Nicolas Buffe, a French artist based in Tokyo, is the creator behind a multifaceted, interdisciplinary world combining erudite and popular culture.
Born in 1978, he belongs to a generation naturally marked by Japanese culture, developing from childhood a passion for cartoons, manga and video games. These references were supplemented throughout the course of his studies by classic works of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, such as The Romance of the Rose and The Dream of Poliphilus. This blending of narrative and visual influences is omnipresent in his work, which is based on the humanistic notion of «serio ludere» or «playing seriously».

His work has been presented in France and internationally through exhibitions and outstanding installations, such as in La Maison Rouge (2007, Le Vestibule), Tokyo Contemporary art museum (2008), MAD Paris (2010, Circuit Céramique), Hara Museum of contemporary art de Tokyo (2014, soloshow), Théâtre du Châtelet – Paris and Nijō Castle – Kyoto (Nuit Blanche 2016), French May at Hong Kong City Hall, and K11 Hong Kong (2017 soloshows), Sèvres : 300 Creative years (2017-2018, Suntory Museum – Tokyo and Osaka, Hagi, Shizuoka). Roppongi Art Night (2018, Tokyo) and Magiques Licornes at Musée de Cluny – Paris (2018-19). Over the winter of 2018-2019, he set up a monumental installation inside Ginza Six in Tokyo.

This fusion of narrative and visual influence is omnipresent in his work, mostly based on drawing and the humanist notion of Serio Ludere or playing seriously.

Nicolas Buffe, portrait, 180423 Museum Garage, photo by ImagenSubliminal (Miguel de Guzman + Rocio Romero)

Photo by ImagenSubliminal (Miguel de Guzman + Rocio Romero), 2018

Nicolas Buffe also enjoys exploring multiple creative domains : alongside partnerships with cultural institutions (Craft Limoges, Aubusson International City of Tapestry and Woven Art (1st Prize 2010 for “Peau de Licorne”), Sèvres – Cité de la Céramique, ..), he developed several collaborations in the areas of luxury and fashion (Hermès, Comme des Garçons, Pierre Hermé, N2 ..). Nicolas Buffe ventured into opera and created on two occasions for the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris stage and costume designs (2012 Best Scenic Design of the year for Haydn’s “Orlando Paladino”). He created in 2017 on the theme of Orpheus the front stage curtain of “La Seine Musicale” on the Seguin Island near Paris. Recently, in 2018, he designed one of the five facades of the the Museum Garage in Miami’s Design District (project curated by Terence Riley, with WORKac; J. Mayer H.; Clavel Arquitectos; K/R). In 2018 he was appointed Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Government (ceremony in 2019). Beginning in 2020, on the occasion of a new collaboration with Medicom Toy he releases several of his iconic works. 

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Solo exhibitions

2019 / Shoot’em up, Galerie MiniMasterpiece, Paris

2018-19 / Fantastic Gift, Fantastic Gift, monumental installation at Ginza Six, Tokyo

2018 / Trompe l’oeil, Trompe l’oeil, Monster no megane yasan, JINS Shibuya, Tokyo

2017 / The Universe in Me, K11 Hong Kong

2017 / The Dream of Polifilo, Le French May, City Hall, Hong Kong

2017 / Poliphile et Polia, Galerie de Sèvres, Paris

2017 / Poliphile et Polia, GALERIE DE SÈVRES, Paris

2014 / Polifilo’s dream, Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo

2014 / Polifilo’s dream, Artium, Fukuoka

2014 / Polia’s Nightmare, YAMAMOTO GENDAI, Tokyo

2012 / Marges, Galerie Schirman & de Beaucé, Paris

2011 / La Peau de Licorne, Cité Internationale de la Tapisserie, Aubusson

2010 / La Tour, Megumi Ogita Gallery, Tokyo

2009 / Mutations merveilleuses de divers trucs, galerie Schirman & de Beaucé
2009 / Games of Love and Chance, Envoy Gallery & SdB, New-York

2007 / Studiolo, Le vestibule, La Maison Rouge, Paris
2007 / Hypnerotomachies, galerie Schirman & de Beaucé, Paris
2007 / Crepusolo della Matina, Chapelle des Calvairiennes, Mayenne

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Group exhibitions

2018 / Magiques Licornes, Musée de Cluny, Paris
2018 / Furoshiki Paris
2018 / Roppongi Art Night, Tokyo

2017-18 / Sèvres: 300 Creative Years; Suntory Museum, Tokyo; Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Osaka ; Hagi Uragami Museum; Shizuoka City Museum of Art

2016 / Nuit Blanche, Paris, France / Kyoto

2014 / The Mirror, Hold the Mirror up to nature, Ginza, Tokyo

2014 / ART KURABIRAKI FUJIYOSHIDA 2014, Former Fuji Seihyo Building, Yamanashi

2013 / Mineral Design, Lieu du Design, Paris, France

2013 / Révélations, Grand Palais, Paris

2013 / Side Core, Terratoria, Tokyo

2012 / Licornes et bestes étranges…, Felletin, France


2011 / Parcours Saint Germain 11, Saint Germain area, Paris

2010 / Pac-Man 80’s to 10’s Game & Culture, Arts Chiyoda 3331, Tokyo

2010 / Toy Show, MEGUMI OGITA GALLERY, Tokyo

2010 / Circuit céramique : Contemporary French Ceramic Scene at Les Arts Décoratifs, Paris

2010 / Fake!, Alost Museum, Belgium

2010 / Confrontation/Céramique, Angoulème Museum – France

2009 / No Man’s Land, French Embassy in Japan, Tokyo

2009 / Play Time, Parcours Saint Germain 09, Saint Germain area, Paris

2008 / Roof Gardens, Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo

2008 / Il était une fois…, Parcours Saint Germain 08, Saint Germain area, Paris

2007 / Nuit Blanche, Mayenne Ville, le Kiosque

2007 / Visites dessinées, Musée National des Arts et Métiers (CNAM), Paris

2006 / Salon de la jeune création, Paris

2005 / Exposition n°2, Galerie Schirman & de Beaucé, Paris

2005 / Exposition n°1, Galerie Schirman & de Beaucé, Paris

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Design / Scenography

2020〜 / The Dream of Polifilo series, Medicom Toy
2020-21 / “À Table !” visual design, Musée National de Céramique, Sèvres
2020-21 / Otohime, Hakata City, Fukuoka
2020-21 / Un Voyage dans la Lune, Herbis Osaka

2019 / Shoot’em up, Galerie MiniMasterpiece, Paris, Manufacture Nationale de Sèvres, France

2018 / Museum Garage, Miami Design District / Design : WORK AC; J. Mayer H.; Nicolas Buffe; Clavel Arquitectos; K/R, Keenen Riley / Curation: Terence Riley / development : Craig Robins (DACRA)

2017 / Orpheus and the Muses, front curtain for La Seine Musicale, Île Seguin, France

2016 / Sèvres – Cuisson au four à bois, MANUFACTURE NATIONALE DE SÈVRES, France

2016 / N2 / jewelry design Autumn Winter 2016 collection

2016 / Pierre Hermé “A story of the kingdoms of the Sun and the Moon”, collaboration

2016 / Mitsukoshi Isetan 7 Gods of Fortune Mitsukoshi Isetan, Japan Senses, visual conception, Tokyo

2015 / Scenography, costume design, visual conception and co-direction for the opera “Il Re Pastore” at Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris

2014 / Comme des Garçons SHIRT: Collaboration, drawings for prints Autumn Winter 2014 collection

2014 / Hermès : carré, maxi twilly “Serio Ludere” Autumn Winter 2014 collection

2014 / Hermès: Visual direction for Hermès theme event 2014, Tokyo

2014 / Scenography & costume design for “The Red Shoes” with company Derashinera, Aoyama Round Theatre, Tokyo

2012 / Scenography, costume design and visual conception for the opera “Orlando Paladino” at Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris

2010 / Little Red Riding Hood ′′Carré” (window display), Maison Hermès, Tokyo

2009 / Toys customisation : «Poseidon» & «Mighty» / Shikaruna Koubou, Tokyo

2009 / Scenography for Ten to Sen, Cie Derashinera, Kawasaki, Japan

2009 / Scenography for «Ten to Sen», with company Derashinera, Kawasaki, Japan

2007 / Chesharo, porcelain vase, le CRAFT, Limoges

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Awards/ Grants 

2019 / Miami Museum Garage awards : Architizer A+ Jury Award “Concepts – Plus-Architecture + Collaboration” // International Architecture Awards, ArchDaily – “Transportation” category

2018 / Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters), French government / Award ceremony held in 2019 in Paris

2018 / Miami Museum Garage awards : AIA Awards Miami : Winner 2018, Honor Award // NPA Innovation Awards 2018, Winner 2018 Best Innovative Facility of the Year // Best of Design Awards. The Architect’s Newspaper : Honorable Mention Façades Category // FPTA Awards of Excellence // IPI Awards of Excellence

2017 / DSA Space Design Award 2017 Best 50 Prize, Collaboration with Pierre Hermé 2017 event

2016 / DSA Space Design Award 2016 Gold Prize, Isetan Shinjuku Store Main building ISETAN JAPAN SENSES “Mutsumi no Bi”

2015 / Creative Europe Media, project funding grant for « Super Polifilo »

2013 / CNC, Dicream, project funding grant for « Locus Terribilis »

2012 / Best Scenic Design of the year for Orlando Paladino, French critics association
FNAGP, project funding grant for « Super Polifilo »

2010 / 1st prize of the Call for contemporary creation project of the Cité Internationale de la Tapisserie, Aubusson, France

2009 / SAM art projects, project « Pulcino »

2008 / Finalist, Le Meurice pour l’Art Contemporain prize, Paris

2007 / Japanese government-sponsored Scholarship program /Tokyo University of the Arts (Tokyo Geijutsu Daigaku)
First catalogue funding grant for « Hypneromomachies »

2002 / Drawing award of the National School of Fine Arts, Paris

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2014 / Ph.D. Intermedia Art, Tokyo University of the Arts (Tokyo Geijutsu Daigaku)

2011 / M.A. Intermedia Art, Tokyo University of the Arts (Tokyo Geijutsu Daigaku)

2007 / Licence in Japanese Language and Civilization Studies, Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales (Inalco), Paris

2005 / DNSAP, École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts (Ensba), Paris (National School of Fine Arts)

2000 / BTS, Architectural environment design, Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts-Appliqués et des Métiers d’Arts (Ensaama), Olivier de Serres, Paris

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