Spotlight on Versatile Visual Display Artist Asaki Oda

I don't know if I've ever spotlighted an artist who is as multi-talented as Asaki Oda. She uses paper, cardboard, and even Tyvek along with many other materials to create large-scale visual displays and installations, as well as much smaller framed works. Enjoy this taste of her diverse artistic ventures.


store display featuring cardboard reindeer with large rack of antlers trimmed with tinsel 

Asaki was born in Japan and grew up there, as well as Brazil and the United States. After graduating with a B.F.A. in set design she worked in the New York theater world and in Tokyo.

close up of lilac and white floral blossoms with yellow stamens, all made of paper pulp 

Following a move to the San Francisco Bay Area, she became a display artist for Anthropologie, the fashion and lifestyle stores known for imaginative floor and window decor, a job that she credits with expanding her skills and use of materials.


store window display of swirling paper school of fish

If you've noticed that Anthro windows and in-house displays differ from store to store yet have strong similarities, and have perhaps wondered who comes up with these concepts that change with the season, Asaki was one of those prototype designers. Pretty cool!


clothing store display of painted cardboard musical horns

Reusing materials in her work is especially important to Asaki, as evidenced by this playful elephant with its canvas-covered cardboard structure.


large-scale handmade elephant model on display in clothing store

Perhaps you remember one spring several years ago when large-scale floral quilling graced Anthro windows across the nation. This close up example is Asaki's work.


large scale quilled paper flower (detail)


She is now working independently as a freelance artist, creating customized permanent pieces such as huge painted murals or small paper sculptures for restaurants, stores, and homes.


bouquet of pastel painted paper flowers

Asaki told me that she has "been working on and off on a series I call Nestled. When the SF Bay Area went into lockdown I felt like I needed a new project. I discovered a tufted titmouse couple had made a nest inside our old pear tree, and I could see and hear them from my bedroom. They gave me so much joy and inspired me to start this series featuring little critters living among us."


paper sculpture tufted titmouse on branch

"My next big project is for the Setouchi Art Festival in Japan. I have been commissioned to create sea animals to be featured at the ferry terminal there. My idea is to use recycled shipping paper - brown kraft paper like the kind I’ve been using for my Nestled birds."


box-framed handmade brown paper bird on paper branch sculpture

See more of Asaki Oda's art on her website and follow along on Instagram where she occasionally posts in-progress photos of her work.


store display of large whale sculpture made of bleached denim being hugged by smiling woman


We'll end with this photo of Asaki happily hugging a whale she made for Anthropologie, constructed mostly of bleached denim.

You might enjoy previous posts about Anthropologie displays: here, here, here, and here.

Ann Martin
Ann Martin

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  1. Ann, Wow, I just am amazed at her talent. I have been scrolling her Instagram. Someone asked her a question I wish she would have answered because I have always wondered the same thing. They asked "What happens to the Anthropologie displays after they are done with them?". Pat

    1. So glad you enjoyed it, Pat! I remember reading that the whale sculpture was relocated to a marine science lab so my best guess is that whenever possible new homes are found for the displays.


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