MONO JAPAN lecture programme brings you stories of crafts and design from Japan and the Netherlands. Join us to hear makers, designers and curators talk about their practices and cross-cultural collaborations; learn about designers’ inspirations and find out how today's economic and social developments and contemporary innovations affect the artisanal practices; see what the future have in store for crafts & design.

Free admission and no pre-booking required to all lectures with a valid entrance ticket to MONO JAPAN 2019.


gift by gifted - Yamanashi’s mountainous manufacturing region

Kaori Ieyasu

Concept and Design Director of gift by gifted inc.

Date & Time: February 1 (Fri) from 16:00 - 17:00
Location: Lloyd Zaal

For years, Yamanashi Prefecture has been making beautiful jewellery and textiles, but ten years ago, both industries were under threat of extinction. Ieyasu will explain in this lecture from her own experience of how to get young people involved in such dying manufacturing regions and traditions to rejuvenate them.
As traditional production hubs dwindle and many people are thinking about creating small-scale creative ‘making’ hubs around the world, this is a good opportunity to hear about what’s happening in Japan.


  • Kaori Ieyasu
    Kaori Ieyasugraduated from the Design Academy Eindhoven in 2007. She worked at Studioilse in London, run by world-renowned interior designer Ilse Crawford, and at Trend Union Paris, before opening Edelkoort East in Tokyo in 2008 to broaden the field of trend forecasting.
    Since 2009, she has been helping craftsmen to develop their design and communication strategy in the textile and jewellery making region of Yamanashi, Japan. With Takeshi Oshima, she started gift by gifted inc to use the new production system to bring beautiful ideas and talents into the world.

MUJUN’s challenge to find craftsmen’s successors

Shinya Kobayashi

Director at MUJUN and Coelacanth Shokudo

Date & Time: February 2 (Sat) from 18:00 - 19:00
Location: Lloyd Zaal

MUJUN’s brand, ‘Banshu Hamono’, primarily works in the cities of Ono and Miki in Hyogo Prefecture, known in Japan as two of the foremost production areas for knives and blades. The brand uses top-quality products made by several individual craftsmen that MUJUN has gathered together.
As a young designer, Kobayashi wanted to break down walls that have traditionally blocked craftspeople from communicating with one another. By bringing these former competitors together, MUJUN aims to show consumers the real character of this producing area.
Kobayashi is trying to ‘cultivate craftsmen’, first by learning about their personal journeys, their joys and their sorrows, as well as the the history and characteristics of craft in the region. He talks regularly with craftsmen-in-training while as they try to find their way. Modern craftsmanship is full of challenges and contradictions, and it seems craftsmanship itself needs a new definition.
In this lecture, he would like to share this story with the audience, and think together about the challenges and opportunities for those who choose craftsmanship as a profession.


  • Shinya Kobayashi
    Shinya Kobayashigraduated Osaka University of the Arts and founded Coelacanth Shokudo in his hometown of Ono, in Hyogo Prefecture. He began working with local makers of products such as Banshu blades and abacuses (‘Banshu’ is an old name for Hyogo prefecture, and is now used for the area’s distinctive products), and stone roof tiles, to develop new products for their businesses. He focuses on sharing his region’s rich assets with an international audience, beginning with the branding and then developing a market for the goods overseas.

The Development of Taste in Modern Japan

Jurriaan van der Meer

Ph.D. candidate in Japanese literature at Leiden University, the Netherlands

Date & Time: February 3 (Sun) from 15:00 - 16:00
Location: Lloyd Zaal 

The concept of taste is complex. It is both a way to distinguish yourself from others, and a mode through which communities are formed. This lecture will examine how notions of taste shaped social relations and a sense of national identity during the Meiji period (1868-1912), a time in which Japan was confronted with outside ideas concerning literature and art. What is at stake when we talk about taste? What does it mean to have "good taste" and why does it matter? These are some of the questions that will be addressed during this lecture.

  • Jurriaan van der Meer
    Jurriaan van der Meer Ph.D. candidate in Japanese literature at Leiden University, the Netherlands. After completing his BA in Japan Studies at Leiden University, he received MA degrees in Japanese literature from Leiden University, Waseda University (Japan) and Columbia University (New York City, USA). His current research examines how notions of taste and aesthetic judgement were conceptualised in literary circles in Japan during the Meiji and Taisho periods.

Progressive, free, and beautiful: how people with disabilities make products at Shobu Gakuen

Shin Fukumori

Director of Shobu Gakuen, facility for people with intellectual disabilities

Date & Time: February 1 (Fri) from 18:00 - 19:00
Location: Lloyd Zaal 

Shobu Gakuen was founded as a facility for people with disabilities in Kagoshima City in 1973. The facility is built in stunning, unique set of buildings set in a beautiful green landscape. Moved by the sensitivity that its residents had for craft and making, the facility set up the ‘Shobu Atelier’ in 1985, hosting workshops for crafts such as woodworking, ceramics, and fabric dyeing, among others. They created an environment in which each individual could hone their skills and develop incredible expertise in their chosen craft. In 2006 they launched a bakery, a pasta cafe, and a gallery that are open to the public, and since then it has become a place for residents from the surrounding region to come and relax.

This time, we are very fortunate to be able to have the director of Shobu Gakuen, Shin Fukumori, to come and give a lecture about how he and his team built such a progressive place. Shobu Gakuen has now been around for 45 years. Fukumori succeeded the role of director from his father, and continued his mission to produce beautiful crafts, and to cultivate musical and craft activities. Fukumori, who lives and closely with the residents, will talk about his vision for the future of the facility, giving a glimpse into the creativity of the residents, the value of their craftsmanship and the products they produce.

Shobu Atelier
Shobu Atelier is a workshop for woodworking, ceramics, textile arts, and painting. Residences with disabilities and visitors gather here together to make crafts.

There is a wide range of tableware, bags, accessories, and furniture made here. At Shobu Gakuen, the residents are able to express themselves through their work, which they are also able to sell. They receive the proceeds from their work so that they are able to establish their own independent making practice. Rather than designing products oriented towards market demand, Shobu Gakuen supports the residents in making whatever they feel like. By selecting their handiwork and putting them together to make original products, Shobu Gakuen has created a system in which they are able to make beautiful things.

Nui project 
Some people are unable to make objects according to a plan or design. But, thanks to their incredible powers of concentration and determination, they are able to make things that no one else can, in a spontaneously and uncontrived way. 
One of the projects Shobu Gakuen leads is the Nui Project. In this project, makers use a needle and thread to sew products using their exceptional focus, becoming completely absorbed in their task and leading to unconventional and idiosyncratic products.

  • Shin Fukumori
    Shin Fukumori has worked for Shobu Gakuen, a facility for intellectually disabled people, since 1983. After teaching himself woodwork and crafts, he set up Shobu Gakuen. In 2000, he set up the ‘nui project’, which focuses on sewing and stitching and which received both domestic and international acclaim.

    He is the mastermind behind many projects that help to create different means of expression for people with intellectual disabilities and communicate to society just how skilled and capable people can be in spite of their impairments. These projects span crafts, arts, and music, and include the sound performance ‘otto&orabu’, a project to make furniture, and a project based around the concept of ‘Food, clothes, shelter and communication’, all of which express the new ‘Shobu style’.


Cross-cultural discussion on Craft and Design - Japan and the Netherlands

Vincent Schipper and Klara van Duijkeren

Studio The Future

Rei Watanabe

Unagi no Nedoko

Date & Time: February 3 (Sun) from 11:30 - 12:30
Location: Lloyd Zaal 

In Japan many traditional crafts and industries have survived. The Netherlands, on the other hand, has lost much of its manufacturing base, but has developed a strong design and creative industry. An open discussion will be held with Studio The Future from the Netherlands, cultural trading company Unagi-no-Nedoko, and artists who have joined the artist-in-residence project “Holland House” in Saga prefecture in Japan. They will discuss topics such as the differences in the perception of craft and design between the two cultures, the meaning and impact of collaborations between the two countries, and the future of craft and design in Japan and the Netherlands.

  • Studio The Future
    Studio The Future is an Amsterdam-based editorial and design studio, curatorial team, artist duo, and experiment-focused publisher, founded in 2013 by Vincent Schipper and Klara van Duijkeren.

    Unagi no Nedoko is a retail shop and producer that works with traditional and industrial makers of Kyushu region of Japan. The company’s goal is to find ways of reviving local cultures in the modern economic system.