I made it - you name it. Conversation with Otto Künzli in Tokyo

Published: 01.02.2016
Otto Künzli in front of the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in München in October 2010. Photo: Miriam Künzli. Otto Künzli in front of the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in München in October 2010. Photo: Miriam Künzli.
Makiko Akiyama
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Poster Otto Künzli. The Exhibition. The Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum, Tokyo. Photo by Naoya Ikegami, starring Kaoru Ishii.
. Street festival with lanterns and exhibition banner, Meguro-dōri Avenue near the Museum, Minato-ku, Tokyo. Photos by Otto Künzli.
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Poster Otto Künzli. The Exhibition. The Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum, Tokyo. Photo by Naoya Ikegami, starring Kaoru Ishii.
Street festival with lanterns and exhibition banner, Meguro-dōri Avenue near the Museum, Minato-ku, Tokyo. Photos by Otto Künzli.


© By the author. Read Copyright.

Otto Künzli. The Exhibition, traveled from Munich to Lausanne before its final destination in Tokyo. This interview with Otto Künzli is a companion to our previous interview with Akio Seki, a chief curator at the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum (TTM), and was conducted at the venue during the exhibit. The conversation went beyond the scope of the exhibit to include the artist’s view on his profession and jewellery, as well as his message to the next generation. The first draft of our follow-up discussion was far too informative to cut down so I’d like to introduce it as written.

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This exhibition is your first big retrospective in Japan, right?
Otto: I have participated in several group exhibitions in Japan, in galleries and also museums, but this is my first solo show in a museum in this country.

Text about the photo...
Der Rote Punkt as a sign of claim by the artist. Installation on the Façade of the 1933 Art Deco-style building. Photo: Miriam Künzli.

How did you develop the exhibition at Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Museum (TTM)?
Otto: When I prepare an exhibition, I consider the social, the cultural and historic background of the country, the city and the museum. The architectural characteristic of the building and the exhibition space are also of eminent importance. In this case I had to deal with two buildings, the very unique former residence of Prince Asaka, built in the 1930's in the Art-deco style and a brand new building with a white cube, a rather anonymous and universal situation most artists know. In the residence, many of the rooms are preoccupied with very beautiful interior design. In order to understand these rooms I visited the museum three times in advance and spent lots of time in every room to get inspired by the atmosphere and to find out what could be the best to do in the individual rooms. The decisions made had also to do with the former function of the rooms.
The all over concept for the imperial residence was to respond to and interact with the existing situation in a subtle way so that the visitors may recognise and enjoy the beauty of the historic rooms even more.

Pikachu. Official Waiting Room of the former Residence of Prince Asaka. Portrait taken by Karen Pontoppidan in Tokyo Kiddy Land 2004. Photo: Otto Künzli.

Yes, I and many visitors got the impression that the works and the function of the room were well matched, namely ‘The Manhattan Piece’ in the Smoking Room and ‘The Swiss Gold/The German Mark’ in the strongroom, etc.
Otto: That’s right, these are two obvious and natural solutions and good fun as well. With ‘The Manhattan Piece’ I wanted to express already in the 80's my resistance against a totalitarian pursuit of an activity with great historic rots in the human culture and clearly express a positive attitude toward diversity and freedom. Although being a non-smoker, I made an implement that can be used to celebrate smoking as an art-performance. It was perfect to exhibit it in the smoking salon. Other rooms were much more difficult and challenging.

The chain Die Deutsche Mark and the brooch Das Schweizer Gold (both 1983) in the drawers of the Emperial safe. Photo: Otto Künzli.

The Manhattan Piece exhibited in the Smoking Salon together with two photographs on the walls showing the piece in action. Photos: Miriam Künzli.

What would be a good sample for such a difficult or problematic space?
Otto: The hardest but also most intriguing was the Library of Prince Asaka. Although the shelves are empty by now, it feels like the storage room of accumulated knowledge, of his history, his collective memory, of his life. It is a dark room, a little bit sinister, yet in a way also beautiful. I thought it would be interesting to show some of my work in this room but it was hard to decide what pieces would be suitable. One is ‘777 Gaijin’, two strings of 777 pearls each, but of such a ‘bad’ quality of pearls that they usually don’t get drilled but rather discarded. Pearls are created because a foreign particle is bothering the oyster. The shell assimilates the intruder by ‘taking care’ of it, by assimilating the foreigner! This is indeed of political and social relevance. The two strings of ‘worthless’ pearls are actually of outstanding beauty!

The Library of Prince Asaka. 777 Gaijin 2009-10, two necklaces each made of 777 pearls. Photos: Miriam Künzli.

You have obviously selected mainly Japan related pieces for the residence and especially for the Library. Could you tell me about an other specific piece?
Otto: If the dialogue between a strong and charged location and an intense and complex art work is done in a responsible, careful and sensitive way it is possible to create synergetic situations which allow the visitors sensual and personal experiences and encounters going beyond the common subject meets object event. The pendants entitled ‘Undated’ is another large group exhibited on the bookshelf. They feature a combination of a Micky Mouse, a bomb and a phallic form. They are made of clay. It is an assemblage of weapon, violence, macho and anime. The title is expressing my understanding of violence, namely violence created by men. That is why the phallic aspect is important. And it cannot be dated. It appeared already in the deep dark unknown early days of mankind but in Japan I think there is an ultimate day for violence, August the 6th 1945.

Undated (probably pendants) 1993 on display in the Library. Photo: Otto Künzli.

Was there any specific difference in the approach to the Tokyo exhibition than the two venues before in Munich and Lausanne?
Otto: It is not the first time that I ‘travel’ with an exhibition and it is a very special and fantastic experience and challenge for an artist to show the same work in different locations.
The most obvious difference between the three places was the architectonic circumstances: in The International Design Museum – Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich I was provided with one large white cube of 280 square metres in a temporary industrial like pavilion. The mudac - Musée de design et d'arts appliqués contemporains in Lausanne at the other hand is a historic building from the 17th century. Before it got turned in a museum it was used as a boarding school and later for administration offices for the government.  There I could use eight rooms of the same total area then in Munich but with lower ceiling and with a rather cosy atmosphere. Here in Tokyo I got the incredible chance to exhibit in 24 rooms with a total floor space of over 1.200 square metres. In addition I put an installation piece on the façade and a small sculpture in the beautiful garden. This was an other league. Nothing compares…

The Great Hall. Heart (brooch 1985) on the wall and four pendants in showcases. Photo: Otto Künzli.

Sunrise-Sunset 1993, pendant hanging in the Young Prince’s Sitting Room. It is inspired by the famous phrase in the message that Shotoku Taishi, the imperial regent of Japan, sent to Emperor Yangdi of Sui Dynasty China. Ono no Imoko: “The sovereign of the land of the rising sun wishes the sovereign of the setting sun well.” Acrylic, nylon. Photo: Miriam Künzli.

Were there also differences in how to provide the visitors with information?
Otto: Every country and every society have new and diverse conditions and characteristics. Every museum and every curator have different approaches, other tasks and visions. I learned that Japanese visitors are keen to read and to learn. In Munich there were no labels but only numbers on the showcases and a leaflet with straight information such as title, year and material. In Lausanne I agreed that the curator put short quotes from the book on the wall. That gave the venue a more poetic note and the grouping in eight rooms became clearer. Here in Tokyo the technical information was again written directly on the showcases and a leaflet with additional information and a floor map of the many rooms was provided to the visitors. For all those interested in getting more details and background information a really nice new bilingual book got published (see details at the end of the interview). The day after the opening I hold a public lecture about all the works inspired by my many visits to Japan. A video-interview based on the questions from Akio Seki, the chief curator of the TTM, was permanently shown in the museum.

The Colour 1981, 1138 brooches in 569 different colours, on display in the Great Dinning Hall. Photo: Miriam Künzli.

The way information provided shows the artists’ and museums’ view on the relationship between the art works and audience but how do you see this point?
Artists and curators should trust in the artwork as well as in the audience. Art is, that makes it so interesting, never for every recipient the same. Imponderability, the surprising moments, the open free space for wondering thoughts and feelings that opens up again and again between the work and its recipient, these are the true values lying imbedded in art. I truly believe that museums should not direct the audience and instruct them how to think and feel but rather to provide them with tools, with thought-provoking impulses and information and stimulate them to make their own personal and individual experiences. That was our task in Tokyo and I belief that we did very well.

Change and Good News from the Islands, since 2003, silver and gold (coins), scattered over the historic wooden floor of the Young Princess’ Sitting Room. Photos: Otto Künzli (left) and Miriam Künzli (right).

Contemporary jewellery is less known in Japan, so I imagine a different approach was needed.
Otto: It is a simple fact that in Japan for long time jewellery directly worn on the body was hardly existing. Finger rings, bracelets, earrings, chains, necklaces and brooches were not known. The most popular exceptions were the Netzuke and the Kanzashi, the traditional ornamental hairpin. Many of the information usually imbedded in jewellery was instead integrated in the garment, be it in the Kimono or the armour of a samurai, to mention only two samples. But this is only a simplified consideration and times have also changed.
But it is also a fact that in Japan one of the three sacred treasures, of the Imperial Regalia, is a pendant named Magatama. It is not only a strong and beautiful object but also a piece of jewellery with a complex symbolic meaning. You even got your own jewel making deity in Japan and I don’t hesitate to assume that the people of Japan must receive a big love for jewellery already with their mother’s milk. I trust that you will one day discover what you have inherited, jewellery must be your second nature, actually you love jewellery and you should all wear jewellery like mad. Nowadays wearing jewellery is indeed very popular and common in Japan.

Sumi worn by Mari Iwamoto, 2008, ink, silk. This pendant made of a Japanese ink block ‘sumi’ is indeed very sensitive to humidity. If worn in the rain it may create a big mess on your dress, which could also be considered as coincidental calligraphy. Photo: Miriam Künzli.


Can you talk about some of the new works for Tokyo?
Otto: I was part of a group exhibition at this museum in 1994 and already then I fell in love with the Winter Garden. For a long time it has been my dream to exhibit in this room with its black and white chessboard like tiled floor and walls but ironically it is closed now because of new safety regulations. But despite the strange circumstances I show now in this room ‘I made it – you name it’. It is for the first time on display and the visitors can see the installation only via a webcam on a screen in the remarkable bathroom of Prince Asaka on the second floor.
When I started the series ‘I made it – You name it’ I thought of chessmen, of heroes, of fighters, of loser, of manga characters, of humans, of friends, of figures, of faces, of spirits, of ghosts, of skulls, of you and of me. I wanted to make a kind of ‘no name faces’ hanging not so far bellow of a real individual human face. You could call them simply “heads without qualities”. When they were made, carved from black jet and white ‘meerschaum’, the question was where to put the ring for the cord or chain. I wondered if the heads should be worn upside down so that the wearer can enjoy them when looking down or the other way around, straight up so that rather the person opposite can frontally watching the face. It was the first time that I hesitated to make such a decision and even questioned if they all need to become pendants. Why not leaving it up to the potential future owner? Just as it is up to everybody to read the expression of the faces and to interpret the personalities of each character. And then I thought why should I narrow this down by giving it an interpretive name and to establish its function? For once people should have the freedom to name it and to use it as they want. And that is how I came up with the title: ‘I made it – You name it’.

I made it – You name it 2014-15 exhibited in the Winter Garden. Gagat, Meerschaum (Sepiolite). Photo: Otto Künzli.

You worked with the video artist, Daisuke Yamashiro1. He used your ‘π’ pendant and made the video Life in Pi.
Otto: This collaboration was suggested by Seki-san and it turned out being a great experience! I saw the video ‘Endless box’ by Daisuke Yamashiro commissioned by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (MOT) and produced in close collaboration with the Japanese artist Mieko Shiomi. It is a fantastic and strong video and I immediately knew this is the right person to work with. That is how the collaboration started. We discussed several options but quite quickly focussed on the pendant ‘π. Because of the absolute reflective quality of its surface, the visual appearance of this piece is permanently constituted by its surrounding. Somehow it is the most impersonal, anonymous piece I have ever made, I did not even touch it during the entire fabricating process and now literarily everything can be seen in this piece. We spent several days filming but the final video was totally up to Yamashiro-san. The result is minimalistic and clear yet full of life, sound and even music. It is conceptual and poetic at once. Life in Pi became somehow Yamashiro-san’s diary.

Life in Pi  2015, Video: Daisuke Yamashiro. Video still.

There is also a new installation work entitled ‘Tsuki to Hi’ (The moon and sun).
Otto: When I was reading the novel ‘The Buddha in the Attic’ by Julie Otsuka I wondered at a scene where two Japanese women are on their way to America in a steamboat. They worry about their future. And in that conversation, one of them asks “Is it true that in America the opposite of white is not red?” I was shocked: “How could it be? Twenty years coming to Japan and I never heard of this?” I started my research. For me it had been an unshakable fact that light and darkness was represented by white and black, and when transformed in a symbolic and poetic language gold as the most reflecting and only yellow and precious metal was the perfect materialisation of light. It has been after all for good reason used in most cultures to represent the sun and the celestial, the eternal and the divine. And now I learned about ‘Tsuki to Hi’, night and day being represented by the moon and the sun and therefore by white and red! And that is how all on a sudden my perspective of the Japanese aesthetics changed. I immediately recognised that I needed to make a new and different version of ‘Content I and II’, the two showcases with the glass covered from inside with gold leaf and black soot which was originally made for my solo exhibition in Glasgow in 1992 and now remade and exhibited in the North Verandah. For the new interpretation I used two small dome shaped glass cases and typical Japanese pigments, cinnabar and gofun shirayuki to paint them from inside red and white. And the perfect location was indeed in the Tokonoma, the attic of the Small Dining Room, the only room in the Residence in a Japanese style.

Content I+II 2015, remake of the similar installation in the Kelvingrove Art Museum Glasgow 1992 by using historic showcases from the Tokyo Museum of Calligraphy. Wood, glass, soot, gold leaf. Photo: Otto Künzli.

Tsuki to Hi (Moon and Sun) 2015. Installation in the attic of the Small Dinning Room. Glass, cinnabar, gofun-shirayuki, wood, lacquer. Photo: Otto Künzli.

And there is another work, ‘Kagami’ (mirror) which you mentioned is “of identical concentration and intensity” as ‘Chain’.
Otto: From all my pieces this is the one with the strongest connection with Japan. A friend of mine prepared the ground by asking me if I could make a Japanese version of the ‘Chain’. The reason for that was the desire to create a piece that the Japanese audience could identify itself with in such a strong way as European do when being confronted with the ‘Chain’. My personal experience when making the ‘Chain’ was very essential and substantial, even extreme, so I could not imagine repeating it. But at a certain stage, I started to investigate how a Tokyo - or Nihon chain would actually look like? ‘Chain’ is so strong because of the accumulation of stories and of history imbedded in the used golden wedding bands. I found out that in Japan, wearing wedding rings is not very accustomed and if, most of the rings would not have been really worn for long, some young people even see in the rings rather an accessory for the ‘western part’2 of the wedding ceremony and they bring the rings shortly afterwards to the pawnbroker. So, the long time accumulation of history will scarcely happen.  
Instead of a ‘new’ chain I was looking for other objects with very strong connections – not necessarily with a couple – but with the single individual person.
I ended up with the personal seal, the ‘inkan’. It is used by its owner all life long in a similar way as we use our hand signature. What happens to it after somebody passes away? There is a personal attachment and also an accumulation of time, of the grime from the hands. I was told that the seals are kept in the family. It became clear that I cannot acquire and use the real seals.

Kagami 2014-15, pendant, binchōtan, urushi (Japanese charcoal and lacquer), Second Floor Hall. Kagami is the Japanese name for mirror. Binchōtan is extremely dense and hard and can be polished. This side of the pendant is plane and empty but you can dimly recognise yourself. Photo: Otto Künzli.

How did you make it into a piece of jewellery when you cannot use the actual objects?
Otto: There are these rare and often surprising moments when it all comes together. I have a fascination for mirrors and I knew that a mirror is one of the sacred objects in Shintoism and a symbol for transcendence. Binchotan, the extremely dense and hard Japanese charcoal was another element for the puzzle. The wood of the Ubame oak has been transformed, cleansed and purified by the fire. It is still porous like a sponge, a filter. And you can actually polish this charcoal very nicely. From 25 small squares I built a larger square of 10 by 10 cm as a pendant. One side is blank and you can recognise the reflection of your silhouette in the polished surface. On the other side in every field was the print of one Japanese stamp placed by using red urushi, the Japanese lacquer, and applied by the urushi master Murose Kazumi. 25 stamps by 25 people who have walked the path of life to the end. They too have been cleansed, purified by the fire and are now on the other side of the mirror. Strongly linked with our world, with us, through the capillaries of the charcoal.

On the other side of the Kagami pendant are 25 seals imprinted in urushi, from 25 people who have passed away. A collaboration piece with Murose-sensei. Photo: Otto Künzli.

You call yourself goldsmith but it is also well known that you use a lot of various materials. It is clear even by looking at a single piece such as ‘Kagami’ you just mentioned.
Otto: I am a goldsmith because that is what I have learned, it is my profession. I am an artist because what I make is art and it is my passion.
Goldsmithing is based on metallurgy and therefore only a few thousands years old. But it is highly refined, developed, ingenious and sophisticated. One could consider it as the core, the heart, the pièce de resistance of jewellery. At the other hand jewellery as such is at least 100,000 years old. A few shells with tiny holes and once thread on a cord, are considered being the earliest evidence of symbolic expression of mankind. ‘The storage of information outside of the human brain’, as scientists call it, was connected with the waking up and the growth of our self-awareness. The roots of jewellery go straight back to the very beginning of human culture.
Why should I limit myself to materials ‘allowed’ by the guild or appreciated by certain parts of the society only. Why should I dedicate my life to only part of something when the entire phenomenon is so much more complex, rich, diverse, deep, old and unfathomable. Jewellery has to offer me so much more than goldsmithing does. And since goldsmithing is part of jewellery it is still and always available to me. 
It is my freedom to use what every material, technic and fabrication process appropriate to express what is on my mind. I do what I want to do. It is indeed also my risk and my responsibility.

That is ‘why jewellery’?
Otto: Yes, that is why I after all became more interested in jewellery then in goldsmithing. I try to answer ‘why jewellery’ by making good jewellery.

Komainu is a new series of brooches (2015) inspired by the bronze guardian lions (mainly their curly hair) outside the entrance of the museum. The Komainu ward off evil spirits. The association with amulets is obvious. Komainu IV is made of mild steel and represents the reincarnation of a Komainu as a cloud. Photos: Otto Künzli.

The brooch Komainu II 2015, is carved of basswood and painted with pigment. The spiral is combined with the typical shape of a Fukidashi, the speech balloon common in manga. Photo: Otto Künzli.

Komainu VII, brass, silver gold-plated, wig. For the internal Komainu, the museums guardian and staff members I made 20 small Komainu brooches as a gift. They enjoyed wearing them during the exhibition. Photo: Otto Künzli.

Komainu VII worn by two of the museums guardians. The turquoise coquettish and neat brush is taken from a cosplay wig for Hatsune Miku, a virtual reality character that I had bought in Akihabara. Photo: Otto Künzli.


Jewellery always entails  'wearing' but how do you see it? What does wearing mean to you?
Otto: Seki-san puts an interesting spotlight on the very specific and unique quality of jewellery, a kind of conclusion, in his text ‘Wearing art’ in the Tokyo book3 and with pleasure I quote him here: “Looking back, we realize that the works of art we call masterpieces also produce conversation and debate. In other words, they strike us in ways that make us want to talk about them with someone else. That could be one of the necessary conditions of outstanding art. Jewellery moves with its wearer; where they go, they go together. Because the wearer as well as the jewellery is present, a place of communication is created. When jewellery and its wearer enter a situation things change in unplanned ways. That gives jewellery a dynamism not found in other arts. (…) Attaching a work of art to oneself is more than simply decoration, It means to participate in the work itself. Thus, these works point not to the jewellery itself, but to the feelings they arouse, the gaze that others turn to one self, to conversations. It is all of these things.”
I like that Seki puts emphasis on the communicational qualities of wearing jewellery.  One of my lectures is entitled: ‘Jewellery: Born to be worn or Lost in showcases?’. For me there is no doubt, worn is the best. Life is life. But the pieces of jewellery we make can also be enjoyed and looked at contemplatively as objects, can be collected if people like to do so. One established and well working way to introduce our works to the public is exhibiting. If we do that we should take care of it and use all our creativity to do it in an intelligent, convincing and attracting way. The reason why it needs extra effort is obvious: the wearer is missing and you cannot hang the pieces on a nail like a painting or put it on the floor like a sculpture.

Fux worn by Frederik Linke (2010, MDF, silicate mineral paint ‘Falun Red’, cord). The passage between the residence and the annex building was the ideal location for the two large photo prints Sumi and Fux. Photo: Miriam Künzli.

Speaking of young generations, what do you expect from younger generations?
Otto: Passion, commitment, love and very important endurance. Taking risks, getting crazy, accept mistakes, do forbidden things.
I have no BA, MA and no PhD. And I don’t miss it. Schoolish curriculums and art don’t match well. Politics and the economy try to squeeze us in a globalised education system. A system developed to cut the cost for education, to make new generation faster available for the “market”. To produce compatible, employable, exchangeable human material. A process that eliminates the diversity of education instead of supporting individuality, creativity and experience. This is my personal conviction, but I am not alone! We don’t need Dr Schmuck. And we don’t need those spooky smeary ‘holders’ of the prerogative of interpretation. I hate Jewellery Theorists but I love Jewellery Terrorists. I love art and I hope you too.

The Big Family 2015. The visitors were invited to participate in the creation of a large imaginary string of pearls by depositing small round pearl-like objects. The installation in the Salon created a lot of communication. The visitors enjoyed it and finally put on the table “all sort of things”. Photos: Otto Künzli (top) and Miriam Künzli (bottom).

You sound as if you are against theories...are they not needed?
Otto: It is necessary to step once in a while back, to be self critical. It is important to reflect your own work and it is challenging to develop the capability to discuss your work. In many cases it is helpful but it is not a priority. Nowadays we are all pushed to write about our own jewellery and give lectures…and to speak and to explain everything. If you like doing that, give it a try. And if than try to find your own words your own lively and authentic expression. To expect from every single artist to explain in an academic sense hers/his own work is sick. Some of the best artists I know don’t give lectures and don’t talk much about their work and don’t give all these interviews… I love and respect them for what they make.
By the way, some of my best friends are, beside many artists, great philosophers, art historian, writer, curators and theorists. Don’t mistake, I love them and I am aware of their important contribution.

Gallery 1. Visitors in front of the wall piece Good Morning America 1992. It shows the American banner behind a mirror with 50 holes in the diameter of the M60 machine gun bullets.


Same for students?
Otto: In young years I was a bad boy and on top of it a very bad schoolboy and writing was the worst. Through learning by doing I actually enjoy writing by now. All life long I followed one of my few principles: Imagine the opposite. Maybe you are very good in what you always thought you are very bad.
We live in this globalized terrible world where all accounts to quick financial success but I wish the students to be patient and to accept that certain things need time. You may not like to hear that but it is true. The first ten years of my work occupies in my book only a few pages. I call it my pre-work. Please enjoy every single day of all these first ten years. It is the time you fill up your backpack to the rim. It is the most precious time and you will profit from the harvest for the rest of your life.  Learn and take advantage of the teachers and masters as much as you can. But avoid leaders. They tend to seduce you, to lead and control you. It is easy to admire somebody and to step in worn out paths. To copy may be for once good fun and you can always learn something but it is a dead end. Already the first day when studying with me I told my students, from today on you are my new young colleagues on eye level. And I told them again and again my other principle – ‘Don’t follow me - follow yourself.’
And that was what I was interested in when ‘teaching’ at the Munich Fine Art Academy, to support my students in finding and developing their own way.

Gallery 1 with early minimal brooches from the seventies on paper strips representing the human body. Remake of a 1979 installation. Photo: Otto Künzli.

Gallery 1 with The New Flag 1992, a proposal for a new banner for the U.S.A. and on the lower end the screen with the video Life in Pi 2015 by Daisuke Yamashiro. Photo: Otto Künzli.

Otto, is there anything else you would like to talk about?
Otto: It is endless but it has to come to an end.
But I really want to express with pleasure my gratefulness to the many people who have made this travelling exhibition possible. The list is long I keep it short.
Die Neues Sammlung – The International Design Museum in the Pinakothek der Moderne Munich, Germany.  The mudac - Musée de design et d'arts appliqués contemporains in Lausanne, Switzerland.
And the dream-team of the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan: thanks to the chief-curator Seki-san, the curator Tanaka-san and the intern Araki-san. Thank you Yamashiro-san and Murose-sensei.
Thank you Therese.

And thank you Akiyama-san for the interview.

The Tokyo Dream-Team. From left: Intern Yui Araki, Curator Masako Tanaka, Otto Künzli, Chief Curator Akio Seki. Photo: Miriam Künzli.

The exhibition closed down on the 27th of December 2015 and a total number of 34,492 visitors got recorded.

‘Teien’ is the Japanese word for garden and the Teien Museum is actually embedded in a wonderful large garden with huge splendid trees. In one of them I placed a pair of shiny golden spheres like bird eggs or eyes or balls entitled Ausblick (Outlook) 1990. Photo: Otto Künzli.


1: Daisuke Yamashiro’s website:
2: It is common for couples to do both traditional Shinto-style and modern Western-style ceremonies for their wedding in Japan.
3:  I made it - You name it: Exhibition catalogue of Otto Künzli. The exhibition at Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum with texts in Japanese and English by Akio Seki, Petra Hölscher, Masako Tanaka and Otto Künzli. 288 pages, 329 images (including new pieces and installations), 21 x 15 cm, Geijutsu Shinbunsha Co., Ltd. 2015, ISBN 978-4-7586-479-0

Translation assistance: David Kracker

>> Japanese Version Text


About the author

Makiko Akiyama. Writer and translator. Born in 1979 in Osaka, Japan. In 2013 launched a newsletter for Japanese readers featuring translated articles about art jewelry. Contributing writer for klimt02, CURRENT OBSESSION, Art Jewelry Forum, and Norwegian Crafts. Contact: