Mind & Matter


Japan Notebook: Plastic Anniversary

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Exhibition: Plastic's 100th Year Anniversary in Japan. Photo: Hiroshi Ota.

In 1907, Leo Baekeland developed Bakelite, the first thermoset plastic. In 1911, Sankyo Company offered the first commercially available Bakelite in Japan, and the Japanese plastics industry was officially launched. For the polymer's centennial anniversary, Sumitomo Bakelite Co.—inheritor of the patents from parent company Sankyo—sponsored an exhibit entitled "Plastic’s 100th Year Anniversary in Japan," which was held in Tokyo from December 22-25, 2011.

Architect and materials researcher Hiroshi Ota designed the exhibition in collaboration with curators Miki Fukuda and Yukiko Shikata, housing a collection of innovative plastic products and materials within a hexagonal plastic display structure with cells of varying scales. Although the exhibition only lasted four days, it received over 2,000 visitors—a testament to the continued adoration of polymers in this future-focused culture.



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About the Blogger

Blaine Brownell

thumbnail image Minnesota-based architect and author Blaine Brownell, AIA, is a self-defined materials researcher and sustainable building adviser. His "Product of the Week" emails and three volumes of Transmaterial (2006, 2008, 2010) provide designers with a steady flow of inspiration—a 21st-century Grammar of Ornament. Blaine has practiced architecture in Japan and the U.S. and has been published in more than 40 design, business, and science publications. The recipient of a Fulbright fellowship for 2006–07, he researched contemporary Japanese material innovations at the Tokyo University of Science. He currently teaches architecture and co-directs the M.S. in Sustainable Design program at the University of Minnesota. His book Matter in the Floating World was published by Princeton Architectural Press in 2011.