Daniel Arsham showcased his custom 1955 Porsche 356 Speedster that pays homage to the Japanese aesthetic concept, Wabi Sabi. Over the span of two years, the contemporary artist based in New York City has been restoring the nearly 70-year-old sports car. The result is the art car that reveals the vehicle’s age and wear and draws inspiration form Arsham’s reverence towards Japanese culture. The acceptance of ‘imperfection’ and finding peace in the natural processes of time can be seen in both the stripped-down raw metal exterior and the indigo-dyed interior of the 356 Bonsai.
The exterior of the 356 doesn’t have any paint and reveals all of the welds, pit marks, and natural wear over the course of time. A layer of linseed oil protects the raw metal from the elements, in accordance with original Japanese manufacturing processes. On the rear engine grille of the vehicle, Daniel Arsham has added a patinated bronze relief in the shape of a Bonsai tree.
The 356 Bonsai is fully drivable and includes the original numbered engine that has been restored to off-the-factory- floor level. For the technical works, Daniel Arsham collaborated with Willhoit Auto Restoration and the Bridgehampton Motoring Club.
Together with Japanese fashion designers Motofumi ‘Poggy’ Kogi and Yutaka Fujihara, the artist has outfitted the complete interior with traditional Japanese fabrics from boro patchwork to Japanese selvedge denim.
For the driver and passenger seat, along with the boot cover, these are made of indigo-dyed boro patchwork textiles. Alongside the boro, Arsham added more indigo-dyed cotton fabric garnished with sashiko-stitched lines on the door trim and edge of the seats. As the final fabric, Arsham and team produced a Japanese denim to upholster the roof, covering the car’s interior.
In the trunk, a Japanese tatami mat sits under the spare wheel in the luggage compartment. Made of rice straw, these mats are a classic element of Japanese architecture.
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