which translates from Japanese as “artist’s workspace,” is an artisan gallery featuring Japanese and Northwest fine crafts. KOBO specializes in both traditional and contemporary works, offering a selection of objects and functional forms in clay, fiber, metal, wood, textile, and paper. KOBO also exhibits the work of small studio artisans from the U.S. and abroad who share a similar affinity with Japanese folk arts and contemporary design.
KOBO Capitol Hill first opened its doors in 1995 featuring the work of small studio artisans of Japan and the functional work of Northwest artists. Exhibits are scheduled 6 times each year showing carefully selected examples of fine craftsmanship and design. KOBO is a desire for a quality of life that is defined not by the accumulation of things but rather a paring down to the essentials. In a world of limited natural resources we hope to provide a hint of inspiration, respite and a reminder of the human hands that go into making the things we surround ourselves with.
KOBO at Higo is our second shop and gallery space, located in Seattle’s historic Japantown, in the International District. KOBO occupies the former home of Higo Variety Store, which was run by the Murakami family continuously for 75 years. Binko Chiong-Bisbee and John Bisbee, an architect who has worked in Tokyo, New York and Seattle realized a dream to expand KOBO into a larger space. Exhibits featuring art, craft and design are scheduled 6 times a year. KOBO at Higo continues the tradition of our original shop, showcasing the latest work by the artists and designers which make KOBO unique. An event space is used for book readings, gallery talks, special events and larger exhibitions. KOBO at Higo maintains much of the flavor of the old variety store by utilizing its vintage fixtures, including 1930s glass cases unearthed from the Higo storeroom. Uncovered treasures include classic tin toys, an electric train set and antique cash registers, which are displayed in the refurbished space. A museum wall display and the “Meet Me at Higo” installation created by the Wing Luke Museum is also featured to tell the history of Higo Ten Cents Store in Japantown.