Villa Kujoyama, le dialogue de la création et des savoir-faire

For the eighth edition of Maison d’Exceptions, Villa Kujoyama and Première Vision pay tribute to the virtuosity of Japanese know-how and exhibit 5 research projects related to textiles, developed by French artists and designers between 2015 and 2018 during their residency at Villa Kujoyama in Kyoto.



Violaine Blaise © New Wave Prod, 2019_1_BD

Violaine Blaise © New Wave Prod

Martine Rey © New Wave Prod, 2019_1_BD

Martine Rey © New Wave Prod

A duo, Pauline Abascal & Kanako Kajihara, and four independent artists, Violaine Blaise, Martine Rey, Sandrine Rozier and Aurore Thibout, present the results of their research developed in collaboration with Japanese craftsmen, manufacturers or masters of art. Whether it is textile design in the broadest sense of the word, a long-lost fine gold technique (Inkin), a new adaptation of lacquering to fabrics or even natural dyes: each of these approaches is applied to textile research and showcases the dialogue between aesthetic requirements and technical virtuosity.

On the archipelago, craftsmanship is elevated to the rank of cult: Japanese masters of art are revered as demigods and considered as true Living National Treasures (Ningen Kokuhō) by the Japanese state, which encourages them to immortalize their know-how by passing it on to future generations. Minutiae, precision and minimalist aesthetics have made the worldwide reputation of the Japanese culture, capable of transcending any material – ceramic, wood, metal, textile… – through processes that are often centuries old and specific to the particularities of each region or each village. Japan is thus a country with countless technical practices that are being challenged to reinvent themselves in today’s ever-changing world.

Villa Kujoyama is an establishment part of the cultural cooperation network of the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs. It is operated by the French Institute of Japan and is supported by its main patron the Bettencourt Schueller Foundation, as well as by the French Institute. Since its creation in 1992, it has hosted several hundred residencies of French artists and designers, with the aim of encouraging creativity through the convergence of the French and Japanese cultures. In 2014, thanks to the support of the Bettencourt Schueller Foundation, its residency program was extended to Franco-Japanese duos and arts and crafts, and since then it has welcomed initiatives that focused on technical exploration as well.

Maison d’Exceptions also celebrates each year the dialogue between technology and creation, applied to the fields of fashion. The space organized within the Première Vision Paris trade show offers the opportunity for singular workshops from all over the world, selected for their technical virtuosity, to interact with the studios of luxury brands and international designers. This unique initiative effectively fosters alternative manufacturing approaches and production methods that diverge from industry standards. Since the launch of Maison d’Exceptions in 2011, Japanese know-how have always been largely represented and for the first time, thanks to Villa Kujoyama, the space is hosting an exhibition that extends its connection with Japanese know-how. Examples include Tamiya Raden, a workshop that excels in the weaving of mother-of-pearl textiles, and which collaborated with artist Aurore Thibout during her residency at Villa Kujoyama in 2015; or Okujun, a master spinner and weaver of Yuki Tsumugi silk, a remarkable technique featured in UNESCO’s list of intangible cultural heritage. The sustainability of traditional techniques depends both on their ability to reinvent themselves in contact with contemporary creation and on their ability to engage in a dialogue within a multicultural context: these two points define the common feature between the research projects of Villa Kujoyama residents and the work of the ateliers presented in the Maison d’Exceptions space.


Aurore Thibout © New Wave Prod, 2019_1_BD

Aurore Thibout © New Wave Prod


Martine Rey © New Wave Prod, 2019_2_BD

Martine Rey © New Wave Prod

Today, the revalorization of know-how is an integral part of a strategy that is largely shared by the key players in the world of creation, brands or institutions alike. Whether it is investing in the takeover of ateliers in order to guarantee their sustainability, as the Hermès, Chanel or LVMH groups in particular are doing, or developing programs to support training and the transmission of know-how by creating internal schools like Valentino in Rome or the School of Jewelry Arts supported by Van Cleef & Arpels in Paris, there is an ever-growing number of patronage initiatives.

Many private foundations, for example the Bettencourt Schueller Foundation or the Banque Populaire Foundation, award prizes and grants to masters of art and designers or also help to promote exceptional crafts through the organisation of exhibitions that contribute to the diffusion of the variety and diversity of creative techniques, such as the Michelangelo Foundation and the Homo Faber exhibition held in autumn 2018 in Venice, or the Révélations show, held at the Grand Palais in Paris by Ateliers d’art de France. Initiatives of all types are under way and are promising a renaissance and a long life to exceptional know-how.



Violaine Blaise © New Wave Prod, 2019_2_BD

Violaine Blaise © New Wave Prod

Aurore Thibout © New Wave Prod, 2019_2_BD

Aurore Thibout © New Wave Prod

Scenography of the Villa Kujoyama area designed by Mathilde VALLANTIN DULAC

Additional events programme

An additional programme of events around Paris has been organised during the show:

– Conference by Sandrine Rozier at ENSAD, Tuesday 12th February at 6pm in partnership with INHA and ENSAAMA
– Performance by Aurore Thibout with Violaine Lochu at the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature, 13 February at 7:30pm.


Moderated by curators Charlotte Fouchet-Ishii, director of Villa Kujoyama, and Sumiko Oe-Gottini, an expert consultant to Villa Kujoyama, this roundtable will bring together 6 artists who will present their work and discuss their residencies. 

Kanako Kajihara x Pauline Abascal (2018): Presentation by the Franco-Japanese duo regarding the process of revalorising artisanal know-hows.

Aurore Thibout (2015):  The fashion designer will discuss her collaboration with Japanese artisans, an activity she has been pursuing since her residency in 2015.

Violaine Blaise (2017): This researcher and conservation professional specialised in textiles will present her website dedicated to transmitting the extraordinary ancestral technique of inkin fabrics (a manual technique of printing a motif in gold leaf on fabric).

Marine Rey (2018) and Sandrine Rozier (2018): A conversation between two residents, one specialising in lacquer, the other in vegetal dyeing. They will discuss their respective experiences and research at the Villa Kujoyama.

Wednesday 13 February at 2 pm – Hall 3 – Workshop and Conferences space.

Know more about Maison d’Exceptions HERE 

Access upon accreditation only – Fill in the form HERE


Article précédent 6 nouveaux Ateliers sur Maison d’Exceptions Article suivant Forum Sport & Tech : Happy performance !