Is it design or is it art? Or maybe it's both? To categorise the works of Toumei - a brand founded by Baku Takahashi and Tomoko Wada in 2016 - might not be the easiest job. However, by designing, creating and not to mention, hand-blowing each piece of glass work, they're the epitome of an all-around, modern-day 'Maker' that's worth celebrating.
By the time they had both turned 27, Takahashi & Wada decided to work together as Toumei, which means 'transparent' in Japanese. They explained, 'Glass has various attractions and discoveries, and we like to create works that convey it. And transparent, we think it's also the best attraction of any glass works.'
Baku Takahashi (Top) and Tomoko Wada's (Bottom) individual works at Link Lion.
Although they set up their workshop together in Fukuoka, they usually work separately. Takahashi loves to seize the moment when glass melts and creates very witty, 'kawaii', candy-like miniature sculptures, while Wada tends to incorporate different small objects, such as branches, stones, even discarded waste into clear glass containers, resulting in surreal yet visually dynamic works.
When it's time to create Toumei's work, then only the collaboration between them commences. At their first Taipei show, not only were visitors able to see their individual work, their signature Toumei vases were also on display. During this busy time in their schedule, I too seize the moment to ask them about their history, the designer/artist debate and the future of the glass profession in Japan.
Baku Takahashi's Covered with color Series.
Tomoko Wada's Apartment Series.
How did you two meet? What was your first impression of each other?
Baku: We were classmates at the Tama Art University department of craft and learning glass art in Tokyo.
Tomoko: He seemed great and was a very nice person to talk to.
Do you consider yourself a designer or an artist? Or both? How so?
Baku: I am making something I want to make, so I think that it is both as a result.
Tomoko: I think that I am an artist, but I think that thinking as a designer is necessary when considering Toumei's products.
How would you describe your style?
Baku: I think that they are quite fun.
Tomoko: For my work, I lay out pieces of glass and all the materials and parts I found, so that I can make discoveries in space.
Takahashi and Wada working together for Toumei collection.
Toumei collection includes coloured vases and drinking glasses.
Some of your works are quite small and delicate. What are the challenges in this?
Baku: Actually, it's easier to make. The challenge is always to grasp the glass material fresh.
Tomoko: It is difficult to make large pieces of glass (work) with glass, and it is easy to sell in Japan. I think that I can express more in this size, but I want to do larger works too.
Would you categorize your work as Japanese?
Baku: When I was a child I often drew Japanese anime. After becoming an adult, I was influenced by writers around the world through the Internet. Nature in Japan is also an inspiration.
Tomoko: I do not think it is Japanese or has a global influence. But I think there is an influence from my teacher at university.
How do you see your profession in the future?
Baku: I want to continue creating works until I die. It is a motivation to know what kind of work you can create by the time you die.
Tomoko: I'd like more people to see my works, and I want to meet the people of the world through my works.
Toumei Glass Exhibition is on show now at Taipei's Link Lion Gallery until 5th November.
Any views or opinions in the post are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the company or contributors.
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