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Hot Presses, Cold War: Furniture Manufacturing and Geopolitics in Occupation Era Japan

Dr. Sarah Teasley, Royal College of Art, London

Thursday, May 15, 2014 - 3:30pm
Savery Hall 138

Dr. Sarah Teasley (Design History & Theory, Royal College of Art, London) explores the impact of the Allied Occupation of Japan (1945-52) on Japan’s furniture manufacturing industry, looking at interactions of different magnitudes ranging from the broader economic and social policies and conditions such as materials shortages to commissioning processes that affected several hundred firms and specific interpersonal exchanges between Occupation members and key industry figures. Drawing on public, personal, and corporate archival work in Japan and the US as well as on oral history and object analysis, she argues for a multi-level approach to understanding historical change, and suggests that close attention to seemingly obscure industries can be surprisingly fruitful.

Dr. Sarah Teasley is Reader in Design History and Theory in the School of Humanities, Royal College of Art, London. Her research into the history of product and furniture design and manufacturing in modern and contemporary Japan brings historical analysis to bear on contemporary issues in design, society and technology today. Her current project explores the relationship between furniture manufacturing and public policy in Japan c. 1890-1970, with attention to areas including technical education, materials and technology R&D, industrial research institutes and class in manufacturing culture. Her publications include the books Global Design History (Routledge, 2011) and Designing Modern Japan (Reaktion, forthcoming 2014) as well as articles in journals including Japanstudien, The Journal of Design History and Design Issues. She is Associate Editor of the journal Design and Culture.

Sponsored by the UW Japan Studies Program and made possible by the Seattle Art Museum Gardner Center for Asian Art and Ideas. For information contact

Dr. Teasley will also be speaking Saturday, May 17, 2014 at the Seattle Asian Art Museum for Deco Day: A Full-Day Symposium. For more details and registration information, please go to the SAM website.