Japan - U-Tsu-Wa

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Exhibition design:

Visual direction:


21_21 Design Sight website

Issey Miyake


A three-person exhibition showcasing ceramic artists Lucie Rie and Jennifer Lee, and woodturning artist Ernst Gamperl at the Miyake Issey Foundation gallery 21_21 DESIGN SIGHT in Tokyo.

There are certain projects which stand out in someone’s life and are special on many levels. For Jennifer Lee, U-Tsu-Wa was such an event. A unique convergence of ideas and people. In particular it was a chance to work with Issey Miyake, who first became aware of Jennifer’s work in 1990 and whose clothes Jennifer loves and has worn ever since. It took twenty years for a joint project to be realised, making it all the more significant.

It is also a rare honour for a British potter to exhibit in Japan where there is such a strong tradition of ceramics and the appreciation of its importance is so widespread. Pots are revered in Japan. U-Tsu-Wa was attended by 40,000 people and received over seventy reviews.

The exhibition was held in the Miyake Issey Foundation design museum, 21_21 Design Sight in Tokyo. The building was designed by Tadao Ando in 2007. For this exhibition Ando came back to 21_21 and designed an extraordinary installation. Each artists’ work was laid out in the constellation of their astrological star sign. Ernst Gamperl’s wooden bowls rested on a bed of crushed glass. The pots of Jennifer Lee and Lucie Rie appeared to float on a vast shimmering pool of gently moving water behind which cascaded a 100 foot wide waterfall.

“Utsuwa ('vessels') were one of the tools that have supported people's daily lives around the world since ancient times; they have passed along the warmth born of the craftsman's hands to the user.”

21_21 Design Sight

From the U-Tsu-Wa exhibition catalogue essay “Within the blank spatial time of a vessel…” by Akiko Moriyama


Lucie Rie, Jennifer Lee, Ernst Gamperl

Planning & supervising: Issey Miyake
Exhibition catalogue visual direction: Kohei Sugiura
Photography: Hiroshi Iwasaki
Text: Akiko Moriyama

132 pages
Japanese/English bilingual
ISBN-10: 4763009079
ISBN-13: 978-4763009074
28 x 21.4 x 2 cm
Publisher: Kyuryudo Art Publishing Co., Ltd.
Available from Amazon

“Jennifer Lee’s pots present a quiet abstract exploration of space – her works often evoke a deep sense of nature for the viewer. ”

21_21 Design Sight

“As these three artists create their unique worlds, they are constantly breathing in the “now”– without inhibitions or falling into patterns of tradition or era.”

21_21 Design Sight