The Shiseido Gallery, which opened its doors in 1919, is said to be the oldest art gallery still operating in Japan. Since then, the gallery has pursued its non-profit activities, closing only occasionally due to earthquakes, war, reconstruction, and other challenges. Dedicated to the ideal of “discovering and creating new ideas” to date, the Shiseido Gallery has hosted over 3,100 exhibitions, many of which served as the public debut for ascending talents who would later make major contributions to the course of Japanese art.




Les Parfums Japonais

November 2 (Wed) – December 25 (Sun), 2016

The Shiseido Gallery is pleased to announce that it will host an exhibition of Shiseido perfume bottles titled “Les Parfums Japonais — A Century of Perfume Design” from November 2 (Wed) through December 25 (Sun), 2016. This exhibition, which focuses on Shiseido’s bid to create “products as art,” is part of the fourth installment of Shiseido’s “Beauty Crossing Ginza”* cultural dispatch project. *Beauty Crossing Ginza is a program begun in 2016 to dispatch cultural information on particular themes from four of Shiseido’s Ginza-located properties, including the Ginza Communication Space, the Shiseido Gallery, the Shiseido Parlour, and Shiseido The Ginza.

By the late 1910s Shiseido had launched its cosmetics business, and its first president, Shinzo Fukuhara, set his sights on the goal of producing original Japanese perfumes which would be in no way inferior to their European counterparts, and which would even “raise perfuming to the level of art” then at an epoch of reverence for Parisian culture. Fukuhara always had in mind to pursue business alongside art, and his own stated philosophy as a cosmetics maker was to create “products as art.” In terms of the business of manufacturing cosmetics, he worked hard to understand European culture and used this as sustenance for developing a specifically Japanese line of products based on a distinctly Japanese aesthetic and attention to detail. This spirit of “products as art” is continued in Shiseido product development efforts even today.

This exhibition includes a selection of French perfume bottles representative of the Parisian artistic culture that appealed so strongly to Shinzo Fukuhara, along with about fifty examples of Shiseido perfume bottles, from early ones Fukuhara himself had a hand in designing to numerous others from the subsequent decades through to the present, all showing how that original spirit of “products as art” has been maintained throughout.

French perfume bottles, including notably those designed by glass artist René Lalique, can be seen here offering the kind of European tone that Shiseido was aiming for in the early years. Pre-war bottles for Shiseido perfumes like “Ume” (“Plum”) and “Serenade” show unique and rich designs distinct from European bottles of the time. Exhibiting these along with more contemporary creations of Shiseido bottle designers gives a good sense of the unique design sensibilities that the company has long pursued.

The gallery space will also host interactive installations in collaboration with the art/design group “plaplax,” an exploration of the appeal of perfume bottles that turns the entire gallery space into a place to enjoy the richness and depth of perfume bottles.

Other events happening simultaneously include an exhibit of about fifty Shiseido perfume bottles from the post-war era to the present at the Shiseido Ginza Building (Ginza Communication Space), an exhibit of perfume bottles by Serge Lutens at Shiseido The Ginza, and a display of the special perfume flasks gifted to recipients of the Hanatsubaki Award for Contemporary Poetry at the Shiseido Parlour (in the Tokyo Ginza Shiseido Building).

Go to Shiseido Gallery Official Website (English)