Artist’s Palate: Tokujin Yoshioka’s wagashi

’Invisible’ table
’Invisible’ table, £345, by Tokujin Yoshioka, for Kartell. Interiors: Matthew Morris. Food: Peta O’Brien
(Image credit: John Short)

In the world of Japanese artist and designer Tokujin Yoshioka, glass chairs suddenly disappear when wet, and swirling clouds turn out to be drinking straws. His work defies definition, a legacy perhaps of the 20-odd years he has spent working with Issey Miyake. But there is warmth and wonder in his work, as witnessed in ‘S.F_Senses of the Future’, his collaboration with LG at this year’s Salone del Mobile. Whet your appetite with his favourite treat, wagashi, Japanese sweets that have evolved into an art form.

Rich in fibre, wagashi are made from vegetable-based ingredients. Various ingredients are used, including a variety of flours and sweeteners.
The principle element of wagashi is an, a bean paste made of beans and sugar. In particular, azuki beans are a defining ingredient, without which wagashi can hardly be conceived.

Its hearty flavour is paired with a reddish colour, a particularly potent combination as red is believed to ward off disaster and disease.

The beans are cooked with sugar, then mashed, and finely strained to produce a smooth azuki bean paste called gozen an (or koshi an). If some of the solid bits of the beans are left intact, it becomes a whole azuki bean paste called ogura an (or tsubu an).

These two pastes are the mainstay of wagashi, while other beans, such as the white azuki beans and the white kidney beans, are used to produce a white bean paste called shiro an.

As originally featured in the May 2017 issue of Wallpaper* (W*218)


The installation is on view until 9 April. For more information, visit the Tokujin Yoshioka website


Via Tortona, 27
Milan 20144

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Daven Wu is the Singapore Editor at Wallpaper*. A former corporate lawyer, he has been covering Singapore and the neighbouring South-East Asian region since 1999, writing extensively about architecture, design, and travel for both the magazine and website. He is also the City Editor for the Phaidon Wallpaper* City Guide to Singapore.