In his latest project, Daniel Arsham bows down before Japanese craftsmanship: it is based on his 1955 Porsche 356 Speedster, the American artist has reconceived the nearly 70-year-old sports car – laying bare the raw materials that make up the car and embracing the rich history of the vehicle through the Japanese aesthetic concept, Wabi Sabi.
Over the span of two years, Arsham took steps to reveal the vehicle’s age and wear, leaning into the car’s production history, inspired by Arsham’s reverence towards Japanese culture and its many specialized craftspeople. The acceptance of ‘imperfection’ and finding peace in the natural processes of time come through in both the stripped-down raw metal exterior and the indigo-dyed interior of the 356 Bonsai.
For the exterior of the 356, Arsham has stripped all of the paint from the car, removing the original finish and years of restorations, revealing all of the welds, pit marks, and natural wear over the course of time. Now, only a layer of linseed oil protects the raw metal from the elements, in accordance with original Japanese manufacturing processes. On the rear engine grille of the vehicle, Arsham has added a patinated bronze relief in the shape of a Bonsai tree. However, the patinated exterior does not stop at the body, as the artist also found all-original well-worn components for the rest of the exterior – from the headlight covers to the vintage license plate.
Though the exterior of the car may appear worn, the 356 Bonsai is fully drivable, with all components related to function, including the original numbered engine, having been restored to off-the-factory-floor level. For the technical works, Arsham collaborated with Willhoit Auto Restoration and the Bridgehampton Motoring Club.
“The 356 sits in such an interesting position within the Porsche catalog as the starting point for the heritage brand,” says Arsham. “The nearly 70-year-old vehicle contains the roots of the modern Porsche brand that we know and love in the purest form.”
Arsham ruminates, “Throughout my career, I have looked to Japan as a source of inspiration for their love and dedication to craft. These sensibilities were the base for the Bonsai 356. We produced all textiles in Japan using traditional craftsmen.”
For the interior of the vehicle, the artist worked alongside Japanese fashion designers Motofumi ‘Poggy’ Kogi and Yutaka Fujihara to outfit the complete interior with traditional Japanese fabrics from boro patchwork to Japanese selvedge denim. For the driver and passenger seat, along with the boot cover, these are made of indigo-dyed boro patchwork textiles. Originally, this Japanese mending technique was used to extend the quality and durability of garments, embracing the natural wear and tear of local workwear. Alongside the boro, Arsham added more indigo-dyed cotton fabric punctuated with sashiko-stitched lines on the door trim and edge of the seats. As the final fabric, Arsham and team produced a Japanese denim to upholster the roof, covering the car’s interior. These three fabrics come together to enhance the Wabi Sabi influence on the car as a whole – selectively choosing materials that are intended to progress with use and age.
In the trunk, a Japanese tatami mat sits under the spare wheel in the luggage compartment. Made of rice straw, these mats are a classic element of Japanese architecture, and are usually fitted as a floor covering in living areas. The connection between the car interior and home architecture is a detail that nods to the artist’s admiration of omotenashi, like wabi-sabi, better experienced than explained: warmth and the welcoming of guests into a household.
Daniel Arsham was born on 8 September 1980, in Cleveland, Ohio and raised in Miami, Florida. As an iconic artist of our time, Arsham breathes new life into the everyday, experimenting structurally to connect past, present and future in unexpected forms. His work is distinguished by subtle changes, in particular when he amalgamates objects in order to transform familiar structures. The 356 Bonsai is Arsham’s third project involving a car from the Zuffenhausen-based sports car manufacturer. Porsche Japan plans to exhibit the 356 Bonsai in Tokyo at the end of the year.
As a child, Daniel Arsham spent his time drawing sneakers, cameras and various Porsche models, in particular the legendary 911 Turbo.
Spokesperson Sales and Marketing
Though he long resisted becoming one in the first place, Norbert Bisky has gone on to become one of the most important artists of his time.
Journey into the surreal with the Porsche-loving digital artist Chris Labrooy.
Neo Rauch is one of the most prominent artists of our time—and an avowed Porsche fan.
He is both a neurosurgeon and an artist, but the Korean Ha Yoon above all combines the two.
© 2022 Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG.
*Data determined in accordance with the measurement method required by law. As of 1 September 2018 the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP) replaced the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC). Due to the more realistic test conditions, the fuel/electricity consumption and CO₂ emission values determined in accordance with the WLTP will, in many cases, be higher than those determined in accordance with the NEDC.
Currently we are still obliged to provide the NEDC values, regardless of the type approval process used. The additional reporting of the WLTP values is voluntary. As all new cars offered by Porsche are type approved in accordance with the WLTP, the NEDC values are therefore derived from the WLTP values. To the extent that the values are given as ranges, they do not relate to a single, individual car and are not part of the offer. They are intended solely as a means of comparing different types of vehicles. Optional equipment and accessories (attachments, tyre formats etc.) can change relevant vehicle parameters such as weight, rolling resistance and aerodynamics and, along with weather and traffic conditions and individual handling, can affect the fuel/electricity consumption, CO₂ emissions, range and performance figures of a car.
You can find more information on the difference between WLTP and NEDC at
Further information on the official fuel consumption and official, specific CO₂ emissions of new passenger cars is available in the “Guidelines on fuel consumption, CO₂ emissions and power consumption of new passenger cars” [Leitfaden über den Kraftstoffverbrauch, die CO₂-Emissionen und den Stromverbrauch neuer Personenkraftwagen], available free of charge from all sales outlets and from Deutsche Automobil Treuhand GmbH (DAT).
** Important information about the all-electric Porsche models can be found here.
1. All information offered on Porsche Newsroom, including but not limited to, texts, images, audio and video documents, are subject to copyright or other legislation for the protection of intellectual property. They are intended exclusively for use by journalists as a source for their own media reporting and are not intended for commercial use, in particular for advertising purposes. It is not permitted to pass on texts, images, audio or video data to unauthorised third parties.

2. All logos and trademarks mentioned on Porsche Newsroom are trademarks of Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG (hereinafter: Porsche AG), unless otherwise stated.

3. All contents of Porsche Newsroom are carefully researched and compiled. Nevertheless, the information may contain errors or inaccuracies. Porsche AG does not accept any liability with respect to the results that may be achived through the use of the information, in particular with respect to accuracy, up-to-dateness and completeness.

4. Insofar as Porsche Newsroom provides information concerning vehicles, the data refers to the German market. Statements concerning standard equipment and statutory, legal and tax regulations and repercussion are valid for the Federal Public of Germany only.

5. With respect to the use of Porsche Newsroom, technical faults such as, delays to news transmission, cannot be ruled out. Porsche AG does not accept any liability for any resulting damage.

6. Insofar as Porsche Newsroom provides links to the internet sites of third parties, Porsche AG does not accept any responsibility for the content of the linked sites. On using the links, the user leaves the Porsche AG information products.

7. In agreeing to these rights of use, the user shall be obliged to refrain from any improper use of Porsche Newsroom.

8. In the event of improper use, Porsche AG reserves the right to block access to Porsche Newsroom.

9. Should one or more provisions of these terms and conditions be or become invalid, this shall not affect the validity of the remaining provisions.


Shop Sephari