Dr Yuko Kikuchi

Profile image of Member of TrAIN (Transnational Art Identity and Nation)

Member of TrAIN (Transnational Art Identity and Nation)

Camberwell, Chelsea, Wimbledon


Dr Yuko Kikuchi was born in Tokyo and educated in Japan, the USA and UK. After completing a BA in English and American Literature and an MA in American Studies, she worked at the School of East Asian Studies, University of Sheffield as a Modern Japanese Studies specialist.

She joined University of the Arts London in 1994 to complete a PhD on the Mingei movement and is currently teaching MA courses, supervising research students and conducting research as a core member of TrAIN (Transnational Art Identity and Nation) in her capacity as a specialist in design histories and design studies.

Research interests

Modernities in art and design in East Asia, with particular interest in how phenomena informed by local specificities could engage with academia in Euroamerica.

Research statement

My research is on modernities in art and design in East Asia, with particular interest in how phenomena informed by local specificities could engage with academia in Euroamerica. My key publications have been on the Japanese and transnational Mingei movement (Japanese Modernisation and Mingei Theory: Cultural Nationalism and Oriental Orientalism (2004), and on modernities in colonial Taiwan - Refracted Modernity: Visual Culture and Identity in Colonial Taiwan (2007). The latter developed through the international design history project, ‘“Oriental” Modernity: Modern Design Development in East Asia, 1920–90’, which investigated the regional and inter-regional development of modern design in Japan, Korea, and China/Taiwan/Hong Kong.

As an editorial board member of the Journal of Design History, I am passionate about creating a transnational framework for design histories and studies. Recently, I have expanded my scope to South- East Asia (Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand) through my investigation into American design intervention in Asia during the Cold War period, looking particularly at the case of Russel Wright. This research examines the continuity from the European colonial construction of ‘vernacular/national’ handicrafts in the pre-WWII period, to the post-war American intervention which eventually developed into the contemporary subjectivity of the locals.


Current students & thesis titles

Stephanie Cheung, Participation in Contemporary Chinese Art.

Gerard Choy, Sounding Chinese: Tracing the Voice of Early 20th-Century to Present-Day Transnational Chinese.

Mark Donoghue, The Scottish and Japanese Landscapes of Turner, Hokusai and Hiroshige from the Perspective of Deleuze.

Hiroki Yamamoto, Aesthetics for Decolonisation: Socially Engaged Art beyond the Coloniser/Colonised Binary and Postcolonial Issues of 'Adjacent' Others in East Asia.

Keun Hye Lee, "The trace of everyday performance: A Contemporary Reinterpretation on the Ondol floor."

Completed students & thesis titles

Voon Pow Barlett, Spectacle as myth: The relational and the quotidian in contemporary Chinese art (2005-2008).

Anna Basham, The Denial of Influence: Japan and British Design 1919-1939.

Jenny Lu, Between Homes - Examining the Notion of the Unheimlich in Art Practice and it's Relationship to Post-Colonial Identity in Taiwanese Contemporary Society.

Piotr Splawsk, Japonisme in Polish Pictorial Arts (1885-1939).

Chien-Chih Ni (MPhil), A Visual Wonderland: A Cross-cultural Approach to Tradition and Modernity in Shan Shui painting in Taiwan After 1987. (2005).

Helena Capkova (PhD), Interpreting Japan: Central European Architecture and Design 1920-1940,  funded by AHRC studentship (2012).

Selected research outputs