Design Collaboration Enhances the Ties Between Denmark and Japan


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Photo by Lars Vejen

Lars Vejen and the owner of Kyogawara - one of Lars' collaborators.


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Photo by Lars Vejen

A small selection of tools used for silver and tin production


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Photo by Lars Vejen

A sneak peak from the workshop where paper lanterns are made.


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Photo by Lars Vejen

Lars Vejen and Yoshihiro Torihara - a representative of Lars' first Japanese collaborator Kohseki.


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Photo by Lars Vejen

A stigma marks the collaboration.


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Photo by Lars Vejen

Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts who hosts the exhibition later this year.


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Logo by Henrik Kubel and Katsumi Asaba

The official anniversary logo.


This year Denmark and Japan are celebrating their 150th anniversary of diplomatic relations. That means a year full of activities, events and design collaborations between the two countries. For Danish architect and designer Lars Vejen, who has a lot of Japanese collaborators, the anniversary is a reminder of the importance of good relations.

“This anniversary is a reminder of the importance of good relations and of us having a history together. Whether it’s old or brand new isn’t important; the most important is the will and desire to support each other. If that’s established, you have a good foundation to build on your common story,” Lars Vejen tells.

Japan has been a big part in architect and designer Lars Vejen’s professional life for quite some time. His Japanese adventure started back in 1995, when he was offered an internship at a company in Kyoto. It was love at first sight, and since then he has visited the country every year. Last year, Lars started the project Design Collaborations, which included two solo exhibitions, to show off the work he did with his collaborators in Denmark, but this year Lars is expanding, with a lot of new Japanese collaborators and a new project called Design Collaborations/Japan-Denmark 150 years.

During his many visits to Japan, Lars Vejen has naturally increased his network of relevant partners. His inclination to work with all kinds of Japanese craftsmanship shows in his choice of collaborators and their wide range of skills. But what is his motivation for all these collaborations? To Lars, the answer is simple:

“It’s very hard for me to resist a professional challenge and especially in collaborations, the amazing energy that occurs when you are developing and creating something together! I feel extremely privileged because I can make a living out of something that I love the most. I’m also in a fortunate position where I can work from everywhere. All I need is my sketch book, a pen and occasionally some WiFi.”

The upcoming exhibition Design Collaborations/Japan-Denmark 150 years is an incredibly ambitious project, showcasing his work with more than ten new Japanese collaborators, covering everything from start-ups to old family-owned companies from the Kyoto-area. Lars Vejen has great hopes for the future event.

“I really hope this project will focus attention on the value of great ideas, noble craftsmanship and high quality – something we definitely need in a world with ‘plastic oceans’. I have always aimed to create classic, long-lasting design and this project is no exception. In the future, I would like to invite other designers and craftsmen from both Japan and Denmark to take part in the project as a sort of curator or match-maker”, Lars finishes.

The result of the project will be exhibited at the Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts, and opens on the 3rd of November, which, very conveniently, happens to be Japan’s national holiday: Culture Day.

Companies mentioned in this article

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