Industrial Arts Institute

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Charlotte Perriand (1903—1999)


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(established 1928)

Established in Sendai, Japan, the Industrial Arts Institute (IAI) came under the aegis of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (which later became the Ministry of International Trade and Industry—MITI) in 1932. Originally conceived as an agency for the promotion of mass‐production techniques and new products to smaller companies in northern Japan, it also published a monthly design journal and held an annual exhibition to showcase new products. After moving to Tokyo in 1933, it became the leading body for design development in Japan for the next 40 years. It published the influential periodical Kogei Nyusu (Industrial Art News, 1932–74) and continued to put on annual exhibitions, the first of which was mounted in the Mitsukoshi department store in 1933. The German designer Bruno Taut visited the show and was highly critical of the ways in which Japanese designers mimicked European products, suggesting instead a reconciliation of indigenous craft skills with the realities of modern mass‐production technologies. Other foreign designers with close links to the IAI included the French architect‐designer Charlotte Perriand, who arrived in Japan in 1940. During the 1940s the Institute employed many designers (such as Isamu Kenmochi, Iwataro Koike, and Jiro Kosugi) who were to emerge as key figures in the post‐Second World War period. It played a critical role in this period of Japanese reconstruction and occupation by the American General Headquarters, working closely with companies such as Toshiba and Mitsubishi. During the 1950s, seeking to dispel the widely held view overseas that Japanese goods were inferior and poor value for money, it also promoted Japanese design abroad at important international design showcases such as the Milan Triennali of 1957 and 1960 and the Brussels International Exhibition of 1958. In 1969 the Institute was restructured and renamed.

Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art.

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