photo: Takaaki Koshiba
photo: Takaaki Koshiba

Noriko Kawakami     


Design Journalist

Associate Director of 21_21 DESIGN SIGHT 


Noriko Kawakami undertakes interviewing, writing, project direction and design exhibition curation,

while also serving as lecturer at several universities.  

Guest professor in Department of Industrial, Interior and Craft Design, Musashino Art University.

Lecturer in Department of Scenography, Display and Fashion Design, Musashino Art University.

A Member of Board Directors of Tama Art University.



Link to 21_21 DESIGN SIGHT Information 







After an editorial career at AXIS design magazine from 1986 to 1994, Noriko Kawakami became an independent design journalist in 1994. For the next two years she participated in various Italian-Japanese design projects with the Domus Design Agency, serving as External Editorial Director of the Domus Academy Research Center.


Kawakami is author of many books, including Realising Design (TOTO Shuppan 2004), and

co-author (with Oki Sato of nendo) of Ura kara nozoke-ba omote ga mieru (Peeping at the Back to Reveal the Front) (Nikkei Business Publishing 2013) and Nippon Product (Bijutsu Shuppan-sha). She is also editor of Tendo Mokko (Bijutsu Shuppan-sha 2008).


Since 2007, Kawakami has been Associate Director of 21_21 DESIGN SIGHT, involved in co-planning of exhibitions alongside the museum's three Directors, Issey Miyake, Taku Satoh and Naoto Fukasawa. Preparations for opening the museum began in 2005.


Other curating work includes Japon Japonismes. Objets inspirés, 1867-2018,  at Musée des Arts Décoratifs,Paris, 2018-2019, and Curatorial Advisor for the official Japanese entry at the London Design Biennale 2016, entitled A Journey Around the Neighbourhood Globe, by the artist Yasuhiro Suzuki.  

She also co-curated Wa: The Spirit of Harmony and Japanese Design Today (2008) and Japanese Design Today 100 (2014), both commissioned by the Japan Foundation for worldwide tours.

LINK to Curatorial Work Photographs




Works of Lectures and Juries 


Kawakami is much sought-after as a guest speaker.  She is Guest Professor in Department of Industrial, Interior and Craft Design, and Lecturer in Department of Scenography, Display and Fashion Design,

Musashino Art University.  She is also Lecturer at Nagaoka Institute of Design, and at Kuwasawa Design School.

She is Special Lecturer in the Graduate School of System Design, Tokyo Metropolitan University.

She participants in numerous design lectures, round tables and talks for general audience. 


Kawakami is a member of various professional bodies, including the Architectural Institute of Japan, 

the Japanese Society of Social Psychology, and the Japanese Society for the Science of Design.

She is a council member for the Miyake Issey Foundation, a member of the Board Directors of Tama Art University.


Kawakami serves on juries of art, design and craft prizes, including: The GOOD DESIGN AWARDS  in Japan (2017, 2018, 2019, 2021, 2022, 2023).

Also serves on judging committees for design and art competitions, including : The James Dyson Award Japan Stage, from 2018. She served on selection committees for Tokyo Midtown Award Art Competitions (2016 to 2020) , and shiseido art egg award (2020). 




Recent Works



Noriko Kawakami curated the exhibition  Visionaries: Making Another Perspective  at Kyoto City Kyocera Museum of Art  (March 9 to June 4, 2023).



One of seven judges for Maison & Objet, Paris, Rising Talent Awards Japan, chaired by Kengo Kuma.

An Exhibition of the seven Japanese entrants will be held at Maison & Objet in March.


Editorial committee member for High School textbook Bijutsu 1 (Fine Art 1) , Mitsumura Tosho Publishing.



Participated in roundtable De l'artisanat traditionnel au design contemporain das part of

Festival de l'histoire de l'art held annuary at Chateau de Fontainebleau, by Institute national d 'histoire de l'art.

Information Link


Participated as interviewer for production of film for exhibition Tadanori Yokoo: The Artists, organized by Fondation Cartier pour l'art comtemporain, at 21_21 DESIGN SIGHT Gallery, 3 July - 17 October 2021.

Film direction: Noriaki Okamoto

Interviewed Tadanori Yokoo in his atelier.  Film Link

Interviewed Junya Ishigami, 21_21 DESIGN SIGHT Gallery 3.  Film Link

Interviewed Rinko Kawauchi,  21_21 DESIGN SIGHT Gallery 3.  Film Link


Editorial committee member for Junior High School textbook Bijutsu 1 (Fine Art 1) and Bijutsu 2・3(Fine Art 3), Mitsumura Tosho Publishing.


Interviewed Kazuyo Sejima for Hanatsubaki magazine, Shiseido.

Article Link  


Interviewed  Bijoy Jain, Studio Mumbai, for Hanatsubaki magazine, Shiseido.



Member of Selection Committee for Tokyo 2020 Official Art Posters Project.


Speaker at keynote discussion event on The Good Design Awards 2020.



Nominator for the Beazley Designs of theYear 2019 London Design Museum.


Delivered a lecture on notable projects on contemporary Japanese Design in Bangkok, 

organized by the Japan Foundation, Bangkok and the Design Thailand Creative & Design Center in May.


Talk Session with Ronan & Erwan Boullourec on their design for JINS Design Project, Tokyo in December.


Moderator for the talk sessions of Ryoko Ueyama with Tsuyoshi Tane and Satoshi Yoshiizumi of

TAKT Project, for the exhibition of Prospective Landscape: A retrospective. Drawing Exhibition 'Vortex'

Ryoko Ueyama & Collaborators at Architect's House Tokyo, October and November.


Speaker for the talk sessions with artists and designers on contemporary craft, for the exhibition of 

Loewe Foundation Craft Prize 2019 in Tokyo, June and July.


Speaker for the talk sessions with ASSEMBLE, for the exhibition of Granby Workshop: The Rules of

Production Shinzo Fukuhara / ASSEMBLE, THE EUGENE STUDIO Ⅱ at Shiseido Gallery in Tokyo, January.



Guest-curator of Japon Japonismes. Objets inspiré, 1867-2018 at Musée des Arts DécoratifsParis. 

Delivered a lecture on notable projects in contemporary Japanese Design and craft at 

Musée des Arts Décoratifs.


Nominator for the Beazley Designs of theYear 2018, London Design Museum.


Speaker for design seminar at Seoul Design Festival 2018.


Delivered lecture on notable contemporary Japanese design projects, 

organized by the Japan Foundation, Beijing, 



Delivered lecture on notable contemporary Japanese design projects,

organized by the Japan Foundation, Beijing.


Committee members of International Kogei Summit in TOYAMA.



Participated in official talk event at the London Design Biennale.


Participated in talk event with Makiko Minagawa and Tokujin Yoshioka,

for the MIYAKE ISSEY EXHIBITION, The Work of Miyake Issey at National Art Center Tokyo.


Delivered lectures on trends and background of Japanese Design,

organized by the Japan Foundation, November: Beijing; December: Guangzhou.




 Recent Writings


Iittala Journal #3, 2019, p.70 - p.75


Text for JINS Design Projects, booklets

Interviews with Jasper Morrison, Konstantin Grcic, Alberto Meda, Michele De Lucchi,

Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec. 


ART AUREA, 2016-1,  p.50 - p.55

Otto Künzli in Japan Photos by Miriam Künzli


AXIS,  vol.201, 2019, p.100 - p. 105

OTON GLASS & CuBoad  - Practical social implementation through an inquisitive stance


AXIS,  vol.191, 2018, p.90 - p 95

JINS Design Project with Jasper Morrison, Aiming for the ultimate standard.


AXIS,  vol.190, 2017, p.100 - p.105

Philippe Apeloig- Capturing the moment and instilling graphics with movement.


AXIS,  vol.188, 2017,  p.98 - p.103

Utilizing art and design to eliminate the gap between medical treatment spaces and daily life.  


Quotes from Realising Design, 2004, by Noriko Kawakami 

On young Japanese designers. 




Interviews with Noriko Kawakami 


Wochi Kochi magazine, published by the Japan Foundation, 2017 

with Mr. Yasuhiro Suzuki, artist, on his exhibition at the London Design Biennale 2016.


ICON DESIGN, Japanese Next Generation, July issue.Text by Minako Morita, 2019.


Highlighting Japanpublished by the Government of Japan, 2017.

Kawakami talks about 21_21 DESIGN SIGHT.


Art Space Tokyo,  2008

Kawakami talks about 21_21 DESIGN SIGHT.






New York Times article on exhibition 

directed  and curated by Noriko Kawakami together with Ikko Yokoyama at  21_21 DESIGN SIGHT.

LINK to the article 



ICON DESIGN                   Iittala Journal #3


ART AUREA          Beazley Designs of the Year Catalogue

A Journey Around the Neighbourhood Globe, Yasuhiro Suzuki, London Design Biennale 2016, photo: Yasuhiro Suzuki
A Journey Around the Neighbourhood Globe, Yasuhiro Suzuki, London Design Biennale 2016, photo: Yasuhiro Suzuki
photo:  The James Dyson Foundation
photo: The James Dyson Foundation