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Tokyo designers week 2013

Two weeks ago, Laura invited me to join her for Tokyo designers week fair. It was the first time for me to attend it though I have heard about it before. This year it was preceding Design festa in Tokyo Big Sight. Unfortunately, going there is not really an option for me these days so I jumped to the opportunity to visit this one which was much closer, in Shinjuku. A lot of works were introduced by many design schools around Japan presenting works in various niches such as conceptual art and media, package design and DTP, industrial and agricultural design, technology, automotive industry etc.



The weather was incredible – perfect for a day out surrounded by creativity and imagination.  I was so inspired by innovative ideas and scrupulously crafted designs.  Due to the lack of free time, I had to skip a lot of stands, but the ones I did see fascinated me. Aesthetically, I am very drawn to geometric forms and symmetric lines. I found a lot of interesting patterns and shapes introduced in industrial design and furniture making.





There were also big names presenting their new products such as Nike with authentic athlete Tech fleeces and capes, Wacom with its new incredible Cintiq tablet and Adobe with its creative cloud service that allows anyone to use ALL Adobe software for 5000yen a month (3000yen if you are a student).



After trying Wacom new tablets, I begged my company to buy me one and although I couldn’t persuade them to splurge on a Cintiq tablet with direct on-screen drawing, I received a brand new Intuos pro. As a designer, I always took big pride in my skill of using an old-fashioned mouse to do all my drawings but over the years, I realized that it’s just stupid to go through all this trouble just because I can. So I finally gave in and decided to start using tablet like everyone else to make my life much easier and my work more pleasurable. ^-^


We participated in an on-going social media art project where we had to use stickers to change the color of the interior walls of a container. Inside, there was a time-lapse camera streaming to YouTube the video of the gradual change of colors from day to day. While playing with the stickers, Laura met some fans who took photos with her inside the container. I bet that confused both the creators of the project and the ones watching it. But it was a lot of fun. ^-^



After that, Laura and mine interests went separate ways. I was absorbed in all things furniture and interior design and she spent half an hour at a professional film making equipment stand. There was this funny looking Instagram-like camera that is industry favorite and is often used to shoot documentaries all over the world. The second the camera was in Laura’s hands, she started speaking what seemed like a foreign language to me about apertures, angles and lenses..


I was more into these color-blocked stools and low chairs presented by Tokyo’s furniture school.



And I really liked these cute little lighters with self-tamer that can serve as candles too. They were created by Hisakazu Shimizu – ex-chief designer for Canon’s IXY digital camera series. He also invented a lighter that can light up all candles on a birthday cake at once. ^-^


My favorite were Bordbars – original airplane trolleys utilized as wine bars, storage cabinets, kitchen tables etc. They are very diversified, can store a lot and are very slim and mobile – perfect for small Japanese houses. ^-^


I was very inspired by these beautiful Alice in wonderland themed frames. The artists who created them were two giggly women in their 40s from Kansai. They kept laughing while covering their mouths with their hands and saying “kawaii, kawaii” every time me or Laura stroke a pose for a photo and yet, behind the stereotypical facade of  “Osaka obasan” was hiding this incredible talent.



For a decade I lived in Shibuya so I am only too familiar with Seibu’s Art meets life exbibitions. I used to check them not only as an excuse to go shopping at Seibu but also because a lot of them were free and really interesting.
This time, a design company Nendo did a collaboration with “Art meets life” project and presented beautiful tableware made in the best traditions of Japanese craftsmanship but with a modern twist. Unfortunately these amazing things are way out of my budget. :(




The very first designer we met at the exhibition was Jorge Javier Cruz – industrial designer from Mexico.

He and other two designers (they called themselves three mexicans) came to Japan to study traditional manipulation techniques of copper, wood and rice paper to then use it in a completely different way thus creating innovative, beautifully crafted interior pieces. I was very impressed.



Speaking of traditions. Mokume-gane is another highly skilled ancient metal-smith technique invented by an Akita samurai sword maker that was used in a contemporary way. The technique involves forming a wood-grain pattern by utilizing the metals of different color. I discovered this amazing infinity shape that was made as a whole and then separated into two marriage rings. Such an exquisite technique and beautiful idea. You can learn more about the Mokume-gane jewerly here.


There was an art pavilion as well and I particularly liked the works of Itagaki Mami. His realistic sculptures depict the fragile beauty of metropolitan life.


“Takenoko no sato” and “Kinoko no yama” are the most beloved chocolate cookies produced by Meiji – one of the major Japanese food companies. They are so popular, you can even buy them in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Students from the Tokyo school of design came up with an idea to diversify its taste and tie it up to a country or place it represents. For example, chocolate cookie with macadamia nuts would represent Hawaii, chocolate cookie with brandy would represent France etc. They have created an original package for each taste and presented the project under the name “The travelling cookie”. I thought it was very interesting and I would definitely have liked to try some of the tastes. Unfortunately Meiji did not respond positively to the idea.. Such a shame..


There was a lot more interesting ideas and products but unfortunately I could not see them all. I will make sure to leave more time for the exhibition next year. ^-^

One Comment Post a comment
  1. jen #

    Super cool! Thank you for sharing!

    December 14, 2013

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