In 2012, successors of Japanese traditional crafts came together to form the creative unit “Go On.” The unit’s mission is to preserve the skills and experiences of traditions and pave the way for the future.
Go On is formed by the members Masataka Hosoo, brand director of Nishijin-weave textiles manufacturer Hosoo founded in 1688, Takahiro Yagi, Director at Kaikado specializing in handmade tea caddies founded in 1875, Tatsuyuki Kosuga, Managing Director at Kohchosai Kosuga lining up bamboo products and founded in 1898, Toru Tsuji, Director at Kanaami-Tsuji specializing in Kyoto’s wire netting ware, Shuji Nakagawa of wooden crafts brand Nakagawa Mokkougei and Yusuke Matsubayashi, Director at Asahiyaki with a 400-year history specializing in Asahi pottery originating in Kyoto.
■ How it Began
A couple years ago, when the members were exhibiting their works at international fairs under their separate names, Hosoo, Yagi and Tsuji realized that they all wanted the same thing. That is, to make the work of traditional crafts something that children looked up to. Then in 2012, the three members came up with a project to line up their products at a luxury hotel in Shanghai. When the idea was presented to the Japanese government, it was adopted as part of the “Cool Japan” initiative to sell Japanese goods and culture to the rest of the world. With the success of their first project, the members came together to form Go On with a mission to create original Japanese products fusing each of their skills.
“We wanted to initiate something completely new, something that no one has done before. It’s a big challenge given the fast-paced world, but it’s important to create competitive markets. We also place value on refined designs. Our ultimate goal is to transform the traditional crafts industry to a creative one,” explained Hosoo.
■ From a Bar to Household Goods
In Dec 2014, the team opened the bar D.Bespoke in Singapore and filled it with ideas that defined the group. The bar is decorated with lighting using wire netting and other interior items designed by the team. A shop space selling the team’s products is setup as an annex to the bar.
The champagne cooler “konoha” produced by Nakagawa Mokkougei, renowned for the craft of the finest wood barrels and pails in Kyoto, took two years to complete. The hard work paid off because it became the official cooler of Dom Perignon.
Kanaami-Tsuji creates elegant tofu servers used widely when serving Kyoto cuisine. The brand made use of its techniques to create a new type of lamp using wire netting. The lampshade created with netting casts a gentle combination of light and shadows into spaces.
Asahiyaki collaborated with Danish Design Studio OeO to create a teaware collection with teapot and cups in modern silhouette and color. The collection was created for the Japan Handmade project led by Go On. “As long as we continue to create teaware, the rest can change,” said Yusuke Matsubayashi, the 16th leader of the brand. “Go On gives me an opportunity to discuss passionately on the art of creation with the other members. It keeps me motivated to take on new challenges,” he added.