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Nippon Salone
Milano Expo

For Government of Japan

Experience Design, Curation

Milan, the city of design, hosted the World Expo in 2015. With the theme of "Feed the Earth, Energize Life," 140 countries and international organizations participated in the international expo, commonly known as Expo Milano. Not only the Expo site, where countries competed with each other for the most beautiful pavilions, but the entire city was bustling with activity, as if it were an event site.

In addition to the Japan Pavilion, Japan set up the "Japan Salone" in Palazzo Stelline, built in 1576. The Japan Salone was held to promote Japan to the general public and people involved in the food industry in Italy and neighboring countries in Europe, and to increase the presence of Japan by holding corporate advertisements, B to B business meetings, and B to C promotions, which cannot be held at the Expo site due to regulations.


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As the creative director of the Japan Salone, Konoe designed the logo for "Nippon Salone,". In order to transform the entire venue into a commercial space with the theme of Japanese food culture, he installed a giant curtain designed by him at the entrance gate. In addition, a Japanese artist  recognized for his installations using salt, curated the space in front of the entrance. The concept was to welcome the visitors to a large Japanese restaurant.


Customers are first greeted with a noren, which acts as a warding, and a heaping of salt. The noren is the first contact customers have with the restaurant. We decided to let customers enjoy the subtle color changes of the noren, which is made up of three layers, inspired by the ocean. The salt is pure white, purifying visitors, and making them aware that the place is sacred.

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The artist then invited Motoi Yamamoto, an artist who uses salt to create his work. Yamamoto's works are characterized by the process of creating huge mazes and swirling patterns on the floor. On the final day of the exhibition, a project was organized in which the artwork was destroyed together with the viewers and the salt was sent back to the sea. The Italians seemed to enjoy the process of tearing down the artworks.


Yamamoto was born in Hiroshima Prefecture in 1966 and graduated from Kanazawa School of Art in 1995. He lives in Kanazawa and has created works using salt, which has the significance of purification and sanctification. He has continued to exhibit his work at major museums in Japan and abroad, including MoMA PS1, the Hermitage Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo and the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa.


In his opening speech at the Nippon Salone, Yamamoto tells: 'Italian food is the most consumed foreign cuisine in Japan, and recently Italians have become more familiar with Japanese food. We are now in an era where we can exchange cultures through food. I hope that we can further deepen our understanding of each other". It is not Marco Polo's Zipangu, but the Italians must have discovered a new Japan through Yamamoto's giant salt works.

A video explaining Yamamoto and his work was also made and displayed at the exhibition.

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Directing this project has been a honor for Konoe, as he was born into a Japanese clan that existed for more than 1,400 years and raised in Europe. It was the perfect environment to showcase his childhood experience of "how to convey Japan to foreigners". 
The Japan Salone was organized by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), the Cabinet Office, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC), the Japan Tourism Agency (JTA), the Japan National Tourism Organisation (JNTO) and the Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO), and attracted over 30 000 visitors during the event.

Working for the Japanese Government was a mission with a great deal of responsibility, however, it was a privilege to work with such a wonderful team. Once again, we would like to express our sincere gratitude to all those involved in this project.

Reference: Motoi Yamamoto
Contemporary artist Motoi Yamamoto

Logo design by JC Spark & Dentsu

Creative Director & Calligraphy: Tadahiro Konoe

Client: Dentsu

Official Website:

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