japanese art, design and culture
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Posts from — December 2009

Top posts of 2009 – No. 1 | Vine Cell Charger or AC Adapter Midori

And without further ado, we give you the most popular post of 2009 on Spoon & Tamago – Vine cell charger. Published all the way back on February 4, 2009, we featured the latest creation by Shunsuke Umiyama of Microworks. We are huge fans of Mr. Umiyama’s work and as a result he is no stranger on this site. We also like checking out his wardrobe, which often stands out more than his designs. (photo courtesy of nosigner).

Anyway, at the time “Vine” was only a conceptual piece with no plans for commercialization. But 2 months later in April KDDI announced that they were renaming it AC Adapter Midori and releasing it as part of an accessory kit. We followed up with a post HERE. What we really loved about this design was that it proposes a very simple solution to a modern-day interior design problem. People are always trying to hide their electrical cords and there is no shortage of chotchkies to aid us in this quest. But in the end, we are just buying more junk we don’t need. The notion that all we have to do is beautify the ugly was so novel and so nonexistent, it was truly a splash of water in the face for us and hopefully for our generation.

December 30, 2009   9 Comments

Top posts of 2009 – No. 2 | AWA by nosigner

The 2nd most popular post of 2009 on Spoon & Tamago was AWA by nosigner, published on April 27, 2009. You saw it here first. The line of furniture was developed in collaboration with the Tokushima Wood-Bamboo Workers Association and originally showcased at the boutique hotel CLASKA in April. Over 6 months later the pieces made their way to Design Tide Tokyo where they caught the attention of the larger design community.

Triangle / Square / Rhombus (2,000 – 5,000 yen)

Hex (200,600 yen)

Squares (450,000 yen)

December 30, 2009   2 Comments

Top posts of 2009 – No. 3 | Black Hall by Terada Design

Coming in at number 3 was Black Hall by Terada Design, published on April 15, 2009. Unveiled during the month, Black Hall was designed to be the new addition to the Senzoku College of Music, a musically-forward school with the first ever jazz-major in Japan. Contrary to its name, the school demonstrated that they were not afraid of a few splashes of psychedelic color.

December 29, 2009   5 Comments

Top posts of 2009 – No. 4 | Another Kind of Table

Coming in at number 4 was Another Kind of Table published on October 2, 2009. Toshinori Kamiya’s humorous attempt at creating the most literal interpretation of a table EVER, had me smiling.

December 29, 2009   5 Comments

Top posts of 2009 – No. 5 | Creative Director Kenjiro Sano

Coming in at number 5 is Creative Director Kenjiro Sano published on August 5, 2009. Also known as Mr. Design, he is a force to be reckoned with in the ad world, but some of my favorite work of his ends up being the product desings that he has put out at a much slower pace, inluding the recent wooden-shaped post its and the not-so-recent pig mugs.

December 28, 2009   4 Comments

Grass Roof House by Studio PRANA

One last home, I promise. And then I will get to our top posts of 2009. I’m like a toddler whose tantrum was being allowed to run its course, I know. But that’s what I love about having my own blog.

In my last post I fortuitously came across the architecture firm Studio PRANA, while searching for images of Terunobu Fujiyoshi’s new work. A bit of digging unearthed this awesome Grass Roof House, conveniently located in Musashino, Tokyo. (That’s where my parents live and where I spent 15 years of my life! Yay!)

How awesome would it be to pick fruit from your balcony and then climb up on to your roof and eat it while lying on grass. Doesn’t sound like Tokyo to me. The next time I go back I’m going on a treasure hunt for this home.


Goya fruit, also known as bitter melon (not my favorite) growing on the balcony. And steps leasing up to the grass roof!

December 28, 2009   6 Comments

Copper House/ Chocolate House by Terunobu Fujimori

Before we get started with the top posts of 2009, I have one final home I wanted to show you. Remember Terunobu Fujimori’s Takasugi-an Teahouse, which looked more like a tree house not for the faint-hearted than a zen tea house for the calm-hearted? The structure made considerable rounds in the blogosphere back in March (see here, here and here). I had been hearing rumors that his new work, Chocolate House, was near completion and had been trying to track down images. It turns out the name had changed and was originally titled Copper House. So here are some images, collected from different sources, of Mr. Fujimori’s latest tea house located in Kokubunji, Tokyo.

The theme of his latest work is “skin” and is lined with copper plates whose appearance, perhaps, later prompted the name change from copper to chocolate house. And of course it wouldn’t be a Fujimori home without one of his signature floating teahouses.


images courtesy of ModernLiving blog (Japanese)


Images courtesy of Studio Prana blog (Japanese)

December 28, 2009   3 Comments

New Work by Shigeru Ban |House at Hanegi Park and Ovaless House

Check out these 2 new projects from Japanese starchitect Shigeru Ban. Here in New York his name is synonymous with his Shutter House project in West Chelsea, his first condo to be built in the U.S. It received a ton of attention when it originally hit the wire back in 2007 (see here, here, here and here), and understandably so. The homes are beautiful. Back in his home town he has been working quietly on these 2 new residential projects. But don’t be fooled. They are not-at-all quiet in appearance.

HOUSE AT HANEGI PARK, Tokyo
shigeru ban house at hanegi park 1

shigeru ban house at hanegi park 2

OVALESS HOUSE, Fukushima, Japan

shigeru ban OVALESS HOUSE 2

shigeru ban OVALESS HOUSE 3

I can’t believe it’s already Christmas eve! I guess I’ll be off on Friday. But I’m really looking forward to next week when I plan to share the top Spoon & Tamago posts of 2009. It will be interesting to see if I am able to cohesivly wrap up and make sense of the year, or if it will end up being a flower-chain of chaotic mess. I wish everyone a happy holiday and hope you will join me next week for the last couple posts of 2009!

December 24, 2009   4 Comments

Pass The Baton by Wonderwall

wonderwall pass the baton (2)

How cool is this new shop in the Marunouchi area by Tokyo Station!? I was just in this area a few months ago but this shop must have still been under construction. Designed by interior design and architecture firm Wonderwall, Pass The Baton is a vintage shop that derives its name from the concept of passing things on from one generation to the next.

wonderwall pass the baton (3)

The whole store is beautifully decked out with antique furniture, recycled consumables and 2nd hand chotchkies. Take note of the custom-chandelier made out of recycled martinelli’s apple juice bottles pictured below. An awesome concept, magnificently executed. As of now this is the first and only shop but I expect to see more locations in the future.

wonderwall pass the baton (4)

wonderwall pass the baton (5)

wonderwall pass the baton (6)

wonderwall pass the baton (7) wonderwall pass the baton

December 23, 2009   Comments Off

Kokuyo Design Awards 2009

The Kokuyo Design Awards 2009 were just announced yesterday! In case you were wondering, the Kokuyo Design Awards is one of the largest and most anticipated design competitions in Japan. Hosted by stationary-giant Kokuyo since 2002, the competition has spawned popular products such as the kadokeshi eraser.

This year they received over 1,500 applications with the intent of selecting only 1 grand-prize winner that would be eventually commercialized and released to the public. The number of applications is up from 1,200 in 2008 but down from a high of 1,700 in 2007.  Using this as a gauge for popularity, they still tail the MUJI Awards, which boasts over 4,000 applications. (The Good Design Awards, which encompass a much larger scope, receive around 3000 applications) Interestingly enough, MUJI recently announced that it has canceled their awards this year. Perhaps it has something to do with the economy? I know what you are thinking. Enough rambling and get on with the results right? Right. One final thought… I wish they would provide more pictures/angles.

The grand prize went to Nao Asanuma for his Roots work table, which uses concave legs to create a sleek table that can peacefully coexist with computer cables.
kokuyo 2009 awards - roots by nao asanuma

Here are some of the ideas that took home the silver. Below is Kazunari Kodama`s Flower Tack. It is a simple idea that gives an utterly mundane object some much-needed attention to detail.
kokuyo awards 2009 - flower tack by kazunari kodama

This is probably my favorite. The Margins notebook by Shohei Ono, a communication design student at the Kyoto University of Art and Design. The reimagining of margins of a standard notebook completely blew my mind! The expansion of white space gets the imaginative juices flowing. I can come up with any number of new uses and suddenly have the urge to take notes in class.
kokuyo awards 2009 - yohaku by shohei ono

Black and White Graduation by Kaneko Hisahide is another great idea. By printing the numbers on a ruler in both black and white you eliminate the contrast problems encountered when working on multiple colored backgrounds.
kokuyo awards 2009 - black and white graduation by kaneko hisahide

I was also impressed by some of the honorable mentions, such as TO-GENKYO`s Eraser With a Core that fits around pencils. You may recall these designers as I profiled them a couple months ago with their Fresh Label.
kokuyo awards 2009 - eraser with a core by TO-GENKYO

Lastly is Primary Colors by Liu Zhi-Qiang and Ye Ming-Jie of the design unit DOUBLE. The pait pallette is an ingenious yet simple way to help kids learn about mixing colors. It is truly one of those designs the prompts the obvious question, why didn`t someone think of this before?
kokuyo awards 2009 - primary colors by DOUBLE

December 22, 2009   6 Comments