In a world full of modern and contemporary storage options, it is easy to overlook the baskets' subtle yet fascinating artistry, despite being used for centuries as repository objects. These minimal containers, often meticulously made by hand, contain evidence of the intriguing tapestry woven of human skill, our varied histories, and myriad cultures. From their humble, olden beginnings to attempts at modern revival, baskets have endured societal shifts, staying as adaptable and significant as ever. Currently, they are used as intricate pieces of art or as practical tools for gathering and storing simple treasures and daily keepsakes.
Japanese designer Shigeki Fujishiro and Korean design team KUO DUO explore the modest yet fascinatingly layered world of basket designs through their exhibition aptly titled Something To Put Something In. On view in Tokyo, Japan, from June 9 - June 28, 2023, the exhibition aims to highlight each designer’s interpretation of baskets based on and uncovered through the showcase's moniker. Fujishiro, with his extremely elementary and universal designs, collaborated with KUO DUO, with their hands-on experimentation and material investigation for the exhibition, which invites visitors on a playful tour of their imaginative approaches and compositions prioritising functionality and sustainability to create objects such as baskets, vessels, and vases.
Fujishiro presents a variety of baskets that were originally created for the 'Basket Club' activity, the 'Japan Creative Bamboo' project, and other distinct projects. 'Weave Plastic Basket,' a brand-new piece designed by KUO DUO is created from recycled plastic waste and was displayed alongside 'Reel Basket' and 'Fire Wood Vessel,' two of their earlier creations.
The Japanese designer utilised a combination of existing materials, instead of focusing on new materials. A threaded vinyl sheet, generally used as a rain cover, was chosen to cut out the pattern for the designs. With the use of a cutter, slits were made to the packing paper bands, which were then knit together to form a basket. The basket is transparent, creating a welcome contrast between the colour of the paper band, and the colours of the basket's contents, ultimately drawing emphasis on the form. Meanwhile, the Korean designer duo utilised offcuts from their previous furniture design projects to create baskets for the design exhibition. Since each offcut had a unique shape and only the edges remained, using the board as is was challenging. Therefore, they attempted to cut it with a table saw. Solid recycled plastic board was transformed into flexible straps by cutting them into smaller layers, which gave them the idea to weave them together to create new products. While this sustainable design approach employed for the baskets was influenced by conventional oriental baskets, they used innovative plastic straps to create a variety of modern-looking woven baskets.
With Something To Put Something In, Product designers KUO DUO and Fujishiro blend form and function, innovation and tradition, to journey and explore the realm of how the ordinary can become remarkable and useful. The exhibition also highlights the usage of recycled materials to craft product designs that are sustainable, durable, and aesthetically unique.
Text by Ria Jha