A seed was planted

In a digital age, as we contemplated the state of the world's cultural heritages, the discovery of Inami woodcarving ignited a passion. Moving beyond initial online exploration to a deeper appreciation, a mission emerged: to safeguard the legacy of handcrafted artistry amidst the tide of modernization. Thus began our mission with Catalyst – to weave the enduring essence of traditional decorative arts into the fabric of the future, starting with the tradition of Inami woodcarving.

As Agents

To give birth to a new type of global market ecosystem - a combination of talent agency/gallery/auction house that mandates transparency, maintains provenance, and is driven by a future-conscious market expert - to create, nurture, and maintain a culture of intellectual, financial, and community integrity.

Of Future Heritage

Catalyst creates value for antique artworks as well as commissions for currently working craftspeople. In 35 or 300 years, such commissioned artworks, marking this moment in history, could be valuable additions to the collections of the future.

Of Our Evolving World

We envision producing a traveling art exhibition that provides an immersive experience. This will need to be financed, as the works will need to be insured and transported properly, leases will need to be secured, and there are the costs of installation, marketing, promotion of an art book for patrons to buy, employee salaries, etc. We envision a multi-partnered sponsorship of something like the Princeton University Art Museum, the Departments of Near Eastern Studies and East Asian Studies, as well as other corporate, governmental, and institutional sponsors, including interested individual art collectors/patrons.

Our ongoing thoughts about...

The Renaissance To Come

Following the advent of machine mass production and worldwide changes during the 20th century, the costs of customized handcraftsmanship far exceeded those of utilitarian mass production for decorative arts. Reconstruction needed to happen quickly, and style trends that favored austerity prevailed. However, nearly 70 years after the upheaval of traditions following World War II, we sense a growing awareness of and demand for cultural heritage.

We believe that trends in many aspects of life will be changing, and there will be a renewed interest in apprenticeships-trained crafted arts that have captivated us for millennia.

Catalyst aims to promote heritage crafts. It works on many levels, mainly by connecting craftsmen with patrons beyond their established local communities where they have been for hundreds of years. We seek a global network, from architects and designers for customized decorative arts trimmings (doors, transoms, floor/wall/ceiling panels, fencing, cabinetry, decorative sculptures) to a sophisticated group of individual and institutional collectors.

We envision potential traveling and gallery exhibitions while creating an online market nexus of an art knowledge base and community of registered sponsors, governmental and trade entities, scholars and educational institutions, patrons, masters, and learners. While the website provides an immediate connection, we also envision opportunities for live conferences and annual events like trade shows.

Our vision for an online secondary market is to provide liquidity to owners when they sell artifacts while providing interested buyers with provenance and authenticity. While there are other artistic sectors with better research and trading histories - like woodblock prints, kimonos, or carved jade sculptures - the upside value for this collector base should evolve as the ecosystem grows.

All of this is preliminary. We seek those interested to join us to contact us and find a spot in our calendar to chat in person or via Zoom.

Our Team

We are a growing team who share a deep commitment to the importance of cultural heritage. Our mission is to preserve and actively promote the traditional decorative arts, focusing our efforts on supporting the increasingly scarce craftsmen who are in urgent need of assistance

Karim Thalji


Rolfe Haas
Alumni Advisor
Katsuhiko Nakajima
Cultural Liaison and Local Representative