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Misaki Kawai for Paddle8

Bazoombas and bananas inspire a collection of children's furniture

by James Thorne in Design on 09 May 2012

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The childlike work of Japanese artist Misaki Kawai shuns expertise, embracing "heta-uma", an anime-derived method that risks amateur aesthetics by embracing basic expression. Her approach provides a nice parallel to the world of squirming tikes, who brim with creativity but lack the motor skills of a master painter. Furry animals, banana chairs and whimsical snake benches make up "Love from Mt. Pom Pom", Kawai's ongoing exhibition at the Children's Museum of the Arts in NYC. In conjunction with the show, select furniture and decorative elements have just been made available for purchase from Paddle8 through 10 June 2012.

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Kawai employs painting, drawing, sculpture and video in her site-specific show, bringing her signature playful stylings to the museum space. The exhibition functions as a play area for museum-goers, encouraging interactive engagement from children. As part of the CMA exhibition, Kawai was able to hold workshops with students, teaching them a bit of her artistic method—a process-focused, hands-on approach that develops artistic instinct rather than traditional skills.

Highlights from the collection include an expandable, breast-themed "Bazoombas" bench and a less-than-terrifying green snake piece. Geometric color blocks and bold forms are in keeping with Kawai's other work, which walks the line between primitive abstractions and cartoon animation. The furniture, created by Brooklyn's Tri-Lox in collaboration with Take Ninagawa Gallery in Japan, is available from the online art store Paddle8 through 10 June, when both the sale and the exhibition at CMA will end. Proceeds from the sale go to benefit the CMA.

Children's Museum of the Arts
103 Charlton Street
New York, NY 10014

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