Just lasting for a couple of days and yet so much to see! Design Week Tokyo 2008 is (sadly) over now, but like every year, cheerful Team PingMag ran tirelessly around town, uber curious to see all the new hot stuff in artful design and designful art. We bring you a little Best of-selection! You know we’d LOVE to show you way more, so head over to our Ping Flickr afterwards. But first:
The Most Delicate Irony By Porcelain Figurines
As part of DESIGNTIDE, Spanish porcelain master Jaime Hayón displayed his enchanting creatures he made together with manufacturer Lladró at Isetan Shinjuku: Wondrous objects that extend what Jeff Koons started with his life-sized plastic kitsch figures, albeit in a less sarcastic way. Note that his melancholic looking “The Lover” is wearing the same Camper shoes Jaime Hayón just designed for that brand. Okay, we were more fascinated by the little details, such as the heart protruding from his pole, his caterpillar-shaped head cap and body, the harlequin trousers with the charming little red loafers… Also, marvel and smile at “The Rocking Chicken Ride” and the quirky details of “The Family Portrait!”
Kitsch is beautiful: “The Rocking Chicken Ride”…
… “The Lover” by Spanish porcelain wizard Jaime Hayón.
The Most Unique Art Idea
At the ULTRA exhibition at Aoyama Spiral Hall there were 25 young directors. Strolling through the rows, we found our most unique idea. It’s an artwork called “Umaibotoke” by Kosi Kawachi (presented by Nihonbashi-based gallery Roentgenwerke) and consists of a collection of Buddha statues carved out of the familiar Umai Bo snack! There were some missing parts here and there, so we asked Kosi how difficult it was to carve the sticks perfectly. But he just said, “Oh, that’s the bits I’ve nibbled myself…” Ahem, we definitely will be keeping our eyes out for more of his stuff!
The Most Warm and Fuzzy Feelings
The Icelandic booth at this year’s 100% warmed our hearts — with tons of the cutest knitwear! Iceland must indeed be a happy place (financial crisis aside) where tons of trolls and dwarves crawl around in caves kept at a pleasant temperature by the volcano around the corner. There is simply no other association that comes to mind when you get to see the wool products of Vik Prjonsdottir.
This collective resides in a town called Vik,(hence the name) and for three years, they have been into knitting quite a bit: From the “Sea Blanket” in an energetic blue with anchor patterns to keep you warm at night to the “Beard Caps,” face caps with knitted beards as fashionable adjustment. Or the most lovely “Seapelt” [see pic below], a knitted body suit in the shape of a seal which was just remixed by arty fashion boy HENRIK VIBSKOV for his winter collection he showed in Paris. Stylish sustainable wool from happy Icelandic sheep, we‘re so up for that!
The Most Artful Excellence
The most entertaining art exhibition has been undoubtedly the Aosando Art Fair, held at a small alley that connects Aoyama-Dori and Omotesando, hence the name Aosando. With H.P.DECO gallery being its centre of gravity, the exhibitions were spread out at dozens of small shops we had never really noticed until now. And we made lots of discoveries! Sure, there were tons of products on display all over Design Week, but this series of happy works reminded us most of the joys of creating!
The Simplest Practicability
A stamp calendar with each day of the year to tear off…
The stamp calendar by another Icelander, Snaefrid Porsteins, was the minimalist joy we also found at the Icelandic booth at 100%. Just tear off a stamp with each calendar date per day. In several languages! Such a simple and clever idea, and a very plain lay-out to fit in in every (office) environment. So easy and fun to use! And reminds us a lot of the beloved Christmas calendar that’s so much fun to open every day in December…
The Warmest Welcome
Like every year, we ran around all day in search for the next hot thing. No time to sit down! But wait. Out of the many sites we visited, we felt most warmly welcomed at a newly opened bookshop in Minami Aoyama called NOW IDeA by UTRECHT. Inside the shop and the garden coordinated in white, they served us creamy milk fresh from Hokkaido together with marshmallows. Well, you know how hectic the Design Week schedule can get, so the time we spent toasting marshmallows on bamboo skewers at a charcoal brazier was a truly soothing moment. Many thanks to everyone at Utrecht for their hospitality!
The Most Original Letter Patterns
At first sight, you think of traditional kimono patterns put on brooches or walls as decor. But these effective patterns are made entirely of letters from the Roman alphabet. We spotted its Swedish crafter, Malin Baumann, at the TIDE Market of DESIGNTIDE. She lives in Kanagawa together with Tetsuhiro Koyanagi, and the duo works as SHOWSTUDIO MALINBAUMANN. Surprising, how these patterns resemble the straightforward motifs on Japanese cloth!
The Holiest Display
The Designers Week is not just about the designers but also a bunch of others involved, such as various universities, colleges, companies and institutions. We knew the familiar booths by NIKE or toilet manufacturer TOTO from the last years. However, this year’s most surprising display was at the container exhibition at the Jingu Gaien main site. Lured by the scent of incenses, we were guided to a container with quite a spiritual atmosphere, which amazingly was the *display by Nichiren Buddhism! Surely we weren’t the only ones who remembered our late grannies… Let’s join our hands in prayer for the millions of rejected designs across the world!
The Most Hypnotising Visuals
Toyota and Japanese fashion designers SOMARTA teamed up for an extra bit of art, right behind the huge Designers Week area: Just in front of the Seitoku Memorial Picture Gallery, a snow white pavilion was set up for “IQ x SOMARTA MICROCOSMS.” Inside, we found filigree violet laces wrapped around mannequins whose headpieces had the futuristic shapes right out of the 1920’s Metropolis silent movie. What a connection. However, we got more hypnotised by the visuals that were projected on the pavilion’s floor: geometrical shapes in three-dimensions that were constantly transforming and reshaping themselves like Indian Mandala patterns.
The Most Impressive Architecture
The most impressive installation at Design Week would probably be the interior design of DESIGNTIDE’s main site, developed by architect Makoto Tanijiri. This year, the objects had to be stuffed in a much smaller area. But instead of partitioning the space with solid walls oppressively, Makoto Tanijiri enfolded the entire site by hanging translucent fabric from hundreds of balloons in the air to form a floating tent city. Greeting all the visitors gently, this site reminded us of the streets of Tunisia…
Turn Your World Into Knitted Objects
As part of DESIGNTIDE, we stopped by the Shibuya Workers Welfare Hall — Shibuya WASHION — where the active neighbours in Shibuya crafted lots of readymades. Here, we spare you the images of trash art. However, more knitted objects (oh, never ending trend!) by the Kawala duo, Masayoshi Yamamoto and Yuusuke Kobayashi caught our instant attention. TV sets and game controllers accurately knitted. Who can resist to touch and play with them? And what an awesome TV they knitted, including a Nu Rave coloured test card — a reminder when TV channels still had a break during the night. Old times!
A decent coloured test card: knitted TV by kawala…
… and game controller and mic accurately knitted, by kawala. Seen at Shibuya Workers Welfare Hall.
Cool duo! The Shimurabros.
The sister-and-brother artists Shimurabros. from Yokohama had their experimental film booth at TIDE Extension — but they weren’t selling anything: As art objects, they played with old filmmaking techniques versus super high-def slow-motion images. Well done!
During DESIGNTOUCH Performance outside on the giant Midtown Plaza, visual players such as ENLIGHTENMENT, d.v.d, or DJ Towa Tei and a lot more were playing to cheer up the crowds in the chilly autumn evenings. For free!
We enjoyed it a lot! For more visual delights, head over to our Flickr selection, please. Ha, see you next year!