V&A refurbishes Japanese gallery in latest FuturePlan design phase

The redesigned gallery will feature mobile phone designs by Naoto Fukasawa, the first-ever Sony Walkman and Hello Kitty! paraphernalia.

'OO-IX' Sculpture by Hayashi Shigeki © Hayashi Shigeki and Yufuku Gallery.  Victoria and Albert Museum, London
‘OO-IX’ Sculpture by Hayashi Shigeki © Hayashi Shigeki and Yufuku Gallery. Victoria and Albert Museum, London

London’s Victoria & Albert Museum is refurbishing its Toshiba Gallery of Japanese Art as part of its ongoing FuturePlan design programme.

FuturePlan has been running for around ten years and has seen more than 70% of the museum’s public spaces redesigned, with recent projects including the European Galleries and the Italian Cast Court.

The refurbished Japanese gallery is set to open in November. The V&A’s in-house design team is working on the project alongside the gallery’s lead curator Rupert Faulkner.

“From high-end to kawaii street”

The original design for the gallery, which opened in 1986, was by Paul Williams of Stanton Williams Architects.

The V&A says it is updating the lighting, graphics and display cases, while the gallery itself will be reconfigured.

The museum says the new gallery will “give space to modern and contemporary objects such as interior design, product design, electronics, photography, graphics and fashion – both high-end and kawaii street”.

Mobile phones meet suits of armour

Recent acquisitions that will go on show in the gallery include a selection of mobile phones designed by Naoto Fukasawa and a Hello Kitty! Rice cooker, toaster and kettle.

There are around 30 new acquisitions for the gallery, bringing the total number of exhibits to around 550.

The first ever portable stereo Walkman, designed and manufactured by Sony in 1979, will be shown, as will Shirō Kuramata’s 1989 “Cabinet of Curiosities” made of coloured Perspex acrylic. An outfit from Issey Miyake’s 132 5. Range, which employs the concept of origami to create a piece of women’s wear out of a single piece of fabric, will also be in display.

As well as contemporary objects, the gallery will also display historic pieces from the sixth century onwards, including swords and armour, ceramics, textiles and prints.

AUN II by Tanabe Shochiku (c) Tanabe Chikuunsai, Victoria and Albert Museum, London
AUN II by Tanabe Shochiku (c) Tanabe Chikuunsai, Victoria and Albert Museum, London
The Mazarin Chest, c. 1640 (c) Victoria and Albert Museum, London
The Mazarin Chest, c. 1640 (c) Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Cloisonné enamel vases by Namikawa Yasuyuki c.1880-90 (c) Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Cloisonné enamel vases by Namikawa Yasuyuki c.1880-90 (c) Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Kimono, 1790-1830 (c) Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Kimono, 1790-1830 (c) Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Discover more:

• V&A to open refurbished Italian Cast Court in latest phase of FuturePlan

• V&A furniture gallery to feature digital labelling

• V&A to reopen Fashion Gallery following refurbishment

• V&A FuturePlan continues with new European galleries

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