1st21 2007 - 1stDibs: Antique and Modern Furniture, Jewelry, Fashion & Art



Each culture around the world has made an indelible impact on the design industry. 1stDibs is proud to showcase the contributions of these cultures and share their unique stories. One destination that will forever charm beauty seekers is Japan — an island nation with an ancient tradition of craftsmanship.

This featured work by Hiroshi Senju combines an expressionist sensibility with craftsmanship rooted in ancient Japanese methods. When highlighting the work of Japanese and Japanese American artists, 1stDibs strives for true representation by focusing on masters as diverse as George Nakashima, Rei Kawakubo, Takashi Murakami and Yayoi Kusama.


This featured work by Hiroshi Senju combines an expressionist sensibility with craftsmanship rooted in ancient Japanese methods. When highlighting the work of Japanese and Japanese American artists, 1stDibs strives for true representation by focusing on masters as diverse as George Nakashima, Rei Kawakubo, Takashi Murakami and Yayoi Kusama.


Artist Spotlight

The Visionary World of Hiroshi Senju

New York-based artist, Hiroshi Senju is celebrated worldwide for creating dreamy, large-scale paintings of waterfalls. And though his minimalist monochromatic visual language is primarily rooted in Abstract Expressionism, he employs traditional painting techniques that are unique to his native Japan. In fact, Senju is one of the few living artists versed in the nihonga technique, an ancient practice by which pigments made from minerals, ground stone, shells and corals are adhered to a surface (paper, silk or wood) using animal glue, known as nikawa.

Experiencing Waterfall

Gallerist Sundaram Tagore talks about seeing Hiroshi Senju's work up close and how it has a transportive — and immersive — effect on the viewer.

On Heritage and Inheritance

A renowned maker in her own right, Mira Nakashima discusses the legacy of her father, George Nakashima, his training as a carpenter during World War II and his adherence to centuries-old tenets of Zen Buddhism.

The Best of Japanese Art & Design

One With Nature

Bamboo, cherry blossoms, tempestuous oceans and bird prints are all part of the rich visual language of Japanese design. Natural motifs in general served as reminders of the impermanence of the seasons and are frequently used in depictions of nobility.

Writ Large

The value put on calligraphy is so great in Japanese culture that it’s taught to children at a young age. It takes decades to master, however and is considered an important art form that brings about harmony and wisdom.

Weaving Magic

Japanese basketweaving is forever linked to bamboo — a durable, flexible, and challenging material to handle. Mastering the use of the plant starts not with weaving the bamboo, but the painstaking methods of harvesting, processing and dyeing it.

A Tradition of Ceramics

Japan’s dalliance with porcelain making is not as ancient as its mainland neighbors — but no less impressive. In fact, there are over 50 cities and districts across the island nation, each with its own processes of glazing and firing the clay.

Heroic Anime

The vibrant, outrageous and wide-eyed protagonists of these animated works are so influential in Japan — and around the world — that they’ve birthed a variety of subcultures, from cosplay to computer gaming.

From Introspective

The labor-intensive craft enjoys a devoted following among connoisseurs and has been embraced by designers and makers around the globe.

Maker Spotlight

In Praise of Japanese Mastery

We're proud to showcase the influence and master craftsmanship of Japanese and Japanese-American creators across generations, always being careful to recognize ancient techniques and traditions while highlighting the innovative contributions of today's master artisans.

In Praise of Japanese Mastery

A master woodworker and M.I.T.-trained architect, George Nakashima was the leading light of the American Studio furniture movement. He was a genuine artisan who disdained industrial methods and materials in favor of a personal, craft-based approach to design. His abiding reverence for wood is evident in all of his custom-made pieces, which show off the grain, burls and whorls in an individual plank.

A sculptor, painter, ceramicist and furniture and lighting designer, Isamu Noguchi was one of the most prolific creative forces of the 20th century and a key figure in the development of organic modernism. For collectors, Noguchi's furniture and lighting designs remain his most accessible works, particularly his washi paper and bamboo Akari light sculptures. Handmade in Japan, these traditionally crafted pieces became an instant sensation upon their debut in 1951 — and they're still cherished today for their warm, soulful glow.

Recognized as a master of the ukiyo-e woodblock printing tradition, this 19th-century artist is renowned for creating thousands of depictions of daily life during Japan's Edo period. His dreamy landscapes show thatched houses, verdant forests, birds perched on flowering branches and industrious seaside communities. Influenced by Chinese scroll painting and the Kanō school of Japanese painting, Hiroshige himself would influence the work of Impressionist and post-Impressionist artists in Europe.

This prolific 20th-century creator designed furniture and decor that pushed the boundaries of western design. His whimsical use of color and material was typical of postmodernism, and his pieces captured the brash lightheartedness of the 1980s in particular. Though Kuramata's training centered around traditional woodworking, he used ancient Japanese craftsmanship techniques and modern mediums like steel, lucite and glass to achieve stunning shapes.

For decades, this cutting-edge designer and innovator has shaped the fashion industry with his single-minded devotion to technology. Miyake's creative approach is a pursuit of "the body, the fabric covering it, and a comfortable relationship between the two." His pioneering efforts in pleated fabric research helped him form his Pleats Please collection of naturally wrinkle-resistant and lightweight tops that revolutionized the runways of Paris — and the industry.

This Japanese contemporary artist may be famous among collectors for his psychedelic flowers and cartoons — but artists know him as the theorist behind the contemporary art movement he calls "Superflat." Partially inspired by the Pop art of Andy Warhol, Murakami's Superflat uses chaotic, anime-like illustrations over multiple mediums to make a critical commentary on the mass consumerism so prevalent in modern Japanese culture.

For over a half-century, Yayoi Kusama's influence has loomed large in the art world. Her hallucinogenic installations, polka-dotted paintings and fanciful sculptures captivate art enthusiasts and inspired contemporary artists, including the Prince of Pop culture. And, just as Campbell's soup cans were to Warhol, Kusama is indelibly linked to one iconic motif — pumpkins. Speaking about them, she said, "I was enchanted by their charming and winsome form...what appealed to me most was the pumpkin's generous unpretentiousness."

Tokyo-born product designer Sori Yanagi played a significant role in Japanese-Modern design. This important postwar movement espoused simplicity and practicality — and incorporated elements of traditional Japanese craftsmanship. His graceful, uncomplicated butterfly stool is an iconic piece of furniture that combines Eastern forms with the plywood molding technique developed by Charles and Ray Eames. The gently curving silhouette of the stool's twin seats is reminiscent of a butterfly's wings eternally poised for flight.


Designer Spotlight

Falling in Love

"Sometimes you don't know what you're looking for until you find it. That was absolutely the case with this Hiroshi Senju painting. It's ethereal — like the ocean views from this room. It has that misty quality that you often get from the seaspray. The connection isn't literal, but the vibe is spot on. It's unexpected in a beach house, yet it couldn't be more perfect."

Wesley Moon, Wesley Moon Inc.