Japanese Artist Haroshi

Katsushika City, Tokyo

Haroshi is widely known not only in Japan, but internationally as well, for his skateboard motif sculptures. His unique artwork, which is hand-carved from several used skateboards glued together, is gaining popularity in the art scene year after year. His studio in downtown Tokyo is lined with hundreds of skateboards, various tools and machines. In one corner, there is a full-scale skate lamp that he created himself. Haroshi’s lifestyle radiates from the space itself.

“At the time, one of Japan’s largest skate parks was in this neighbourhood, so I moved here 12 years ago. Around here, small town workshops still remain, and many craftspeople live here. The studio’s landlord is also very understanding of art, making it very easy to work.”

The second floor of the studio, used for designing and meetings, is a bit cluttered, but at the same time a bit of a street art gallery. Among them, the pieces displayed on the USM Haller are all special to Haroshi.

“Since I carve skateboards for my work, dust inevitably accumulates in the room, but the USM Haller displays the work in a perfect state. By placing it here, how it is perceived changes. I had known about USM Haller from interior design magazines for more than a decade. I had been using small shelves, but last year I bought additional parts to expand it.”

Displayed on the cabinet are a collectors’ favourite “BE@RBRICK Karimoku Haroshi 400%,” a three-dimensional work by the highly respected Joyce Pensato, and PVC figures from Hirota Saigansho, which he has interactions with. A mushroom-shaped object that a friend found in the neighbourhood is also one of his favourites.

“The Eames leg splint on the wall was made from plywood and used for broken legs during World War II. It’s a well-made product.”

Modern skateboards are also made of plywood; therefore, it seems to be an extension of the leg splint. Hanging on another wall are older skateboards from the 1960s and 1980s, which he intentionally sought out and collected the most used and worn boards over a long period of time.

“I think skateboards and PVC figures are more attractive when they have been played with and are worn-out rather than new.”

Haroshi’s taste and USM Haller’s design would seem to be incompatible but instead possess a mysterious compatibility.

“Even the famous Winged Victory of Samothrace at the Louvre would not gain any attention if stored away in a warehouse, but it is divine when exhibited in front of a staircase in a vast space with high ceilings. Bringing out the best in an incomplete masterpiece is the key to the display. The pieces I have in the USM Haller are similar.  I believe the contrast of the furniture provides a very positive effect on the pieces.”

“Anyone who continues to study and practice will become good at sculpting a perfect design. But the better I become, the more boring it becomes for me. What I enjoy are the ones where I can find warmth and emotions in the vague imperfections. What more is there that only I can create? I think about that a lot lately.” – Haroshi

The art that Haroshi creates and collects is “imperfect” by general norms. He says that USM Haller’s perfect structure and function of horizontal and vertical composition is perfect for such artwork.

“Practical design is truly amazing. It’s functional, strong, durable, and above all, beautiful. I believe it is not something that will fade for decades or centuries.”

Click here for Haroshi’s official website

(Text by Takahiro Tsuchida | Photographs by Tadahiko Nagata)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *