Study traditional Japanese craft techniques, apply those techniques to contemporary product design and have the opportunity to have your product manufactured and distributed globally by MoMA Wholesale.


SVA Made in Yame (pronounced YAH-may) is an intensive two-week SVA Destinations Summer program from June 14-27, 2020 that provides product designers with hands-on exposure to the traditional craft techniques of Japan and gives them an opportunity to get their own designs on the market.

The program provides an intimate, hands-on way of studying materials, form, color and product design technique through the lens of traditional Japanese craftwork.

Students will visit the factories and workshops of over a dozen traditional crafts, including woodworking, lacquerware, textile weaving, lantern making and more. They will be exposed to the nuances of the craft processes and how materials are carefully selected and manipulated for production. Simultaneously, they will learn how traditional Japanese culture informed the development of these crafts and products and how the crafts and products in turn informed traditional Japanese culture. Students will then be asked to explore contemporary forms and products using the tools and techniques to which they have been exposed.

SVA Made in Yame is open to all applicants, not just SVA students.



introduction to japan in fukuoka city (2 days)


Craft research and sketching in yame (6 days)


Inspirational FIELD trip (1 day)


Design refinement in Yame (5 days)


MoMA Wholesale

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SVA is proud to continue its partnership with MoMA Wholesale. 

Upon completion of the program, participants' finished product prototypes will be returned to New York City and shown to the buyers at the Museum of Modern Art’s product division, MoMA Wholesale. In its partnership with the SVA MFA Products of Design, MoMA Wholesale has had five successful years of producing select designs by SVA students. SVA Made in Yame extends that partnership to include contemporary products influenced by traditional Japanese craft. Chosen designs will be licensed by MoMA Wholesale and distributed to retail outlets globally.


Why Yame?


Yame is home to a remarkable concentration of traditional Japanese crafts.

Yame is a small, rural city on the Western island of Kyushu, located one hour from Fukuoka City, the fifth largest and fastest growing city in Japan. Best known for its green tea, Yame is relatively untouched by tourism or large retail and quietly exemplifies the coexistence of traditional and contemporary Japanese culture. Yame provides a unique context in which to practice translating Japanese crafts and forms into contemporary product designs.

SVA Made in Yame takes designers deep into the workshops and techniques of over a dozen crafts and invites them to create their own designs using the same materials and techniques.


Butsudan Making & Fine Carpentry


Lacquer Work


Gold Leafing


Metalsmithing & Copper Engraving


Maki-e & Urushi Painting


Washi Paper Making


Paper & Silk Lantern Making


Bow & Arrow Making


Wood Turning / Spinning Top Making


Basket Weaving


Kasuri Textile Weaving


Stone Work


The Team


Our team consists of designers, crafts people, liaisons and interpreters.

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Sinclair Smith

Program Director

Sinclair is an industrial designer, a founding faculty member of SVA's MFA in Products of Design and the director of the SVA GroundFloor Incubator for SVA alumni start-ups. His studio, Sinclair Smith & Co., has provided product and interior design services for clients including Disney, This American Life, DKNY, Staple Design, Amex, BMW and Samsung. He holds a BFA in film production from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and a masters of industrial design from Pratt Institute.


Mizuho Kato

Program Liaison

Mizuho is a freelance publicist with experience in PR for professional sports associations, including Japan Professional Football League and major Japanese television stations such as TV Asahi. She currently specializes in promoting and reviving local craft traditions and economies and creating local movements that regain civic pride. Mizuho serves as a board member for an intellectual property law firm, allowing her to protect the IP of traditional craftspeople and expand their scope of business.


Manako Tamura


Having spent half of her life in Japan and the other in the US, Manako is a bilingual and bi-cultural designer. She brings her personal experience in multicultural upbringing and her background in anthropology to her design work. After receiving her BA in anthropology from Reed College, Manako worked in supply chain management for a major Japanese chemical company Toray Industries, and in marketing for an Italian furniture manufacturer Kartell. She holds an MFA in Products of Design from School of Visual Arts, and is currently based in New York City.

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Kenichi Konomi


Kenichi runs Yabeya Konomi Honke, the oldest tea wholesaler in Kyushu, founded by Jinshiro Konomi in 1704. For centuries, the Konomi family has played a central role in Yame City and Kenichi carries the tradition of preserving the land along with the tea production. He continues to improve the quality of Yame tea blend and promote its cultural aspect for generations to come. The Japanese government certified Konomi Honke as an authentic brand in Japan and it is sold on Shinkansen (aka “the bullet train”).


Yoshitaka Jogo


Yoshitaka went through lacquer apprenticeship training after graduating from college in Kiso. In Yame, he works as a lacquer craftsman and serves as the vice chairman of Yame Fukushima Butsudan Union and the leader of a Union which consists of altar craftsmen in the Yame area. The altar style is called “Yame Fukushima Butsudan” and is designated by the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry as a national traditional craft. Yoshitaka has developed and manufactured original speakers with contemporary and innovative designs, incorporating traditional lacquer and gold foil press techniques.


Kaz Kinoshita


Hailing from the Kinoshita family that runs Kitaya Sake Brewery, a two-hundred-year-old institiution in Yame, Kaz was born to be an ambassador for Japanese food culture. He has worked as a sake sommelier in one of Singapore’s most renowned Japanese restaurants and helped popularized sake in New York City’s dining scene. Leveraging his international experience, he now holds promotional events for hard-to-find craft sakes throughout Japan and internationally to educate the public on the art of sake.





Apply to be a part of the 2020 program!