Featured Locals

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Speakers and Hosts


Azby Brown

Azby Brown has lived in Japan since 1985 and is a leading authority on Japanese architecture, design, and environmentalism. His groundbreaking writings on traditional Japanese carpentry, compact housing, and traditional sustainable practices of Japan are recognized as having brought these fields to the awareness of Western designers and the general public. As founder and director of the Future Design Institute at the Kanazawa Institute of Technology, he conducted joint research in the neurobiology of the hand and hand-based creativity and communication. Since 2011 he has been a core member of Safecast, a highly successful global volunteer-based organization formed in close collaboration with the MIT Media Lab, devoted to developing new technology platforms for crowdsourced environmental monitoring which promote on open-source and open data principles. He is the lead author of the Safecast Report on the consequences of the Fukushima disaster. His current focus is on the reuse of obsolete military bases in Europe and Japan, and evaluating the rebuilding process of Japanese coastal towns destroyed by the 2011 tsunami.

Mami Kataoka

Mami Kataoka has been chief curator of Mori Art Museum in Tokyo since 2003 where she has curated a number of exhibitions, including “Ai Weiwei: According to What?” (2009/ US Tour 2012-13), “Lee Bul”(2012), “Makoto Aida” (2012), “Lee Mingwei and His Relations” (2014-15), and “N. S. Harsha: Charming Journey” (2017). Prior to this position, Kataoka was Chief Curator at Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery and researcher at the NLI Research Institute on cultural policies and urban development projects. She was also International curator at the Hayward Gallery in London from 2007 to 2009. In 2012 she guest curated “Phantoms of Asia: Contemporary Awakens the Past” at Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, and was a Co-Artistic Director for the 9th Gwangju Biennale in South Korea. She has served as a professor at Kyoto University of Art and Design Graduate School of Art and Design Studies since 2016. Kataoka has now been appointed as artistic director of the 21st Biennale of Sydney in 2018.

Photo by Daniel Boud

Kazuko Koike

Kazuko Koike was born in Tokyo in 1936. She graduated with a Literature Major from Waseda University. She is currently a Professor Emeritus of Musashino Art University and the Director of Towada Art Center since 2016, and Advisory Board Member of MUJI since its establishment. Kazuko is also the editor of ISSEY MIYAKE East Meets West as well as Ikko Tanaka and Future/Past/East/West of Design among others. Her most recent work is The TASCHEN Issey Miyake.