Tokyo Old and New

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What is essentially Japanese in design? One designer compares it to tofu. Architects Yoshiharu Tsukamoto and Shigeru Ban, designer Reiko Sudo, and poet Shuntaro Tanikawa show Kurt Andersen how Japan brings tradition and innovation together. His search takes him through the streets of old Tokyo to an island in the Inland Sea.

→ See a slideshow of the architects, designers, and art from the story below

(Originally aired: February 6, 2009)




Slideshow: The Japanese Influence in Art and Design

Atelier Bow Wow is an up-and-coming Tokyo architecture firm run by partners (and spouses) Yoshiharu Tsukamoto and Momoyo Kaijima.

( Jenny Lawton )

Atelier Bow Wow's office is a live/work space for the partners. Its open plan has just one room on each floor, staggered to maximize the building's tiny footprint.

( Jenny Lawton )

The view of the neighborhood outside Atelier Bow Wow's offices reveals how different eras of architecture exist side by side in contemporary Tokyo.

( Jenny Lawton )

Kurt and Yoshi outside Atelier Bow Wow. As its building demonstrates, the firm is notable for creating designs in the nooks and crannies of jam-packed Tokyo.

( Jenny Lawton )

Shigeru Ban is one of Japan's star architects. He says the flexibility in the Japanese lifestyle allows for more experimental design.

( Leital Molad )

Reiko Sudo is the founder of NUNO, a textile company in Tokyo. Reiko is known for creating fabrics out of unlikely materials. She shows Kurt a material made from metal and plastic.

( Jenny Lawton )

A detail of fabric made from metal and plastic.

( Jenny Lawton )

The tag on one of NUNO's fabrics marks its composition as 40% cotton, 60% stainless steel. The material on the right is made, in part, from copper telephone wire.

( Jenny Lawton )

Reiko uses pheasant feathers, discarded from a Chinese restaurant, in this silk-based fabric.

( Jenny Lawton )

The island of Naoshima is 400 miles southwest of Tokyo, in the Inland Sea.

( ippeijanine )

The island's art complex includes indoor and outdoor works by seven contemporary artists. This house was designed by American artist James Turrell and Japanese architect Tadao Ando.

( nomadpaper )

Turrell's Open Sky lets visitors observe a square of sky from a stone bench in a 25-foot-high room.

( fleshmeatdoll )

Open Sky reveals surprising depth and shape to a patch of blue sky.

( kalevkevad )