japanese art, design and culture

Posts from — September 2009

Chigo natural wooden toys

chigo toy assortment

I wrote a short post on Chigo wooden toys. I remember playing with these toys as a child, and how the simplistic beauty would stimulate my imagination for hours on end. Especially the seemingly magical wooden tops, which actually turn upside down on their heads while spinning (YouTube clip)! Read the full story on inhabitots.

September 30, 2009   4 Comments

Sol x Sol DIY succulents kit

Looking for a gift? One that says, I know Christmas is still 3 months away but just wanted to let you know I was thinking of you? One that also says, you couldn’t keep a plant alive even if you lived in a South East Asian rain forest, so I got you this? Look no further than the DIY succulents kit (2200 yen) from Sol x Sol.  You’ll receive 6 different kinds of succulents that you are free to arrange as you please. Or, you can follow their photo-assisted step-by-step tutorial. And once you are done the plants are super maintenance-free.

sol x sol 1
sol x sol 2 sol x sol 3

And if you find these plants as aesthetically pleasing as I do there is some free wallpaper you can download here (although I must say, the whole desktop wallpaper thing is kind of kaput, no?)
sol x sol wallpaper


September 28, 2009   Comments Off

uniqlo shoes

I forgot to mention this last week, but one tidbit before I head into my usual posting schedule. For those of you who aren’t aware, I just wanted to point out that Fast Retailing is certainly living up to their name. Uniqlo has been spewing new product lines like models spew breakfast. Not long after they wrapped up their Jil Sander line, they recently announced a the release of a collection of shoes that range between 2000 yen and 5000 yen. So what’s next handbags? Perfume? Where does it end?

uniqlo shoes (2)uniqlo shoes (4)uniqlo shoes (5)uniqlo shoes (3)
uniqlo shoesuniqlo shoes (6)uniqlo shoes (7)uniqlo shoes (8)

Uniqlo announces Jil Sander line

September 28, 2009   Comments Off

f,l,o,w,e,r,s flower ruler

Sorry about the confusing title. I really have no excuse.
So, perhaps the single most beautiful piece of stationery I have ever come across is finally available for purchase. f,l,o,w,e,r,s (16,800 yen) by Norihiko Terayama of Studio Note is an acrylic ruler with embedded real flowers that are “blossoming” at exactly 1cm intervals. Each flower was hand-picked and dried by the designer, therefore making each ruler unique. Absolutely stunning. You can purchase it in Japan or abroad.





September 25, 2009   7 Comments

Kotori Mobile by passkey design

Here’s another great find from kami no kousakujo, and a fun little project for you and your toddler. The Kotori Mobile (1,260 yen) is  a paper mobile (even the string is made from paper) that you assemble yourself and is a great way to learn about the concept of balance. Your order will come with 2 sets but the mobile is infinitely customizable. You can add as many sets as you like and because it’s made from paper you can even draw pictures on it, like a forest for your kotori (baby birds) to live in.

It was designed by passkey design, who you may be familiar with via their animal rubber bands.

kotori mobile  1
kotori mobile  2
kotori mobile  3

September 25, 2009   1 Comment

address tray by andesign

address tray 1
The address tray is a super-stylish address book that doubles as a pen tray for your desk. And it’s really making me want to sit down and copy all my contacts from my computer onto paper. In fact, the design team, andesign (and + design, because “the word ‘and’ connects everything”) talks about their objective as wanting to reignite interest in the romantic qualities of handwriting. Each address sheet can be pulled out and then reinserted. The tray comes in 2 sizes, short (1,470 yen) and long (1,890 yen).

They are sold at Kami no kousakujo (paper factory), a great store I frequent for their craft objects made out of only paper.
address tray 2
address tray 3address tray 4

September 24, 2009   Comments Off

Terashima Design Poster Exhibition

Masayuki Terashima of Terashima Design, a graphic design firm based out of Hokkaido, is holding an online exhibition of his favorite in-house designed posters. And I must say, I was blown away. Such scrumptious eye candy. But hurry! The online exhibition is over at the end of the month!

(click to enlarge)
left: Ultimate Weapon by Masayuki Terashima
right: Parsley (vector ornaments) by Shinya Kawamoto
terashima poster exhibition (2) terashima poster exhibition (3)

left: FONT organic body by Shinya Kawamoto
right: Daikon and Apple Jam by Kenichi Sato
terashima poster exhibition (4) terashima poster exhibition

Find out how to create a very attractive poster for special occasions.

September 23, 2009   3 Comments

Dolmen Portable Folding Chair

The Dolmen Portable Folding Chair (1000 yen) is the world’s lightest chair, and the first paper chair ever to be commercialized. Weighing just 360 grams (0.8 lbs) and collapsing to the width of a book, it fits right into your bag. It employs a honeycomb structure that can support the weight of just about anyone. I would imagine it would be helpful on camping trips or other outdoor outings. They say it can last a lifetime “if used gently.” I wonder what they mean by that…
dolmen portable chair 1
dolmen portable chair 2
dolmen portable chair 3
dolmen portable chair 4
found on idsite

September 23, 2009   2 Comments

Nagai Garou by Ryue Nishizawa

nagai garou1
(image courtesy of Nagai Garou)

Holy hallucinatory awesomeness. I love this idea. Architect Ryue Nishizawa (of SANAA) designed the front window of Nagai Garou, a painting gallery in Tokyo, to include a bulging belly on the inside. It was in commemoration of Nagai Garou’s new gallery space in Ginza, which opened earlier this month. An ominous-looking vortex on a storefront would easily make me walk into any store.

nagai garou outside
(image courtesy of kurakichi-san)

via 野良犬のケンチク彷徨記

September 22, 2009   Comments Off

mottainai umbrellas

mottainai kasa
(↑ this is an awesome visual, by the way)

Over the summer the Mottainai project launched mottainai umbrella (perhaps to coincide with the rainy season), a movement to increase awareness about the waste generated by cheap almost-disposable umbrellas. Here are some staggering facts. Did you know that at about 130  million per year Japan is the number 1 disposer of umbrellas? (Source: Japan Umbrella Promotion Association… no kidding. There really is such an organization.) That’s more than the entire country’s population! And 90% of these are made up by the ubiquitous clear-plastic umbrellas that are imported from China and sold for about 500 yen a pop. I’ve even seen them sold at 100 yen shops.

Where do these umbrellas end up, you ask? Usually left on a train or just thrown away because they break so easily.

Anyway, one of the features of the project was that they enlisted several designers and TV personalities to design umbrellas in order to promote the use of long-lasting sturdy umbrellas instead of the cheap, crappy ones. Along with all their other activities, all profits are being donated to the Green Belt Movement.

earth umbrellafrog umbrella
umbrella tree

Clockwise starting with the top left, “Earth Umbrella” is the official mottainai campain umbrella. “When it rain the frogs come out” by illustrator Jun Miura , and “Tree Umbrella” by artist Hiro Sugiyama and creative director Michihiko Yanai. You can check out the full lineup here.

If you would like to know more about the mottainai project, I did a post on them a while back.

September 21, 2009   Comments Off