Elsa Peretti and Japan

Video by Claudia Ferri

“The impact I felt on my first trip to Japan in 1969 was the speed and technology of a train from Tokyo to Kyoto and the exquisite craftsmanship of the things I saw. With Yasuyoshi Morimoto’s help and patience, like a capricious child I managed to persuade the best craftsmen to manufacture some of my forms”Elsa Peretti Elsa Peretti, Fifteen of my Fifty with Tiffany & Co. exhibition catalogue, F.I.T., New York 1990.

Photo by Claudia Ferri, San Marti Vell Archives featuring photographs by Paco Rebes

For Elsa Peretti, travel was important for the mind; it awakened her innate curiosity, nourished her soul, and inspired her creations. In 1969, she visited Japan for the first time: “The beauty of the country, the way they do things, even the way they serve food… Yes, Japan is inspiring,” she later told to Palmer Beach Magazine. In Japan, Elsa Peretti lived in the spirit of the moment, “ichigo ichie” as the Japanese culture and tea masters describe it, treasuring every single thing she saw and experienced, from the moon reflected in a sake cup to the speed and technology of the train that took her from Tokyo to Kyoto.

Elsa Peretti giving her “open” heart to Murakami san,
the carver that shaped some of her designs for Tiffany & Co.

©All rights reserved Lesley Frowick, Japan, 1988
Photo Claudia Ferri, San Marti Vell Archives

Letter by Mr. Shimofuri to Elsa Peretti, 1990

“Madame Peretti, A golden carp, swam against the muddy torrent a thousand miles upstream, met the barrier of a waterfall, struggled, and suddenly leap clear, transformed into a shining dragon to fly free into the translucent air.” Mr. Shimofuri

On the 23rd April, 1990 Elsa received by fax this beautiful poem sent to her by Mr Shimofuri, the Japanese craftsman doing her lacquer work for Tiffany & Co. That same day her very first retrospective “Fifteen of my Fifty with Tiffany” debuted at the F.I.T. New York.

Fifteen of my Fifty with Tiffany, 1990

Photo by Claudia Ferri, San Marti Vell Archives

Japan Emergency: support for the victims of the Japan earthquake, 2011

Elsa Peretti’s deep affection for Japan prompted her to help during the 2011 natural disaster through the Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation. On March 11, 2011, Japan was hit by a massive 8.9-magnitude earthquake, the most powerful in the nation’s recorded history. The seismic event triggered devastating tsunamis, unleashing 30-foot waves that obliterated rice fields, wiped out towns, and wreaked havoc on the landscape, tossing cars and boats as if they were mere toys.

©All rights reserved Paco Rebes