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Renowned designer and dedicated table tennis fanatic Katsumi Asaba opens the exhibition “Sense of Humor” at 21_21 Design Sight with a bit of Nankin tamasudare (literally translated as Nanjing lily), a type of street performance in which a screen made from bamboo slats is twisted into surprising forms. Kicking off the show by donning a “funny” Chinese hat and bringing up Nanjing is unsettling, but OK, let’s see what happens.

A sate! A sate!” Asaba chants (it’s not really translatable, but might be akin to “hey!”), and through deft prestidigitation, the bamboo slats transform into a fishing rod, then a bridge and a halo. In keeping with the theme around which Asaba has gathered together work from various artists and designers from around the world, he comically fumbles a move and says “This is really difficult.”

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