Many of the journalists and buyers who came to Nipponista were eager to know the relationship between the event and the teddy bear balloon art, which decorated the entrance. Some explained that the beautiful balloon art, which took days to prepare, would only last for three days, the life span for balloons, and that this effect was comparable to Japanese aesthetics where fragility is considered beautiful. But in the end, it was up to the visitors to define the relationship between the two.
Nipponista intentionally did away with any stereotypical images of Japan such as Mt. Fuji and kimonos. Designer Kansai Yamamoto, who participated in the event as one of the Japanese representatives, was perhaps the symbol of Nipponista. He appeared wearing his latest designs and communicated Japanese culture in his own unique ways.
“There were times when I gathered ‘Japanese’ items and took them overseas, but I wonder if there is such a need at this particular time. A robot made in Japan doesn’t necessarily have Japanese qualities. Even when it comes to fashion, locality doesn’t matter. Uniqlo and H&M are good examples. Isetan Mitsukoshi produced the event based on the theme ‘Cool Japan,’ but perhaps all parties involved, including the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, need to re-evaluate what this really means,” commented Mr. Yamamoto.
After seeing the balloon artworks by Daisy Balloon, he added, “Lady Gaga’s next step should be to wear these types of designs which express the design as a whole, including the grounded concept rather than wear costumes that stand out on its own. I’m not sure if this is Japanese or not though.”
“If our artworks possess a Japanese quality, it’d have to be delicacy,” added art director/graphic designer Takashi Kawada of Daisy Balloon.
“Delicacy is not particular to Japan, but really a global characteristic. If I had to choose for myself, I would say ‘aesthetics’ is what differentiates Japan from others. And the ethos, I might add. It could be the spiritual aspect since only the Chinese and Japanese can draw sumi-e (Chinese-ink drawings). Opposite delicacy lies diversity. Japanese culture takes in various cultures. However, historically western cultures weren't respected. Words such as ‘Nanban’ and ‘Banzoku’ (barbarians) speak for themselves.”
“Delicate aspects of the event are good, but the energy of presenting themselves is a bit weak. The voices of people speaking are too soft. Each of the creators introduced at the event are highly talented and I have no doubt that Japan can continue to excel in the field of design, similarly to household appliances and cars. If I were to provide suggestions, I would advise people to speak out with more volume and make greater impact. I’m overwhelmed by the character of each of the designs though,” said Mr. Yamamoto as he stepped out for some fresh air.
As soon as Mr. Yamamoto was outside, he was surrounded by tourists and New Yorkers in the area, and he willingly posed for photographs. He has maintained a character which goes beyond trends.