If I tried to sum up this year’s TOKYO DESIGN WEEK – which consists of 100% Design, Tokyo Designer’s Week with the container ground exhibition and the Student Design exhibition, Designboom market and Design Tide – then I must say that altogether everything seemed much quieter than last year… I missed the Big Brits who were always the first with a pint in their hand at any event last year, the Icon magazine banned the sexy Japanese pole dance performers from this year’s party altogether, a roof-top party didn’t take place and major mood masters KleinDytham weren’t even in town… Nevertheless – TOKYO DESIGN WEEK is always worth checking out, especially because things turned out a little different this year…
Written by Uleshka and Verena
Welcoming our new PingMag member Verena on the first day of DESIGN WEEK – we had one more person on board helping to cover all possible events. We sheered out to different events on the “official opening party evening”, Tuesday, 31st – but all ended up at Design Tide’s Main Event space. Why? Simply because that turned out to be the nicest spot to be in throughout the whole week!
Sticky Party! Design Tide opening party with smiling guests but… we spare you images of the gluey floor.
The lovely Design Tide tape everywhere! Cover a simple chair completely and it turns to an art object immediately
Tokyo Designer’s Week with its 100% design, the Designboom market and the container ground exhibition were all in the same spot: the lovely Jingu Gaien being located at the end of a long ginko tree avenue. The large “tent” hosted 100% Design and the Design Boom market, whereas the containers were arranged in a big U – leaving some green grass space for Tokyo’s design students to place their colorful furniture projects in the middle, with an extra tent for events, talks etc. – all under the theme of LOVE!
Design Tide’s overall theme was PEACE, or to be precise, it was ______&PEACE. Until this year, Design Tide placed their featured products or projects in selected shops and event spaces scattered all over Tokyo. This year, however, they had their first own main event space on Meiji Dori – which made all the difference!
I guess people who have been to Design Tide will continue talking about the sticky ground they had on the third floor of the occupied building (someone decided to tear out the carpet in the last second…). That had nothing to do with the exhibited works, but was a good conversation starter (“Hello! Is this your shoe stuck over there?” “No, thanks – I lost mine 2 hours ago…”). Not only was the atmosphere super friendly and heartwarming, the guys from Design Tide really put a lot of emphasis on sustainability, recycling and an overall design awareness. Well done!
Enough introduction now!
Here is our BEST OF DESIGN WEEK – a selection of everything that happened in town that week.
BEST OUTDOOR FURNITURE:
Nichiesu (100% Design)
Is it a futuristic plastic tree? Kind of, if you have one of those on your veranda I guess it would fit in nicely next to your palm tree. In fact, this round shaped basketwork sculpture is an assembly of garden furniture from the Japanese company Nichiesu. In their effort of saving space as well as designing minimalistic outdoor tools they succeeded greatly! This big olive coloured tree consists of 5 parts: two bigger and two smaller seats together with a small 5 o’clock tea table. Cozy, handy, weather-proof and beautiful. What else could you ask for outside?
MOST ELEGANT LIGHT SOLUTION:
Flexilight by Jos Kranen (Design Tide)
In the imaginary SF country everything is made of electrifying metal and neon. Flexilight by Dutch Jos Kranen looks like it fell out of this land to educate us in the art of electronic frailty: This extendable light system meanders along the wall like electrodes on a chip board. Along the road they split in several lines to find their endings in light bulbs. “I designed Flexilight out of sheer frustration”, Jos admits on his website. He didn’t like the ugly extension cords he had to use for his lamps after he had moved to a new place, so he just designed something more convenient to avoid dangling cords ever again. He used low-voltaged LED and connected parts that can be expanded all over the house. How sophisticated!
MOST DOWN TO EARTH RESEARCH:
Pewter Stool by Max Lamb (Design Tide)
First Max poures pewter in the molding ground.
And out comes a wonderful table from the sands.
Max Lamb’s presentation at Design Tide’s PechaKucha Night was touching. Just how you think a life of a real designer should be like: travelling the world, watching local craftsmen at work, coming up with relevant projects and collaborating. While still at the RCA in London, this is exactly what Max has been doing: down to earth research and trial and error products fusioning local knowledge and his creative mind. Back to good old England, he visited his home Cornwall and decided to create something out of what is local there: pewter (a form of lead) and sandy beaches. What did he come up with? He created a negative shape for a stool out of sand and poured hot pewter into it. After a few minutes an astonishingly heavy and beautiful piece of furniture was created! Wow! He just graduated and now started working at a famous British design studio – hope he will still find time to continue his impressingly beautiful down-to-earth projects!
MOST IMPRESSIVE PATTERN DESIGN:
Kimono patterns going up the wall by Jotaro Saito (100% Design)
Jotaro Saito has been actually one of the youngest Kimono designers around. To bring some fresh air in this fashion genre he is now expanding his floral Kimono patterns all over the house: He created not only one wallpaper in saturated golden, silver and red but simply mixed several different patterns together in a patchwork style. That didn’t stop him from covering furniture like a couch or a lamp with his rich patterns and even shoes. Thanks to the darker tone you don’t feel overwhelmed by the colours, they even give a kind of comforting feel. Would love my next hotel room to look like that!
BEST CONTAINER INSTALLATION:
Hulger prison (Container Ground)
MoshiMoshi? Can you hear me on the other side?
Yes! Oh, it is so much fun to talk for free… even in prison!
Although Hulger phones were already exhibited at Designer’s Week last year, their neat prison phone installation simply made everybody smile – and talk to each other for hours. Interesting to watch how much speechless couples suddenly have to say to one another once they are separated through a glass wall….
MOST “I want one, too!”- ITEM:
Pink Flamingos from Viable (Container Ground)
This year London’s Designers Block rented a couple of containers to present their works. British designer team Viable simply stuck to the theme of LOVE and jammed countless pink flamingos in their shiny silver container. It certainly made everyone stop and for those who asked, they even had a little story: “It’s like a scene in a club. Tons of birds around but only two who really match! Once it gets dark, the two flamingos in love start glowing.” Cute! If you want to know what Viable are doing besides bird watching, check out their website!
MOST HEARTWARMING IDEA:
Lap Seat by Unit Sa-Shi-Su-Se-So (Student’s exhibition)
Now you know. Three availabale laps to sit on comfortable. Feels almost too real!
Try the Lap Seat by Unit Sa-Shi-Su-Se-So.
The student area – like every year – feels like a big playground, a trial and error platform of some truly fun ideas, some which look rather familiar or others which look far more professional than some of the stuff in the containers next to them… I smiled most at this heartwarming bench of 3 guys’ laps covered in authentic jeans. Especially moving when you see a group of 3 single ladies each sitting down, making a small sigh and then nod to one another. I suppose there is a market for those things…
BEST PUBLIC ART PIECE:
Hachiko (Student’s exhibition)
Hachiko – Tokyo’s most photographed statue, is an over-famous bronze dog waiting outside Shibuya station. Now some students gave the dog a new look, some color and even better: the possibility to have a famous Hachiko in every city around the world. These should definitely be mass produced!
Japanese patterns on working gloves by Cactus Design (Designboom Mart)
See this lovely pair of solid working gloves too beautiful to use for gardening? These black gloves got their extra elegant touch by coating them with white rubber textures that resemble traditional Kimono prints, tribals or other Japanese style ornaments. Also nicely wrapped, the neatly sealed silver bag comes with a CD containing pictures and several print-outs in black and white getting into the total “designer working glove”-mood showing a big dreadlocked man wearing the gloves with quite a meditating expression. They must be ideal for yoga practicing, too then… Design and production by Cactus Design Japan, they also go under the Japanese name of Shin Nihon Gunte.
1. Emanuel Babled’s frying pan (100% Design)
Now here is what I missed all my life: tiny flowers on my omlette! If you want to impress your next guests, I highly recommend to get this easy to clean (one hopes) Teflon fry-pan called “tattoo” by Emanuel Babled.
2. Lilliana Ovalle Piedra’s “Fuego Lento – Hot Pot Stand” (Design Tide)
Exhibited at the Talented – British Student Show 2006 at Paul Smith Space this is another fine product from the Royal College of Art: Lilliana Ovalle Piedra’s “Fuego Lento” is not for the sensitive persons amongst you. While officially expressing “fire” with her Hot Pot Stand, this stylish red kitchen accessory actually exhales humorous discomfort. Could these also be the bloody teeth of a greedy shark or the fleshy red gum of a nightmarish creature? Either way, this design item will entertain you before, during and after supper…
Cassette tape wallets by Marcella Foschi (Designboom mart)
Italian designer Marcella Foschi sold these little wallets made out of old – foremost Italian – cassette tapes. Irresistibly nostalgic for anyone who grew up with chewed-up tape like me…
MOST HARD TO READ:
NOOKA wrist watches (Design Tide)
This is definitely for people who do not simply want an easy wrist watch – too profane. It turns telling the time to an adventure for any NOOKA wearer, because you have to do more than just take a quick glance at your watch. Find out what time it is all about by calculating those scales and points indicated on your NOOKA glowing in the matching color to which ever model you chose. Matthew Waldman gave a funny bi-lingual speech at Design Tide about his precious (and a bit pricey) products – and the other stuff they do at NOOKA. Seems like a funny bunch to be with!
MOST KIDS’ FUN:
Toypography by DainipponTypeOrganization (Design Tide)
Toypography means putting together one word in English and in Kanji with the same little chumps. Sometimes you can even create the animal figure out of it.
DainipponTypeOrganization presenting at PechaKucha Night, Design Tide.
Not only was the “Toypography” corner the best place for all design parents to hang out, these guys simply make amazing works with typography. Unfortunately almost impossible to translate their jokes into English since most of it is based on Japanese characters, DainipponTypeOrganization gave a fantastic speech at DesignTide’s PechaKucha Night last Friday. Respect for this excellent humor and typography skill!
Shadow Monsters (Design Tide)
We already mentioned Philip Worthington’s “Shadow Monsters” in last weeks article, but thought we simply have to mention it once again, not only because we found this nice YouTube video explaining his work so well but simply because this processing installation is so addictive. People just spent hours in front of the projector watching their shaddow turn into monsters making the funniest noises….
Blickfang exhibition (Design Tide inside Omotesando Hills)
The banal tourist t-shirt gets an upgrade at Blickfang fashion fair.
Bandages don’t have to look boring anymore. Spice up your injuries with a touch of pink and yellow, finishing off with silver design patches.
There were various exhibitions, of course, but Blickfang introducing furniture, fashion and jewellery design from Switzerland, Austria and Germany was probably the most colorful one. Interesting to see how these countries which usually try and hide their traditional roots (I guess every normal person would still be ashamed to wear a dirndl on the street…) now use these as strong influences in contemporary fashion.
D-BROS at Spiral Garden Aoyama Design Tide)
In case you forgot: Time is always running out and D-BROS act as your friendly reminder.
More clocks at Spiral Garden.
Old Dutch oil paintings used to give the viewer a little hint to remind them of the perishability of all worldly things. The Japanese D-BROS like to execute that on us today in a similar way: lots of clocks counting the lost minutes of our lives or carved cobwebs on glass tables demonstrating our rotten future – yet very elegant! All works by these graphic designers could be experienced at Spiral Garden.
BEST EVENT SPACE:
Performance & Live Paint: DoraVideo – amazing trash visuals and a drummer that beat the hell out of that venue! Loud and great!
DoraVideo VJs – nice outfits!
Well – there only seems to be one spot really where every evening has to end during Design Week and that would be SuperDeluxe! Highlight parties of the week were the Icon magazine party on Thursday (with two down-sides: a cute-only DJ girl ruined all possible atmosphere in the beginning and they censored the amazing Miss Apollo pole dancers this year… so some spice was missing) and the massive SuperDeluxe Anniversary and End-Of-Design-Week party on Saturday.
Japanese one-man-show: this performer was hillarious and his old school Japanese outfit was a truly nice match to these visuals
This half-naked woman was trapped inside this giant fish-bowl moving gently between those styrofoam pearls for 7 hours! What if she had to go to the toilet?
Missing Man Foundation performing
reminding me a little of Günther Schickert, this Japanese duo drifted into experimental sound space – beautiful!
For a visual journey of the entire Design Week, we recommend to check out our report-photos we uploaded to our Flickr page for you!