Where Art and Design Meet: The Couple Breathing Life Back into Blown Glass


©Wada Tomoko

Baku Takahashi and Tomoko Wada are more than just a married couple, the pair are also working partners. Together, they have launched the brand Toumei, specialising in blown glass creations. Toumei, which means ‘transparent’ in Japanese, offers a selection of colourful, striking pieces ranging from the functional (for example their vases) to the simply decorative. It’s for this very reason that Toumei, dabbling in both art and design, is often seen as a hybrid brand.

The pair of thirty-somethings, who met at Tama Art University in Tokyo, conceive, design and produce all of their creations themselves. Toumei, created when they were both 27 years old, doesn’t just bring together their ideas: it fuses them. It’s pretty much impossible to tell which pieces are by Baku Takahashi and which pieces are by Tomoko Wada.

What interests Tomoko Wada is playing with transparency and pared down forms. She creates glass blocks into which raw elements- such as branches of trees or flowers- can be integrated. Her husband on the other hand fashions the glass into small, translucent pieces in statement colours and innovative forms. His pieces have often been compared to sweets.

Regardless of these disparities, the pair work hand in hand to achieve the pieces, and the work is undoubtedly complementary. Despite leaving the Tokyo art scene to settle in the southern prefecture of Fukuoka, the couple haven’t stopped attracting the attention of the world’s media. New York-based T Magazine, for example, has recently been singing their praises- above all for the quality and individuality of their work.

©Sho Kobayashi

©Wada Tomoko

©Wada Tomoko