ryosuke harashima’s one-eyed OBAKE lanterns reinterpret japanese spirits

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designer ryosuke harashima looks to japanese folklore to animate a pair of lanterns named OBAKE ‘A’ and ‘UN’. the one-eyed light fixtures reinterpret spirits known as ‘youkai’ or ‘obake’ in a pop style, giving the traditional lanterns a contemporary twist. the original design, without the eyes, formed part of harashima’s STILLIFE collection, which was exhibited inside a tadao ando-designed museum in japan.

ryosuke harashima's one-eyed OBAKE lanterns reinterpret japanese spirits designboom

OBAKE ‘A’ (right) and OBAKE ‘UN’ (left)

image by nik van der giesen

 

 

in japan, there is an animist belief that old tools and artifacts carry spirits such as ‘youkai’ or ‘obake’. inspired by these spirits, ryosuke harashima decided to reinterpret an ‘old tool’ in a contemporary way, and emphasize the differences between traditional craftsmanship and new, mass-produced products. 

ryosuke harashima's one-eyed OBAKE lanterns reinterpret japanese spirits designboom

OBAKE ‘A’

image by nik van der giesen

 

 

although this japanese lantern is not an old tool, it is made by the historic kojima shoten, 10th generation craftsmen in kyoto who meticulously cut and assemble the bamboo structure and paper covering. with the lantern as a starting point, harashima adds a sleek metal stand and a red or blue-colored eye. the result is a contemporary and characterful design. 

ryosuke harashima's one-eyed OBAKE lanterns reinterpret japanese spirits designboom

image by nik van der giesen

 

 

the names of the OBAKE lanterns come from ancient sanskrit. the designer explains that the red-eye ‘A [a]’ means both ‘truth’ and ‘spirit of inquiry’ while the blue-eyed ‘UN [hūṃ]’ means ‘wisdom’ and ‘nirvana’. there is also the idea that ‘A’ and ‘UN’ represent both the beginning and end of the universe. moreover, pairs of guardian statues with the expression ‘a-un’ are often placed at the entrances of temples and shrines across asia.

ryosuke harashima's one-eyed OBAKE lanterns reinterpret japanese spirits designboom

image by nik van der giesen

ryosuke harashima's one-eyed OBAKE lanterns reinterpret japanese spirits designboom

image by nik van der giesen

ryosuke harashima's one-eyed OBAKE lanterns reinterpret japanese spirits designboom

OBAKE ‘UN’

image by nik van der giesen

ryosuke harashima's one-eyed OBAKE lanterns reinterpret japanese spirits designboom

image by nik van der giesen

ryosuke harashima's one-eyed OBAKE lanterns reinterpret japanese spirits designboom

image by nik van der giesen

ryosuke harashima's one-eyed OBAKE lanterns reinterpret japanese spirits designboom

the original design of OBAKE, called ‘under the hazy moon’, exhibited as part of harashima’s STILLIFE collection

image by nik van der giesen

 

the STILLIFE collection was exhibited inside tadao ando’s ishikawa nishida kitaro museum of philosophy in japan

one-eyed OBAKE lanterns reinterpret japanese spirits in a pop style

shun kojima (the older brother) is the 10th generation of kojima shoten. his skillful craftsmanship makes the bamboo sticks.

image by yunayagi

one-eyed OBAKE lanterns reinterpret japanese spirits in a pop style

ryo kojima (the younger brother) is in charge of inserting the bamboo sticks in a ring shape on the mold and covering them with japanese paper

image by yunayagi

one-eyed OBAKE lanterns reinterpret japanese spirits in a pop style

mamoru kojima (the father) is the 9th generation of kojima shoten. he does most of the lantern painting, he also paints OBAKE’s face. 

image by yunayagi

 

 

project info:

 

project name: OBAKE ‘A’ (red eye) / OBAKE ‘UN’ (blue eye)

design: ryosuke harashima

dimensions: w840 × d460 × h460 mm (each)

photography: nik van der giesen, yunayagi

 

designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.

 

edited by: lynne myers | designboom



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