Naoshima is a small island located in the Seto Inland Sea of Japan. For decades it was a sleepy fishing community before it became a destination for contemporary art and architecture. This was a result of an agreement in 1985 between Benesse Corporation and the then mayor; Chikatsugu Miyake.
Known as the “Art Island”, Naoshima contains some of the most impressive galleries like Benesse House, Chichū Art Museum and Lee Ufan Museum, which are unmistakably designed by Japanese superstar architect Tadao Ando .
On my second trip to Japan, I wanted to visit places that were a little off the beaten path, and somewhere that appealed to my interest in design and architecture. A friend, who is a seasoned traveller to Japan enthusiastically told me about Teshima Art Museum, with something along the lines of “Dude! water comes out of the concrete floors! you have to go!” and she was right, I just had to go and see this art installation myself.
On any given day, waking bleary eyed at 3 a.m to the sound of my alarm gently coaxing me to consciousness usually results in an uncoordinated fumble to hit the snooze button. On this day though, I dutifully got up and went through the motions of the morning routine, because 8 months prior, I excitedly purchased flights to Japan without realising the consequences of a 6 a.m international flight. The following few hours were a blur honestly, I admittedly binge watched the latest season of Girls, and when my eyeballs felt like they were about to fall out from dryness I just slept. I think being able to sleep on a plane without the aid of any melatonin is one of my greatest skills, I’ll be sure to put that down on my resume next time.
There is no doubt that technology plays a huge part in our lives and has replaced a lot of physical objects like news stands, book shops and magazines. Fewer people use a good old pen and paper to jot down ideas and write down notes, but those who still do certainly have an appreciation for quality stationery that is functional and beautiful. I myself am of course one of those people, there is a real ease in scribbling down ideas on a blank page and being able to flick back to see your process that a tablet can’t give you.
I sometimes do question the relevance of starting a stationery business in a time dominated by tablets and smartphones, but then I come across beautiful brands and people that still share this ideology that nothing gets the brain juices flowing than having the time to sit with your own thoughts and write or draw them down.
For anyone who has been to Japan, you will be well aware that the place is stationery heaven! from the kitsch to the beautifully handcrafted. I am heading to Japan in a few months and I can not wait to see all the beautiful paper and stationery, and visit paper boutiques who clearly understand the relationship someone has with a pen to paper. My tools of choice are a blank sketchbook and a Palomino Blackwing pencil, what’s yours?