Focal point: Alamak brings Asia's design ambitions to the fore

Alamak is celebrating Asian art and design
Alamak is celebrating Asian art and design talent in a recently launched exhibition in Berlin.
(Image credit: Martin Mueller)

Where is design in Asia headed? Yoichi Nakamuta has a few insights. The Tokyo-based designer and founder of Alamak – a platform promoting contemporary Asian art and design – has brought together ten leading designers from nine countries across the continent to Berlin to represent some of the region’s current concerns and most innovative practices.

The ten designers – working in China, Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, India, Indonesia, and the Philippines – each respond to their own environment and context, but as Nakamuta reveals through the exhibition, each is invested in local materials and resources, and transforming them using modern technology to create ultra-contemporary, covetable designs that will make you look differently at the everyday. The exhibition is Alamak’s second in Europe following on from their inaugural presentation at the Triennial in Milan in April.

Pescador by Gabriel Lichauco

'Pescador', by Gabriel Lichauco, 2016

(Image credit: TBC)

Highlights include Bangkok-based Anon Pairot’s 'The Ordinarian Tank' (2016), taking the shape of jerry cans used widely across Thailand for carrying liquids. Pairot has cast the can form in aluminium and brass, giving them a luxurious feel that’s far from their familiar appearance, while reversing their domestic function by turning them into a pull-up stool rather than a portable water carrier.

In a similar vein, Gunjan Gupta takes the ubiquitous jute sacks (known as boris) used for local produce in India, reworking them into hand-upholstered padded cushions that makes up the seat of a ‘Bori Throne,’ a sculptural furniture item that also incorporates found bicycle parts inspired by Indian bicycle vendors.

In addition to local materials, the Alamak exhibition also throws light on the influence of local culture and history of these Asian designers. An Indonesian traditional dance telling the story of a war fought in Java against Dutch colonisers is the inspiration behind Alvin Tjitrwowirjo’s 'Lumping Rocking Horse' (2016). The outdoor toy is constructed in rattan on an aluminium frame and is weather resistant. It’s a playful take on how to pass down stories from Indonesia’s past.

Left, Black Circular Bench and Right, The Moment of Eclipse

Left, 'Black Circular Bench', by Kwangho Lee, 2015, from the 'Obsession' series. Right, 'The Moment of Eclipse', by Kwangho Lee, 2016

(Image credit: TBC)

Left, The Birmingham Library and Right, Boombox

Left, 'The Birmingham Library' side table, by Jingjing Naihan Li, 2015, from the 'I Am A Monument' series. Right, 'Boombox', by Yuri Suzuki, 2016

(Image credit: TBC)

The Ordinarian Tank

'The Ordinarian Tank', by Anon Pairot, 2016

(Image credit: TBC)

Left, CCTV wardrobe and Right, Geometry stool

Left, 'CCTV' wardrobe, by Jingjing Naihan Li, 2014, from the 'I Am A Monument' series. Right, 'Geometry' stool, by Koichi Futatsumata, 2016

(Image credit: TBC)


’Alamak!’ is on view until 19 January 2017. For more information, visit the Alamak website


Strausberger Platz 3
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Charlotte Jansen is a journalist and the author of two books on photography, Girl on Girl (2017) and Photography Now (2021). She is commissioning editor at Elephant magazine and has written on contemporary art and culture for The Guardian, the Financial Times, ELLE, the British Journal of Photography, Frieze and Artsy. Jansen is also presenter of Dior Talks podcast series, The Female Gaze.