tomato Collection

What sort of experience do you want diners to have?

I want to create memories and evoke emotions. The menu might look simple, but when the food comes, diners are impressed by how intricate the dishes are. They get to taste fresh organic vegetables, fine cheese and flavoursome quality products from around the world. It’s not just a meal to fill your stomach, but also a multi-sensory experience put together by the culinary team.

Story Credits

Text by Abigail Chia

This story was first published in L’Officiel Singapore. 

Rakuten “Sora Raku” Drone Delivery Service

Starting 9th May, hungry golfers in Japan will no longer have to leave the greens for a snack, thanks to Rakuten’s latest initiative, the “Sora Raku” delivery service.

Its first client, the Camel Golf Resort in Chiba Prefecture, Japan will see “Tenku” drones delivering snacks, beverages, golf equipment and other items to players at various pick up points on the golf course.

With a touch on the Android app, golfers can conveniently place orders, track delivery and make payment for their order. All that’s left to do after is to wait for one of the company’s bright pink drones to appear with the order.

Rakuten’s decision to expand this service to other golf courses and even sparsely populated areas and mountainous regions depends on the success of this pilot.

Watch this video to learn more about the “Sora Raku” delivery service:

Focus: Art of Toko Shinoda

Toko Shinoda is a woman and an artist ahead of her time. In an era when most women were confined to domesticity, Shinoda successfully married traditional calligraphy and abstract expressionism, rising above her culture to become one of Japan’s foremost modern abstract artists and modern practitioners of the ancient art of calligraphy. Her works are defined by strong yet elegant marks or brush strokes, skilfully balanced by ‘yohaku’ (empty space) – perhaps a clear indication of the woman Shinoda is: bold, feminine and fiercely independent.

Born in 1913 in Dairen, Manchuria, and raised in Tokyo, Japan, Shinoda was heavily influence by her father, the one and only mentor she ever had. Her father’s granduncle was an official seal-carver for the Meiji Emperor, and hence a master in sculpting and calligraphy, inculcating his skills and love for Chinese poetry in Shinoda’s father. At the tender age of six, Shinoda started practicing calligraphy, marking the beginning of the artist’s fascination with sumi ink. However the artist did not willingly abide by the rules of the masters of the ancient writing system, one she felt was rigid and ‘boring’, and started experimenting with the abstraction of the form in her 20s. Then, she also presented the first one-woman exhibit of calligraphy at Kyukyodo Gallery, Tokyo.

Before Shinoda made her way to the United States in 1956 – a time when it was rare for a Japanese to travel out of the country – she had already made a name for herself in art circles. Shinoda had works exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and was commissioned to create murals for the Japanese Pavilion at international trade and culture expositions in the United States, Brazil and Sweden in the early 1950s. Represented by the gallery of Betty Parsons, the doyenne of Abstract Expressionist gallerists, Shinoda was largely inspired by her contemporaries, including Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Jasper Johns, and started focusing on abstract expressionism in her works.

Silver Spring

Silver Spring

The beauty of Shinoda’s works transcends cultures, languages and social classes. Her artworks are traditional Japanese paper (mostly Japanese washi), Chinese paper, Western paper as well as sheets of gold, silver and platinum. These have been conscientiously used since the start of her artistic life, exuding a sense of Oriental appeal beyond the Western artistic touches. An expert in classical Chinese and Japanese literature, Shinoda depicts elements of the literary art form in her works. Yet, it is not essential for viewers to be able to read or understand the meaning of those characters; they can feel the power of the work from the strength of the lines and strokes. In her works, the calligraphic characters are merely abstract forms that eradicate the need for comprehension.

Reminiscence

Reminiscence

Print works are also part of the Shinoda’s oeuvre. Using lithography, the artist created fluid print editions of not more than 50. In 2007, Shinoda ceased her successful career as a printmaker to devote her time to painting. At present, at the ripe old age of 102, the artist who used paint on a daily basis now only paints when the mood strikes.

Today, Shinoda’s works can be found in many permanent collections all over the world, including the Guggenheim Museum, MoMA, British Museum, Cincinnati Art Museum, Hague Museum, Art Institute of Chicago, Tokyo National Museum of Modern Art, Singapore National Museum, Museum fur Ostasiatische Kunst and the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations. She counts the Japanese imperial family as fans and collectors of her works, with the latter showcasing Shinoda’s works in the public rooms of the new Imperial Palace in Kyoto and Her Majesty, The Empress of Japan attending two of Shinoda’s exhibitions.

Esteem

Esteem

Demonstrating simplicity and poise in her creations, Shinoda has a flair that is unique and inimitable. An exceptional woman and artist, Shinoda’s spirit definitely shines through in her exquisite art pieces.

*For more information, please visit www.katoartduo.com

Story Credits

Text by Melody Boh

This article was originally published in Art Republik

Orchards Niseko, Hokkaido Japan

The Orchards Niseko is located on the northern most Japanese island of Hokkaido and on the eastern side of Hirafu. The resort boasts double mountain views of Mount Yotei—which is also known as the Mount Fuji of Hokkaido—and the ski hill, Mount Annupuri. The area is popular during the winter months but tourists are also attracted to the temperate climate, fresh air, quality food and wide array of outdoor activities which include hiking, cycling and golf offered during the green season, making it a year-round destination. Property demand has climbed alongside tourism figures and developers are taking advantage of the opportunities.

Unique features in houses at The Orchards Niseko include high ceilings, exposed beams, open plan living, and traditional Japanese entrances and hallways.

Unique features in houses at The Orchards Niseko include high ceilings, exposed beams, open plan living, and traditional Japanese entrances and hallways.

The Orchards Niseko is a master planned estate development with 40 residential land plots of pre-designed and custom homes; buildings will have complementary designs and finishes. They will all have similar styles which fit within the design parameters of the community and incorporate extensive use of timber, stone and glass. Buyers of custom homes are shown a design board and product samples to help in the process of choosing the type and color of external timber cladding, stonework, and the overall interior design of the 300m2 (3,229sf) space.

'Washi no Su' is a custom designed home which has 350sqm of living area.

‘Washi no Su’ is a custom designed home which has 350sqm of living area.

Alternatively, the process can be delegated by an architect and project manager, if buyers prefer. Construction process span approximately six months and may differ depending on the complexity of design requirements.

Each house will be strategically positioned in consideration of view channels and privacy. Externally, The Orchards houses are required to use selected colors from a master color palette; yet, no two house will be identical. Internally, the houses feature high ceilings of up to 6.5 meter above floor level on the upper level, exposed beams, large Japanese-style baths, open plan living, kitchen and dining areas as well as traditional Japanese entrances and hallways.

gcp_131224_washinosu

For example, ‘Washi no Su’ is a custom designed four-bedroom, six-bathroom home which has 350m2 (3,767sf) of living area with a garage, living space upstairs and downstairs, vaulted ceiling in the two master bedrooms. Other custom designed homes include the four-bedroom ‘Goyomatsu’ and ‘Kashi’, and the six-bedroom ‘Keyaki’ and ‘Winterhaven’. Pre-designed homes are such as the ‘Akagashi’ and ‘Kuromatsu’ which are three-bedroom and three-bathroom homes boasting 200m2 (2,152sf) and 202m2 (2,174sf) of living area respectively.

'Keyaki' is a six-bedroom custom designed home.

‘Keyaki’ is a six-bedroom custom designed home.

‘Akagashi’ has a traditional alpine roof design while ‘Kuromatsu’ has a gable roof design. Both open up to views of Hirafu’s ski hills, a farm and Mount Yotei.

'Winterhaven' is a custom designed six-bedroom home located on plot 40 with approximately 9,000sf of land.

‘Winterhaven’ is a custom designed six-bedroom home located on plot 40 with approximately 9,000sf of land.

Facilities in the Orchards include a clubhouse which features an owner’s lounge, open fireplace, reception area, multi-purpose space which can accommodate up to 80 people, gym and kitchen. There is also a pond, walking track, mature cherry, walnut, and pine trees, and a vegetable garden for guests and owners—especially nature lovers—to enjoy.

'Goyomatsu' is a custom designed four-bedroom home

‘Goyomatsu’ is a custom designed four-bedroom home

Rental returns fluctuate considering demand and running costs but investors can expect one to three per cent return per annum subject to the frequency and time of owner’s usage. Occupancy is expected to be above 50 per cent during the peak winter ski season and close to full occupancy during the winter holiday periods which usually run from Christmas to Chinese New Year. Midori no Ki (MnK)—Japanese property management company which manages the Orchards Niseko—encourages owners to provide feedback on nightly rental rates, however, the rates and inventory of rooms are managed dynamically (changes occur daily in some cases) to maximize revenue for each owner. Financing for home purchases can be obtained via Niseko Resorts Group on a case-by-case basis. Owners may choose to rent their homes or keep them for personal use.

Clubhouse facilities and other amenities at The Orchards Niseko allow guests to enjoy both indoor and outdoor activities

Clubhouse facilities and other amenities at The Orchards Niseko allow guests to enjoy both indoor and outdoor activities

Buyer Information
Property: The Orchards Niseko
Location: Niseko, Hokkaido, Japan
Developer: Niseko Resorts Group
Highlights:
Double mountain views of Mount Yotei and the ski hill, Mount Annupuri
Selection of pre-designed and custom homes
Extensive use of timber, stone and glass
Each house strategically positioned in consideration of view channels and privacy
High ceilings of up to 6.5 metre, large Japanese-style baths, open plan living, kitchen and dining areas, Japanese entrances and hallways
Open fireplace, bar, multi-purpose space, gym, pond and walking track
Occupancy is expected to be above 50 per cent during the peak winter ski season and close to full occupancy during the winter holiday periods
Price: Price on application
Contact: + 81 (0)136 555 122 or [email protected]

Story Credits
Text by Domenica Tan

This article was originally published in PALACE Magazine

Bally Opens Flagship Store in Ginza

Swiss luxury brand Bally has opened a flagship store in the upmarket shopping district of Ginza. This marks a new chapter for the brand in Japan, and, to celebrate this, they’ll be unveiling an exhibition of pieces (titled Bally Untold) from their archives running till May 8, taking viewers through 100 years of its history.

Bally Ginza store - exterior 1

The Tokyu Plaza building stands at what is considered the ‘gate’ of Ginza, and the Bally store is located right there. Collaborating with David Chipperfield Architects, the flagship store stands out with a 50 meter brass aluminum façade running the width. The 845 square meters of space is set over two floors, with the ground floor dedicated to accessories and ready-to-wear collections, as well as the special Gentleman’s Corner. The second floor houses the VIP room and a space dedicated to events, which is also the space for the Bally Untold exhibition. Timber walling combined with a continuous white ceiling, spotted with light-tubes, creates and elegant modern atmosphere.

Bally Ginza store - interior 4

The Gentleman’s Corner is dedicated solely to Bally’s expertise in shoemaking and shoe care. With its Made to Order and Made to Color services, customers will be able to create personalized shoes and belts with multiple color and material combinations. The VIP room is a private room for a more intimate and exclusive shopping experience, with its own private fitting room and service area.

Bally Ginza store - interior 9

Exclusive for the Ginza opening, Bally will also reissue four shoe styles based on archive pieced dated to the 1930s. The limited edition shoes in D’Orsay style with a Louis XV heel come in red and blue silks punctuated with gold and silver leather.

Bally Ginza store - interior 7

This is only one of the steps in an ambitious 15 store global rollout planned for 2016. After this Japan venture, the next flagship Bally aims to set up will be in Beijing, later in the year. These steps will surely cement the company, which came into establishment in 1851, further on the industry’s map.

For more information, you can check out Bally’s website here.

Focus: Art Collective TeamLab

TeamLab is an artist collaborative that brings together creative professionals from disparate disciplines to realise visionary art projects. Founded in 2001 by Toshiyuki Inoko, the team has grown to more than 400 people, including architects, artists, composers, computer graphics animators, editors, engineers, graphic designers, mathematicians and programers.

A multi-tasking outfit, TeamLab operates out of its Tokyo-based office. It offers creative solutions and innovative ideas through products such as interactive software and mobile applications, and of course, its artworks. Calling themselves ultra-technologists, the members contribute their unique expertise to create signature cross-disciplinary artworks that blur and push the boundaries between art and technology.

TeamLab had its first exhibition in 2011 at Japanese contemporary artist Takashi Murakami’s Kaikai Kiki Gallery in Taipei. Since then, interest in its artworks has grown steadily. TeamLab has exhibited in other parts of the world, such as at the Singapore Biennale 2013, at Pace Gallery in New York in 2014, and in Europe at events such as Expo Milan 2015 and Art Paris Art Fair 2015. Earlier his year, TeamLab was also shortlisted for the ‘Best Emerging Artist Using Digital and Video’ award at the Prudential Eye Awards, and exhibited new works at START Art Fair 2015, presented by Prudential and held at Saatchi Gallery in London.

Interactive Digital Art

Installation view of Harmony and Diversity for the Japan Pavilion at Expo Milano 2015

Installation view of Harmony and Diversity for the Japan Pavilion at Expo Milano 2015

TeamLab creates digital art. This is different from video art, which runs from beginning to end in a finite pre-choreographed sequence, and when exhibited, is played in loop that remains the same each time it is presented. Video art is also independent of the audience’s actions. In contrast, the digital art that TeamLab creates is neither pre-taped nor replayed. Rather, it is a computer program that is able to run endlessly, and what is seen is dependent on the audience’s interactions with the artwork.

In making its digital artworks, TeamLab is deeply influenced by what has come before in Japanese art. It has coined a special term, “ultrasubjective space”, which refers to “the logical structure of the spatial awareness of ancient Japanese”. Although Japanese paintings are often considered flat in contrast to Western paintings, TeamLab sees it as an equally logical perspective to view the world. This is an underlying principle in the making of its digital artworks.

Play! TeamLab Future Park at Miraikan

Play! TeamLab Future Park at Miraikan

 

Japanese Culture and Way of Life

In August 2014, Pace Gallery New York presented TeamLab’s first exhibition in America, aptly named ‘Ultra Subjective Space’. On display were six artworks including five large-scale digital monitor pieces, as well as the immersive digital installation ‘Crows are Chased and the Chasing crows are Destined to be Chased as Well, Division in Perspective – Light in Dark’. This was spread out across seven staggered screens, showing Yatagarasu, a three-legged crow in Japanese mythology, flying through the screens, leaving in its wake what TeamLab called “spatial calligraphy”, a digital trail of the crow’s movements.

Another work in the exhibition, ‘Cold Life’, was equally inspired by Japanese culture. Based on the Japanese and Chinese character 生, pronounced sheng, meaning life, the strokes that made up the character morphed into a tree – a fitting commentary on the magical power of nature. It was also a technological marvel in its Ultra High Definition (Ultra HD) display – four times the resolution of Full High Definition (FHD) – to show off the technical intricacies that made the work possible.

Dance!@ Art Exhibition at Miraikan

Dance!@ Art Exhibition at Miraikan

There is inherent pride in Japanese culture that comes through in all of TeamLab’s works. For the Singapore Biennale in 2013, the work ‘Peace can be Realized Even without Order’, drew from the traditional Awa Dance Festival. The artwork, exhibited at the Singapore Art Museum, featured a group of male dancers in holograms wearing printed kimonos playing instruments. When a visitor came into proximity with a dancer, he would stop moving and making music, which in turn made his neighbouring dancers do the same. Soon however, the dancing and music resumed. Peace, represented by the convivial atmosphere of merry-making, would be restored.

It is not only from cultural forms that TeamLab takes inspiration for its works, but also the Japanese way of life. For the Japan Pavilion at Expo Milano 2015, which opened in May this year and will close at the end of October, two works are shown: ‘Harmony’ and ‘Diversity’. In ‘Harmony’, screens are placed horizontally at knee and waist levels for visitors to walk past, transporting them to the rice fields of Japan. This simulation allows the visitor to experience the change of seasons throughout the year. The artwork effectively communicates the delicate and harmonious relationship shared between people and nature.

Complementing the focus on Japanese food, in ‘Diversity’, images of food items from Japan are placed against a computer-generated waterfall. Visitors are able to transfer these enticing pictures, together with details about the delicacies onto their smartphones, taking away the experience of the artwork with them. It is an innovative way to share information about a distinctive part of the Japanese way of life.

Play! TeamLab Future Park at Miraikan

Play! TeamLab Future Park at Miraikan

Nature in Japanese Art

The imageries that TeamLab uses are for the most part derived from nature, including water, birds, flowers, insects and trees. TeamLab is particularly taken by the depiction of water in traditional Japanese paintings, which it remains faithful to in their digital artworks. Speaking to Art Republik, Takashi Kudo from TeamLab noted that the way water is traditionally depicted in Western art and Japanese art are vastly different. For example, while the former may hint at rain through the subjects’ use of umbrellas or the glistening of a wet rock, the latter uses curvilinear lines to represent rain itself.

In an exploration of the Japanese way of portraying water, TeamLab created ‘Universe of Water Particles’, a waterfall made of digitally created water particles and lines. It has been exhibited at different locations, including the Dojima River Biennale 2013 and Art Stage Singapore 2014. In March this year, the work was projected on the façade of the Grand Palais by invitation from Bogéna Galerie, as part of Art Paris Art Fair 2015 in March.

Installation view of What a Loving and Beautiful World at Shake Art Exhibition

Installation view of What a Loving and Beautiful World at Shake Art Exhibition

Flowers often take centre stage in TeamLab’s artworks. ‘Floating Flower Garden – Flowers and I are of the Same Root, the Garden and I are One’ is a work by TeamLab that is made up of an explosion of flowers. The colourful work features over 2300 flowers, each with an accompanying insect. As each visitor enters the space, flowers that are “disturbed” by the intrusion float up and hover in a dream-like flower halo. As the visitor moves away, the flowers float back down to occupy the space that he or she has left. If there are many visitors in the interactive kinetic installation at a time, then the flowers move to form one big dome that surrounds all of them. This will be shown at the 20th anniversary instalment of the Maison&Objet Paris fair in September.

Flutter of Butterflies Beyond Borders, interactive digital installation for START Projects at Saatchi Gallery, 2015

Flutter of Butterflies Beyond Borders, interactive digital installation for START Projects at Saatchi Gallery, 2015

TeamLab often makes variations of a work. For instance, there is ‘Flowers and People – Dark’ and ‘Flowers and People – Gold’, which show shifting fields of flowers in two colour schemes. As one walks through each installation, the flowers goes through their life cycles, budding, blooming and finally withering away. Similarly, the works ‘Ever Blossoming Life II – Dark’ and ‘Ever Blossoming Life II – Gold’ present the predictable life cycle of flowers, one with a dark background and the other with a gold background. Surrounded by responsive screens of animation, the viewer experiences a simulated Zen garden that responds to his or her movements.

Besides recreating nature in controlled environments, TeamLab has worked directly in the great outdoors where the digital worlds it creates co-exist with the natural world. In an upcoming project for 2016, ‘Resonating Trees – Forest of Tadasu at Shimogamo Shrine’, a light show will be installed among the trees that line the way to the World Heritage site of Shimogamo Shrine. With the approach of people or animals, the light that each tree is bathed in will change its colour, bringing attention to the presence of other living beings in a serene and poetic commentary on the ecosystem we all live in.

Sights and Sounds

To facilitate its immersive environment, TeamLab adds sounds to its visually captivating artworks, giving the audience a multi-sensory experience. In ‘Resonating Spheres and Night Fish’, currently on show until December at the Enoshima Aquarium in Kanagawa, Japan, spheres of light on the walls and ceilings change their colours upon touch, accompanied by a change in sound, which is unique to each colour. As this happens, the other spheres also react to the shifts, and momentarily emit the same colours and sounds as part of a chain reaction.

Flutter of Butterflies Beyond Borders, interactive digital installation for START Projects at Saatchi Gallery, 2015

Flutter of Butterflies Beyond Borders, interactive digital installation for START Projects at Saatchi Gallery, 2015

TeamLab has a long-time music collaborator, Hideaki Takahashi, who has produced soundtracks for many of its works, including ‘Resonating Spheres and Night Fish’, as well as ‘Floating Instrument’ back in 2010, ‘Flowers and People – Gold and Dark’ in 2014, and most recently ‘Flowers and People, Cannot be Controlled but Live Together – Dark’, ‘Floating Flower Garden – Flowers and I are of the same root, the Garden and I are one’ in 2015, among others. The music serves to envelop the visitors and helps them to transition from real world to the alternate realities that TeamLab creates.

Inspiring the Next Generation

As innovators, TeamLab is far seeing not only in the works it realises, but also in the potential for their works to connect and inspire people. In particular, the artist collaborative has its sights set on grooming the younger generation through introducing them to new ways of learning, playing and eventually, in the future, working. A key idea is the importance of working in collaboration with others rather than in isolation.

Back in Japan, TeamLab’s first major solo exhibition at home opened at Tokyo’s National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, also known as Miraikan, in November 2014. The exhibition had two sections that displayed 18 artworks from the artist collective’s oeuvre: ‘Dance! Art Exhibition’ and ‘Learn and Play! TeamLab Future Park’. The latter featured children-friendly artworks. The exhibition was a huge success, with nearly half a million visitors coming through the museum’s doors. ‘Learn and Play! TeamLab Future Park’ was a first step in the artist collaborative’s forward efforts to provide a platform for children to see the fun in being creative, an indispensable quality that TeamLab believes is not encouraged, let alone groomed in an education system they believe places emphasis on rote learning.

Nirvana at Shake Art Exhibition

Nirvana at Shake Art Exhibition

One artwork, ‘Sketch Town’, was a three-dimensional town built on the two-dimensional drawings of cars, buildings and the like from children, allowing them to see “in reality” the fruits of their imagination. Furthermore, the children’s drawings were also made into paper-craft patterns that they could then take home to turn into three-dimensional models. Another interactive installation, ‘Sketch Aquarium’, worked on the same idea, and to make it more interactive, the children could touch the sea creatures they drew to feed them or make them swim away.

Coming Up

The momentum that TeamLab has gained over the past few years shows no signs of slowing down. At START art fair from 10 to 13 September, TeamLab showcased as part of START Projects. This marked the first time the artist collaborative exhibited in London, and a book documenting its oeuvre launched at the same time.

Altogether, TeamLab showcased three works: ‘Flowers and People, Cannot be Controlled but Live Together – A Whole Year’, ‘Dark, Ever Blossoming Life II – Dark’ and ‘Flutter of Butterflies beyond Borders’. As with other TeamLab works, the visitors’ movements have an impact on what happens on screen.

Flower and Corpse Glitch at Shake Art Exhibition

Flower and Corpse Glitch at Shake Art Exhibition

In addition, the artworks will interact with each other as well. The butterflies are free to flit through the other two works that are on display, creating a single immersive experience. The butterflies’ flight paths are altered by the visitor’s direct interaction with it. Kudo explains that if one touches a butterfly, for examples, it dies, as it might in real life, where human interaction with nature has the potential to nurture and equally to harm. The butterflies’ movements are also influenced by what happens with the other movement-sensitive artworks in the same space.

TeamLab is daring and ahead of its time in the execution of their artworks through ground-breaking vision and advanced methods. While TeamLab’s artworks seem avant-garde, they are also accessible. Combining the traditional with the contemporary – and at times the futuristic – TeamLab has pioneered a new model of art-making that pays homage to and preserves its country’s artistic heritage by presenting it in a way that is entertaining and exciting. More importantly, it is encouraging a new way of thinking and working for the next generation – a legacy that any artist can be proud of.

Peace can be Realized Even Without Order at Singapore Biennale 2013

Peace can be Realized Even Without Order at Singapore Biennale 2013

Story Credits

Text by Nadya Wang

This story first appeared in Art Republik.

Tanaka Goes for Gold on Japan’s Children’s Day

Jewelry store Tanaka, located in Ginza, is celebrating Children’s Day in style this year with a sale of samurai helmets ornamented in gold and silver, worth tens of thousands of dollars each. The festival occurs May 5, and the sale went on ahead of time last week.

Children’s Day was originally a celebration exclusively for boys and fathers, and was called Boy’s Day in the past. This was in contrast to another festival called Girls’ Day, that occurs March 3. During this period of celebration (for Children’s Day), displaying items signifying vitality and strength is common, including carp-shaped flags and traditional samurai helmets. For Girls’ Day, also called Doll’s Day, ornately crafted dolls are displayed instead.

The Tanaka Kikinzoku Group, in charge of the Tanaka store, have celebrated the festival with such glitz before. In 2013 they designed gold samurai helmets with Disney Mickey Mouse logos. This year’s collection has designs modeled off helmets actually worn by famous warriors in the past (one example being the legendary shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu). They often had original helmet designs for self-identification, with traits like deer antlers or crescent moons.

According to the store, each helmet is made with up to 430 grams (15 ounces) of gold, worth as much as six million yen ($53,700), and are suited as an investment asset besides being beautifully crafted objects.

This story was written in-house, referencing wire stories. The image is courtesy of the AFP.

Issey Miyake and Iittala Bring Harmony to Dinner

Issey Miyake, the Japanese fashion designer famous for his luxuriant pleats, has teamed up with the famous Finnish design store Iittala on a homeware collection entitled “Pause for Harmony”. Miyake and Iittala view homes as integral to the many activities of our daily lives, such as relaxing, working, socializing, and shopping and their collection honors this. Of course, the home is where we live so it is somewhat important, in our opinion. If you only see it briefly before hitting the sack, perhaps this collection can motivate you to spend a little quality time there. The overarching design of the textiles and tableware exudes a sense of calm with its muted minimalism on display in mainly whites, blacks, grays, greens and pastel pinks. Iittla-Issey-Miyake-2

The collection is built on the idea of “harmony to everyday life”, and to celebrate “the rituals of domestic life by setting a gentle mood with its colors and delicate shapes”. Plates and platters come in sleek pentagons with rounded edges while handle-less cups call to mind the simplicity of Japanese teacups with a modern twist. The tea light candleholder is shaped in the same fashion but comes only in white while a single flower vase tops off the tableware set.Iittla-Issey-Miyake-1

Miyake’s signature pleating in textiles is evident with the collection’s placemats and cushions. Yet the effect we usually see on the runway is not reproduced wholesale. The effect created is more akin to flowing water or soft rains, with its vertical rundowns. Others, like the Tote bags, come with chevron-like designs. Napkins and Table-Flowers add an elegant touch to the set. Also included is a 2-meter long roll of pleated fabric that can be used as a table runner, a curtain, or a throw for a chair or sofa.

Iittala was founded in 1881, and started off as a blown-glass factory. Its most famous piece is the Savoy Vase, created by Alvar Aalto in 1936. Miyake formed his label in 1970, expanding to menswear, womens-wear, ready-to-wear collections, and an accessory line.

To view the “Pause for Harmony” collection, click here.

Surfing in Suits: Quicksilver True Wetsuits

We’re all familiar with the phrase “business in the front and party in the back” with regard to clothes and hairstyles but Quiksilver has brought the versatility of work and play to a whole new level with the True Wetsuits collection. Basically, golf is not the only kind of sporting activity that you can network at soon. Our friends at Men’s Folio Singapore had the story and we just had to share it! With its innovative spirit that never fails to amaze, Quiksilver has rallied available technology to come up with three different business suits that can be worn straight into the water.

For the modern gentleman who relishes scaling the corporate ladder as much as chasing waves, the collection offers the Party Tuxedo as well as two authentic single-breasted suits in black and navy – Office Smart and Casual Friday respectively – that function as perfectly in the ocean as they do in the boardroom.

The level of details invested into the design of the suits is stunning. Two-millimeter thick super stretchy jersey neoprene, the same fabric used for regular wetsuits, make up the jacket, pants, and tie. The material is firmly held together with a special wetsuit production method with glued and blind-stitched seams (GBS), while pinholes do not penetrate the fabric so as to prevent water from leaking into the suit. Pockets have been designed not to catch water while surfing, with a fastener and drain hole on the left breast inside pocket, where electronic devices can be carried. Side vents on the jacket also ensure comfort and utter ease of movement. Never fear staining the crisp-collared dress shirt, which is made with four-way stretch Dryflight fabric that is best known as the material used for board shorts.

In order to ensure the best fit, all True Wetsuits orders are available only as made-to-measure pieces that can be ordered through the Quiksilver Japan website. Despite the sleek, structured lines and the intense attention to design details that bring it up to the standard of sartorial finesse, it’s quite clear that the collection is a new animal altogether. It brings a whole new angle and dimension to the idea of pushing the boundaries of style and functionality in fashion, and reminds us that truly nothing is impossible.

Story credits

By Rachel Ang

At this point, before you head off to Quiksilver Japan, do note the website is in Japanese, for some reason. We are also unsure why only the Japanese site is offering this (ok surfing is very popular with the working set in Japan but still…). The video here is also from Japan for that market but it is crazy cool.

Sushi Boss Pays $117,000 for Bluefin Tuna

An outcry followed the news of this sale breaking. Basically, a Japanese sushi boss shelled out more than $117,000 January 5 for a giant bluefin tuna. This happened at Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market as it held its last New Year auction ahead of a much-needed modernization move.

Bidding stopped at a whopping 14 million yen for the enormous 200-kilogram (440-pound) fish – a threatened species – that was caught off Japan’s northern coast. That works out to $585 per kg. Believe it or not, this is not a record price and it is perfectly legal as trading in blue fin tuna is not outlawed.

The price was three times higher than last year but still far below the record 155.4 million yen paid by the sushi chain operator in 2013 – when a Hong Kong restaurant chain weighed in and drove up bidding – for a slightly larger (222-kg) fish of similar quality.

The New Year auction is a traditional feature at Tsukiji, where bidders pay way over the odds for the prestige of buying the first fish of the year.

But it came as Japan, the world’s largest consumer of bluefin tuna, faces growing calls for a trade ban on the species, which environmentalists warn is on its way to extinction.

The population of Pacific bluefin tuna is set to keep declining “even if governments ensure existing management measures are fully implemented”, Amanda Nickson, director of Global Tuna Conservation at the Pew Charitable Trusts, said in a release.

Bluefin is usually the most expensive fish available at Tsukiji, the biggest fish and wholesale seafood market in the world.

A single piece of “otoro”, or the fish’s fatty underbelly, can cost up to several thousand yen at high-end Tokyo restaurants. The growing popularity of Japanese sushi worldwide has stoked demand elsewhere.

“Given the already dire state of the population – decimated to just four percent of unfished levels – it is of particular concern that the auction price is rising again,” Nickson added.

“The international community must let the Japanese government know that additional action is needed to save this species.”

Tuesday’s auction winner, Kiyoshi Kimura, president of the firm behind the popular Sushi-Zanmai restaurant chain, said he was “glad to make a winning bid in the last New Year auction at Tsukiji.”

Kimura has won the bidding every year since 2012.

Tsukiji – a sprawling complex of tiny stalls and wholesalers popular with tourists – will end its eight-decade history this year when it is relocated to a modern facility in Toyosu, a few kilometres away.

Kobe Beef, Yubari Melons Get Protected Status

Champagne, Melton Mowbray pork pies and Gorgonzola cheese are to be joined by Kobe beef and eye-wateringly expensive Yubari melons as protected products after Japan granted them special status on December 22. Luxuo has been following the story of Japanese melons in particular for some time so this story caught our attention immediately.

A total of seven products including Kobe beef and the melons from the northern of island of Hokkaido were added to a list of Japanese geographical indications, the farm ministry said.

With the designation, anyone who uses the registered brands without permission could face penalties.

“We’ll promote the registration of geographic indications and increase demand (for premium farm products) inside and outside Japan,” Hiroshi Moriyama, agriculture minister, told a press conference.

The World Intellectual Property Organization on its website defines a geographical indication as “a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin”.

The government hopes to boost exports of made-in-Japan premium agriculture products as local farmers could face competition from cheaper imports with the recently concluded Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact.

Under the deal, most tariffs were to be eliminated or slashed on everything from beef, dairy products, wine, sugar, rice, horticulture and seafood through to manufactured products, resources and energy.

Yuji Funatsu, head of the agricultural cooperative in the city of Yubari that applied for a geographic indication, told AFP ahead of the announcement that earning such a designation means “quite a lot of pressure” to maintain quality.

Yubari melons are considered a status symbol in Japan – something akin to a fine wine – with many being bought for high prices as a gift for friends and colleagues.

A single pair of the melons fetched 1.5 million yen ($12,400) at an auction in Japan in May. The best-quality Yubari melons are perfect spheres with a smooth, evenly patterned rind.

Funatsu, who has been a melon farmer for more than 30 years, said maintaining quality and brand is not easy, adding Yubari melons are a “high-maintenance fruit”.

In addition to Kobe beef and Yubari melons, Yamecha green tea from Fukuoka prefecture, cassis from Aomori, Hyogo’s Tajima-gyu cattle – some of which become Kobe beef – pumpkins from Ibaraki and black vinegar from Kagoshima also received geographic indications, the ministry said.

World’s Largest Saint Laurent Opens in Japan

Now this is a proper flagship-type store. Tokyo is now home to the largest Saint Laurent store in the world – bigger even than your average penthouse. Spanning 929 square meters (10,000 square feet), the newly opened store along the Omotesando strip is designed to be minimalist with black marble, glass, brass and black leather, and carries Saint Laurent’s full line of ready-to-wear, leather goods and accessories for men and women, reports WWD.

To commemorate the opening, the store will be selling limited-edition Saint Laurent surfboards designed with Los Angeles-based artist Lucia Ribisi. Only 10 are available throughout the world at a price of US$6,615.

saint_laurent_s.984e1112032.original

saint_laurent_s.c984e112258.original

Japan Bans Foie Gras Imports Over Bird Flu Virus

Japan has banned imports of French foie gras due to a bird flu outbreak, an agriculture ministry official said December 4. Altogether, eight countries have so far announced sweeping bans of French poultry products, including China, South Korea, Thailand, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. EU nations have not imposed controls, having accepted France’s containment measures.

The Japanese ban, which became effective November 26, will be lifted 90 days after all affected French poultry farms finish culling their birds and conclude necessary sanitary procedures, the official told AFP.

Japan took action to stop imports of French poultry and live birds after the European Commission confirmed birds at a French chicken farm were infected with the H5N1 strain.

However, French poultry products made before October 23 can be imported, the official said, citing a three-week incubation period for the virus.

“Products that were made after that date are banned to prevent the virus from entering into Japan,” he said.

“We are relying on the French authorities to give us information. We would lift the import ban 90 days after the affected farms finish culling their birds and go through full disinfection,” he said.

For the first eight months of this year Japan was the top global importer of foie gras, according to a French industry group.

France produces 75 percent of global foie gras and the country exported 4,934 tonnes of it in 2014.

Algeria, China, Egypt, Japan, Morocco, South Korea, Thailand and Tunisia banned French poultry imports following the outbreak last month in the southwestern area of Dordogne, said Loic Evain, deputy head of the French agriculture ministry’s food division.

“The list is not exhaustive,” Evain said Thursday, but does not include France’s 27 European Union partners, who have accepted containment measures proposed by Paris under World Health Organization guidelines.

“Unfortunately some countries’ first reaction is to close their borders and only then to discuss” strategy, Evain said.

Golden ticket: Kit Kat Limited Edition in Japan

For chocolate lovers with cash to burn and dreams of Willy Wonka, a gold-coated Kit Kat bar will hit stores in Japan late November, but at an eye-watering 2,016 yen (US$16) a finger it will only be available for the lucky few.

Unlike in the famous children’s book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the luxury chocolate bar won’t be randomly scattered among regular Kit Kats in shops.

Instead, 500 of the single bars will be made and sold only in the country, according to Nestle Japan, which has produced over 200 flavors — from strawberry to green tea and even wasabi — since introducing the chocolate treat there in 1973.

“In Japanese convenience stores, consumers are used to having new varieties all the time,” Nestle Japan spokeswoman Melanie Kohli told AFP on Thursday. “Japan is a very unique market.”

Nestle’s limited edition “Sublime Gold” one-finger treat, which is covered in gold leaf and described as having a rich, bitter chocolate taste, will go on sale at chocolate boutiques in eight swank department stores from Tokyo to Sapporo in the north and Fukuoka in southern Japan.

“We have made it a luxury product,” Kohli said of the gold bars, which could be a popular treat during the holiday season. “Not like you probably remember from your childhood. It’s a special occasion, to celebrate the end of the year.”

Kohli added that Japan’s “omiyage” culture of bringing regional gifts back for family and work colleagues after trips away was another reason for Kit Kat’s success with its various flavors.

“Like you have wasabi from Shizuoka and strawberries in Kyushu,” she said.

“Japan is the only place where you can have such a variety of Kit Kat flavors, something linked to that regional culture.”

Wasabi, related to horseradish, is a notoriously hot Japanese condiment served with sushi and sashimi.

Kit Kat, traditionally a four-fingered chocolate bar, currently offers around 30 different flavors in Japan, including Okinawan sweet potato, Yokohama cheese cake and Kobe pudding.

8 Top Selling Artists 2015

Often anticapitalist by nature and sometimes offering scathing critiques of socio-economic systems, contemporary art is paradoxically highly sought-after for its commercial potential. While classics famously hold their value well enough to be considered an asset class, contemporary art  – where the artist is frequently alive and still working – is required to demonstrate its potential at auction regularly. Of course, the value of most contemporary art is nebulous but therein lies the excitement.

Our friends at Art Republik give us the low-down on eight living artists whose best-selling work combined nets more than USD150 million…

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Jeff Koons

Jeff Koons was born in 1955 in York, Pennsylvania, United States of America. He received his B.F.A. from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 1976. Koons is known for his exploration of contemporary consumer culture in his oeuvre. His series of works include “Equilibrium” (1985), which feature ready-made basketballs floating in distilled water in tanks made of glass and steel,  “Banality” (1988), mostly sculptures of toys and popular icons rendered in porcelain and polychromed wood, and “Made in Heaven” (1989-1991), centered around photorealist paintings and sculptures of the artist engaged in sexual intercourse in varied positions with his ex-wife Ilona Staller, an adult film star.

Koons’ “Balloon Dog” sculptures in five color versions – blue, magenta, yellow, orange and red – are probably among his most well known works. These are from the “Celebration” series, which presents giant mirror-polished stainless steel sculptures with transparent color coating.

The artist has pioneered new techniques for the making of his artworks. For the “Celebration” series, for example, he collaborated with Arnold AG, a metalwork mill in Germany to make the sculptures’ high-shine surface. In addition, he used the CAT scan, typically used in hospitals, to get an all-round imaging of subjects so that the enlarged versions could be reproduced to perfection. He also has a unique way of working. Koons’ works are made in a studio that employs more than 100 assistants who fabricate his work.

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“Balloon Dog (Orange)”

2008 was a particularly productive year for Koons, with solo exhibitions at Château de Versailles, France, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin. More recently, in 2014, “Jeff Koons: A Retrospective”, was held at the Whitney Museum of American Art. It has now traveled to the Centre Pompidou, Paris, and will be at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao later in the year.

Koons’ first million-dollar work sold was the “Pink Panther” (1988) from the “Banality” series, which transacted at Christie’s in 1999 for USD1.8 million (1988). In 2013, he became the most expensive living artist when “Balloon Dog (Orange)” sold for USD52 million at Christie’s. He holds the title to this date.

Koons lives and works in New York.

In Brief

  • Age: 60
  • Nationality: American
  • Gallery Representation: David Zwirner Gallery, Gagosian Gallery, Galerie Jérôme de Noirmont, Galerie Max Hetzler
  • Big Break: Koons’ “Banality” series (1988), featuring the work, “Michael Jackson and Bubbles”, exhibited at the Sonnabend Gallery in New York City in 1989.
  • Most Expensive Work Sold: “Balloon Dog (Orange)”, 1994-2000, mirror-polished stainless steel with transparent color coating, 307.3 x 363.2 x 114.3cm. Price including buyer’s premium: USD58.4 million. Sold at Christie’s, New York, November 2013

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Zeng Fanzhi, Mask Series No. 5, 1994, oil on canvas, 180 x 150 cm. Sold at Sotheby’s, Hong Kong, October 2010.

Zeng Fanzhi

Zeng Fanzhi was born in Wuhan, China in 1964. He graduated from Hubei Academy of Fine Arts in 1991, where he specialized in oil painting.

Before moving to Beijing in 1993, he began painting the “Hospital” series, showing tableaus from the hospital, and the “Meat” series that contrast human beings with butchered meat, inspired by the hospital and the butcher’s shop he lived next to. From these first works, the characters began to be drawn with disproportionately larger hands, which persisted into his “Mask” series.

Zeng Fanzhi is probably best known for his paintings in this series of figures standing in groups or alone, wearing white masks with big smiles. This was motivated by his interactions with people in the capital of China, whom he thought hid their true identities and feelings from others and perhaps from themselves as well, in a representation of the Chinese people’s feelings of isolation in the decade after the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989.

An adventurous artist who has experimented with different styles, Zeng began drawing landscapes in 2004, mostly covered with bare intertwining branches, inspired by the unexpected beauty he saw in a pot of Chinese wisteria in his studio. He also painted portraits of luminaries in western culture such as Francis Bacon and Andy Warhol in 2010.

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“The Last Supper”, 2001, oil on canvas, 220 x 395 cm.

Zeng first set a new world auction record for Chinese contemporary art in May 2008, when his diptych Mask Series 1996 No. 6 sold for USD9.7 million at Christie’s in Hong Kong. This featured eight members of the Young Pioneers, the Communist Party’s youth movement, wearing their representative red scarves, and Zeng’s signature masks. In 2013, his painting, “The Last Supper” sold for USD23 million at Sotheby’s. He remains the most expensive living Asian artist.

In the same year, the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris presented the first French retrospective of 40 paintings and sculptures from Zeng made between 1990 and 2012.

Zeng lives and works in Beijing.

In Brief

  • Age: 51
  • Nationality: Chinese
  • Gallery Representation: Gagosian Gallery, Acquavella Galleries, Gallery Hyundai, ShangArt, Hanart TZ Gallery
  • Big Break: Fresh out of art school, paintings from Zeng Fanzhi’s “Hospital” series were selected by Johnson Chang from Hanart TZ Gallery based in Hong Kong to be included in an exhibition at Hong Kong Arts Centre in 1993 titled “China’s New Art, Post-1989”. This introduced the artist to the art community, and at the same time gave Zeng tremendous encouragement to continue pursuing his career as an artist.
  • Most Expensive Work Sold: “The Last Supper”, 2001, oil on canvas, 220 x 395 cm. Price including buyer’s premium: USD23.3 million, Sotheby’s Hong Kong, October 2013

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Installation view, Takashi Murakami’s exhibition, In the Land of the Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow, Gagosian Gallery, New York, 10 November – January 17 2015 © 2014 Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery. Photography by Robert McKeever.

Takashi Murakami

Takashi Murakami was born in 1962 in Tokyo, and received his BFA, MFA and PhD from the Tokyo University of the Arts, formerly the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music.

A multi-hyphenate, Murakami is involved in many aspects of the art world, and works as an artist, a gallerist, a curator and an art theorist, among others. He founded the Hiropon factory in Tokyo in 1996 for the production of his works, which later evolved into Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd., an art production and art management corporation. In addition to the production and marketing of Murakami’s art and related work, it manages and promotes emerging artists.

Murakami has organized several influential exhibitions based on the theory of a tradition of a pervasive superflat look in contemporary Japanese visual culture, typified by manga, which refer to comic books, and anime, which refer to animation, that tend towards two-dimensionality. The first exhibition, titled simply “Superflat”, was held at Parco Gallery in Tokyo and Nagoya. It subsequently traveled to MoCA gallery in the Pacific Design Centre in Los Angeles, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, and Henry Art Gallery, Seattle, in 2001. He has followed up with exhibitions such as “Coloriage” at the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain in Paris in 2002 and “Little Boy: The Art of Japan’s Exploding Subcultures” at the Japan Society in New York in 2005.

A pioneer in art-fashion collaborations, Murakami began working with Louis Vuitton in 2003. He first created the “Monogram Multicolore”, which featured the “LV” monogram in 33 bright colors. Since then, he has made special prints for the luxury fashion house’s leather goods that incorporate motifs such as cherry blossoms and pandas. In 2008, the limited edition “Monogramouflage” collection, for all products from iPhone cases to luggage, featured a juxtaposition of the khaki and beige camouflage print and the Louis Vuitton monogram.

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Takashi Murakami, “Lionel Messi and a Universe of Flowers,” 2014, acrylic and platinum leaf on canvas laid down on board, 70 7/8 x 70 7/8 in

A notable recent exhibition is “Takashi in Superflat Wonderland” at the PLATEAU Samsung Museum of Art in Seoul Korea in late 2013, where some of the artist’s most iconic works were on display, including one of the artist’s “Superflat Flowers” sculptures made in 2010. Also in the exhibition was a fiberglass sculpture of “Miss Ko2”, a buxom character created by Murakami as a commentary on otaku culture, an obsession with anime and manga, and the resultant desire to have these unreal characters come to life.

Not content to rest on his laurels, Murakami is constantly innovating. In 2013, he released his first feature film, “Jellyfish Eyes”, which mixes live action with cartoon characters, with plans for a sequel.

Murakami lives and works in Tokyo.

In Brief

  • Age: 53
  • Nationality: Japanese
  • Gallery Representation: Gagosian Gallery, Blum & Poe, Galerie Perrotin, Kaikai Kiki Gallery
  • Big Break: Murakami had an international traveling retrospective, “©Murakami”, showing over 90 works by the artist that kicked off at The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Los Angeles in 2008. In an interview in W Magazine in April 2013, Murakami said that this exhibition was a turning point in his career, stating that he thought the conventional view before the exhibition was that he was merely an artist influenced by Japanese subculture. The exhibition was persuasive of the strength of his artworks to have a place in art history.
  • Most Expensive Work Sold: “My Lonesome Cowboy”, 1998, oil, acrylic, fiberglass, iron, 254 x 116.8 x 91.4cm. Price including buyer’s premium: USD15.1 million, Sotheby’s, New York, May 2008

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Tracey Emin, My Bed, 1998, mattress, linens, pillows, objects, 211 x 234 cm. World auction record for the artist at Christie’s, London, July 2014. Courtesy Christie’s Images Ltd. 2014.

Tracey Emin

Tracey Emin was born in London in 1963, and studied at Maidstone College of Art and the Royal College of Art, London, where she earned her Master’s degree in 1989.

Emin’s art is inspired by her personal life. Her artworks reflect universal emotions and are both relatable and confrontational. These are created in wide range of mediums, including, painting, photography, textile, video, installation and sculpture.

In 1999, Emin was shortlisted for the Turner Prize, an annual prize awarded to a British visual artist below the age of 50. This was for her provocative work, “My Bed”, an installation of the artist’s bed complete with liquor bottles, cigarette butts, worn underwear, condoms and rumpled stained bedsheets, the scene of a post-breakup breakdown.

Among other works by Emin are her “I’ve Got It All” photograph from 2000 showing the artist seated on the floor with ample cleavage, her legs wide open, bills and coins pressed against her crotch. She is also known for her neon light installations, which she has produced since the 1990s, featuring evocative messages such as “You Forgot to Kiss My Soul” (2001) and “You Loved Me Like a Distant Star” (2012).

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Tracey Emin

Emin has exhibited extensively. In 2007, she represented Britain at the 52nd Venice Biennale. The first major retrospective exhibition of Emin’s work opened at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in 2008, and traveled to Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Málaga, Spain and the Kunstmuseum Bern, Switzerland. In May 2011, Emin had a major survey exhibition, “Love is What You Want” at the Hayward Gallery in London.

Emin currently lives and works in London.

In Brief

  • Age 52
  • Nationality British
  • Gallery Representation Lehmann Maupin, White Cube
  • Big Break Charles Saatchi’s “Sensation” exhibition at the Royal Academy, London included Emin’s much-discussed work “Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963-1995”, which was a tent embroidered with over 100 names of people she had slept with, including 32 lovers, and 80 people she had only slept next to.
  • Most Expensive Work Sold “My Bed”, 1998, mattress, linens, pillows, objects, 79 x 211 x 234 cm. Price including buyer’s premium: USD4.3 million, Christie’s, London, July 2014

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Gerhard Richter, Abstraktes Bild, 1986, oil on canvas, 300.6 x 250.5 cm. World auction record for the artist at Sotheby’s, London, February 2015. Courtesy Sotheby’s.

Gerhard Richter

Gerhard Richter was born in 1932 in Dresden, Germany. He studied at the Staatliche Kunstakademie, or the State Academy of Art, in Düsseldorf under the eminent German artist Karl Otto Götz from 1961 to 1964.

Richter has had an illustrious career spanning over half a century. Beginning in the 1960s, the author painted, in grey scale, renditions of blown-up blurred black-and-white photographs he had taken of still lifes, portraits and landscapes, such as “Kitchen Chair” (1965), “Helen” (1963) and possibly his most well-known work of the period, “Domplatz, Mailand” (1968), measuring nearly 3 meters by 3 meters, featuring the Cathedral Square in Milan. This iconic work appears to vibrate with Richter’s signature fuzzy blur in his photo-paintings, which had the capacity to soften or destabilize an image.

Beginning in the late 1960s, Richter created his “Colour Chart” and “Grey Paintings” series that were based on his exploration of color. “1024 Colours” was made in four unique editions, and feature neat ovoids of 1024 different colors painted in a grid at random. His “Grey Paintings” were inspired by the use of shades of the color in his photo-based paintings.

In the 1980s, Richter started to apply a squeegee across the canvas to scrape and smear freshly laid paint to create intuitive paintings that revealed hidden layers, and from the 1990s, the tool was applied both horizontally and vertically to create new possibilities in the final works.

Richter has exhibited all over the world. He had a major exhibition, “Abstract Paintings”, in 1978 at the Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, which traveled to the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London. In 1988, the artist was given his first North American retrospective, jointly organized by the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. The exhibition traveled to Washington and San Francisco. In 2002, a 40-year retrospective of Richter’s work was held at the Museum of Modern Art, New York and in 2011, a major retrospective of the artist’s works opened at the Tate Modern, London and traveled to the Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, and the Centre Pompidou, Paris. Richter has also participated in multiple editions of the Venice Biennale and the Documenta in Kassel since 1972.

In 2012, Richter became the most expensive living artist after his work, “Abstraktes Bild (809-4)” (1994), sold for USD33 million in London, a title he held until 2013. Most recently, in February 2015, another “Abstraktes Bild” work, this one painted in 1986, sold for USD37 million, which made him the most expensive living artist
in Europe.

Richter has lived and worked in Cologne since 1983.

In Brief

  • Age: 83
  • Nationality: German
  • Gallery Representation: Marian Goodman Gallery, Scott White Contemporary Art
  • Big Break: In 1968, Richter was commisioned by Siemens AG to make a work to hang in their Milan offices. The result was “Domplatz, Mailand” (1968), at the time the artist’s largest figurative painting, and probably the most accomplished
  • photo-painting by the artist.
  • Most Expensive Work Sold: “Abstraktes Bild”, 1986, oil on canvas, 300.5 x 250.5cm. Price including buyer’s premium: USD46.3 million, Sotheby’s, London, February 2015

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Exhibition view of Yayoi Kusama, Ota Fine Arts, Singapore. Photography by Quek Jia Liang. Image courtesy of Ota Fine Arts

Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama was born in Matsumoto City, Japan in 1929. She moved to the United States in 1957 before moving back to Japan in 1973. Kusama has had a rich and varied career as an artist for over five decades. Her works are in various mediums, including painting, sculpture, performance and installation. Among her most well known works are the “Infinity Net” paintings she began making in the late 1950s, made by adding white arcs onto a darker background on a large canvas. The “Accumulation” sculptures came after, and feature soft-sculptures she made by stitching cotton-stuffed cloth into phallic shapes to attach to furniture and clothing, as well as her trademark polka dot designs in both two- and three-dimensional works. In her time in New York in the 1960s, she was also a performance artist who staged provocative happenings, such as painting people in the nude in her trademark polka dots.

Kusama has exhibited all over the world. In 1993, she represented Japan at the Venice Biennale, for which she created an installation with a mirror room and multiple yellow pumpkin sculptures, the beginnings of similar sculptures covered in uneven black dots. In 1998, a major retrospective of her work made in New York, opened at the Los Angeles County Museum of art before traveling to the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Walker Art Centre in Minneapolis, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo.

Notably, from 2011 to 2012, a touring exhibition of her works made its way to Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Tate Modern in London as well as the Whitney Museum in New York.

In 2012, Kusama collaborated with Louis Vuitton in an ambitious project that saw products such as leather goods and ready-to-wear fashion, in prints featuring Kusama’s signature polka dots – black polka dots against a yellow background, white against black and red against white, which took center stage in window displays of 460 Louis Vuitton stores in 64 countries, as well as seven special concept stores in Paris, London, and Tokyo.

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Yayoi Kusama, Shellfish, 1989, screenprint, 53.5 x 46 cm. Image courtesy of the artist and Ota Fine Arts.

In the past decade, Kusama has created immersive installations of walk-in rooms that create disorienting experiences for the viewer. “Fireflies on the Water” (2002) features 150 lights and a pool of water in the center of a room, whose surfaces are all covered with mirrors that give multiple reflections. “Infinity Mirrored Room – The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away” at the David Zwirner Gallery in late 2013 played on a similar concept with 75 colored LED lights that glimmered and pulsed in a small mirrored room. Another recent installation is “The Obliteration Room”, currently at the Queensland Art Gallery, where children add colorful dot stickers to white furniture, objects and surfaces.

Kusama lives and works in Tokyo.

In Brief

  • Age: 86
  • Nationality: Japanese
  • Gallery Representation: Ota Fine Arts, Victoria Miro, David Zwirner Gallery
  • Big Break: Kusama has had a long and successful career, but probably became a global household name when she collaborated with Louis Vuitton in 2012, which included not only a full range of products carrying her signature polka dots, but also the window displays of the luxury fashion house’s stores in over 60 countries.
  • Most Expensive Work Sold: “White No. 28”, 1960, oil on canvas, 147.6 x 111.1cm. Price including buyer’s premium: USD7.1 million, Christie’s, New York, November 2014

Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman, Untitled #463, 2007/2008, chromogenic color print, 174.2 x 182.9 cm, edition of 6. Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures.

Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman is an American artist born in 1954 in Glen Ridge, New Jersey. She graduated from State University College, Buffalo, New York, in 1976. Her photographs have seen her take on multiple roles since her first series, “Untitled Film Stills” in the late 1970s, and continuing with “Centrefolds” (1981), in which she was photographed in an intimate setting as a vulnerable character, and “Fashion” (1983-84), exploring the objectification of women in the still image. The artist is at the center of each photograph, but in different guises, as she plays with identity through dress, transforming her image through hair, make-up, costumes, props and prosthetics.

Sherman has continued to create chameleon-like transformations in performative photographic works, such as in her humorous interpretations of old master paintings as photographs between 1989 and 1990, where she became the portraits’ subjects. Another series of similar works, this time with society portraits in 2008, saw Sherman dressed as aging socialites against moneyed backgrounds. These works poked fun at the trappings of excessive wealth and the obsession with youth and on-the-surface perfection in contemporary society.

While she is most famous for her more light-hearted self-portraits in different roles, she has created a significant number of works that are darker in nature. Beginning in the mid-1980s, her body of work expanded to include the “Fairy Tales” and Disasters” series that show grotesque scenes from which the artist is mostly absent. Other dark series include “Sex and Death” in the late 19080s, photographed using disfigured mannequins, “Pure Horror” in the mid-1990s and “Clowns” in the mid-2000s.

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Cindy Sherman, “Untitled Film Stills”, gelatin silver print, 25.4 x 20.3 cm. World auction record for the artist at Christie’s, New York, November 2014. Courtesy Christie’s Images Ltd. 2015.

Sherman has had numerous solo exhibitions at home and abroad since the 1980s. Of particular note is a survey at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 2012, which showcased more than 170 photographs from the artist’s extensive body of work. The exhibition also included the debut of Sherman’s new photographic murals, which saw her image manipulated digitally against a decorative toile background.

Sherman lives and works in New York.

In Brief

  • Age: 61
  • Nationality: American
  • Gallery Representation: Metro Pictures, Galerie Sprüth Magers
  • Big Break: “Untitled Film Stills”, shown at the landmark performance and video space The Kitchen in New York in 1980, was Sherman’s breakthrough. In these black-and-white photos, the artist took on 69 stereotypical female roles in movies such as the housewife and the femme fatale.
  • Most Expensive Work Sold: “Untitled Film Stills”, 1977, gelatin silver print, 25.4 x 20.3cm.
  • Price including buyer’s premium: USD6.8 million, Christie’s, New York, November 2014

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Andreas Gursky, Rhein II, 1999, chromogenic colour print face-mounted to plexiglass, 185.4 x 363.5 cm. World auction record for the artist at Christie’s, New York, November 2011. Courtesy Christie’s Images Ltd. 2015.

Andreas Gursky

Andreas Gursky was born in Leipzig, Germany in 1955. He first studied photography at the Folkwang University of the Arts, formerly Folkwang Academy in Essen. He then attended the Staatliche Kunstakademie, or the State Academy of Art in Düsseldorf and studied under the influential German photographers Hilla and Bernd Becher from 1981 to 1987.

Gursky is known for his large-scale magnified photographs of varied scenes, which can measure up to 2 by 5 meters, reveal the conditions of contemporary times. Usually taken from an elevated vantage point, the artist’s photographic works are known for their stunning and often overwhelming clarity.

In the 1990s, Gursky began experimenting with digital manipulation through shooting the images on chromogenic prints, or c-prints using a large-format camera, then scanning the images for reworking on the computer to create his massive and precise photographs. One of the earliest works made this way was “Paris, Montparnasse” (1993), which showed an inhabited apartment building, and highlighted its uniformed structure and crowdedness in a commentary on the cookie-cutter mold of contemporary urban living. In “Rhein II”, Gursky merged photographs of different parts of the river together to exclude industrial activity, creating an imaginary serene landscape.

In 2011, this work became the most expensive photograph sold at auction.

A recurring theme in Gursky’s work is the effects of capitalism and globalization in contemporary society that put in place invisible systems. Perhaps his most recognizable images from the 1990s are of the Chicago Board of Trade from 1990, which, in contrast to “Rhein II”, shows a flurry of activity reflective of the trading floor’s organized chaos, with traders at the pit surrounded by circular rows of computers. In “99 Cent II Diptychon” (2001), which shows the interior of a 99 Cents Only store, the bright colors red, yellow and orange of rows of boxes were edited to jump out from the photograph, aided by the addition of a mirrored ceiling. The visually impressive work provided a stark reflection of an obsessive consumer culture in contemporary society.

From the mid-2000s, Gursky has worked on numerous projects in Asia, including Japan, Thailand, China and North Korea, among others. “Pyongyang”, a series of photographs of the annual Arirang Festival in North Korea in 2007 presented the heavily directed spectacle to the rest of the world. In taking the festival proceedings such as choreographed mass dances from a great distance, the resulting images look like colorful tapestries, and show the insignificance of the individual within the society.

Gursky has exhibited internationally. A 2001 retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York traveled to Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, Centre Pompidou, Paris, and Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.

In recent years, Gursky has also exhibited small photographs atypical to the rest of his oeuvre, such as in “Werke-Works 80-08,” which opened in Kunstmuseen Krefeld in Germany in 2008, and toured to Moderna Museet, Stockholm and Vancouver Art Gallery in 2009.

Gursky lives and works in Düsseldorf.

In Brief

  • Age: 60
  • Nationality: German
  • Gallery Representation: Galerie Sprüth Magers, Mai 36 Galerie, Matthew Marks Gallery
  • Big Break: Gursky acquired worldwide fame with his major solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, in 2001.
  • Most Expensive Work Sold: “Rhein II”, 1999, chromogenic print, Plexiglass, 207 x 385.5 x 6.2cm.
  • Price including buyer’s premium: USD4.3 million, Christie’s, New York, November 2011

Story Credits

Text by Nadya Wang

couturier jean paul gaultier

Jean Paul Gaultier launching Japanese line October 1

couturier jean paul gaultier

French designer Jean Paul Gaultier is set to release his affordably priced collection for the Japanese retailer Seven & i on October 1.

According to WWD, the line, which was first announced in March, includes a trench coat and striped boatneck jersey tops.

The collection will be available in the company’s Ito Yokado, Sogo and Seibu stores, while an online portal will allow customers to pick up their purchases from 7-Eleven convenience stores.

Seven & i is also planning the launch of a new brand called Sept Premières, with Gaultier’s designs to be featured in a capsule collection within the range and other designers expected to design future collections.

Ermenegildo Zegna Couture Made in Japan

Zegna Unveils Japan-Made Capsule Collection [VIDEO]

Zegna Japan Group shot

Italian designer Ermenegildo Zegna has created a new collection, inspired by Japan’s fashion and craftmanship, reports Women’s Wear Daily.

Zegna’s exclusive capsule collection — labeled “Ermenegildo Zegna Couture Made in Japan” — will be produced in Japan by local artisans, and feature 22 pieces.

Stefano Pilati, Zegna’s head of design, chose certain pieces from the fall collection, adding Japanese materials and tailoring to create the new items.

The new collection will go on sale Saturday at Zegna’s Ginza store, before heading to the brand’s Osaka location on October 1.

Certain pieces from the collection will make their way to other stores around the world later in the year.

Zegna Japan Zegna Japan Zegna Japan