Kokeshi dolls by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec

Yesterday during Tokyo Designers Week designer Ronan Bouroullec and Japanese architect Kengo Kuma presented their collaboration for the East Japan Project which the latter started after the Fukushina disaster in 2011. The inspirational project aims to get the artisans of the region back on their feet by creating lifestyle products that are manufactured by the local craftsmen. One of those traditional objects combining aesthetics with craftsmanship are kokeshi dolls, which we’ve been collection for quite some years now. Inspired by the extraordinary dolls Ronan and his brother Erwan Bouroullec designed a series of kokeshi dolls which are exclusively produced for the East Japan Project. The Bouroullec brother’s interpretation moved away for the super enlarged head and has a more human shape, with its torso separated in two elements, connected by a hinge which allows them to bend at the hip area, resulting in a more modern, moveable, but nevertheless familiar kokeshi doll. Such an elegant interpretation of one of our favorite Japanese traditional objects.

In a beautiful feature on designboom Ronan and Erwan Boroullec state on deciding to make a kokeshi doll for the East Japan Project:

Few years ago during a trip to Japan, we saw an exhibition about Japanese animal figurines. these small statues with different expressions made from different materials connected us with the craftspeople – the creators, and we were deeply moved by the simple and affectionate presence of their art, which has been passed on from their ancestors.

And they continue:

So when we started to work on the project for East Japan, we were naturally drawn to traditional kokeshi manufacturing. Their roundness, which we see emerging from each of the spins of the woodturning, has barely changed since. we breathe movement into the doll with a single articulation; wood comes alive and mimics the movement of a friendly Japanese greeting. The know-how of craftsman Jujisato woodcraft and master Eihiro Sato made it possible.

Ronan, born in 1971, and Erwan Bouroullec, who was born five year later, have been working together for about 15 years now. Their collaboration is a permanent dialogue nourished by their distinct personalities and a shared notion of diligence with the intention to reach more balance and fineness. After kickstarting their career in 1997 with their Disintegrated Kitchen they have now a days designed for numerous manufacturers, namely Vitra, Kvadrat, Magis, Kartell, Established and Sons, Ligne Roset, Axor, Alessi, Issey Miyake, Cappellini, Mattiazzi, Flos, Mutina, Hay and more recently Glas Italia and Iittala. At the same time, they maintain an experimental activity which is essential to the development of their work at Galerie kreo, Paris, where four exhibitions of their designs have been held between 2001 and 2012. They also embark on occasional architectural projects such as the Floating House in 2006, the Camper stores in Paris, Copenhagen and Rome (2009-2011), the Casa Camper Hotel’s restaurant, Dos Palillos, in Berlin (2010) and the Kvadrat showrooms in Stockholm (2006) and Copenhagen (2009).

For more information see here.