japanese art, design and culture
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Posts from — November 2010

Fashion Meets Technology in the New Issey Miyake store designed by Tokujin Yoshioka


click images to enlarge | Photos © Yoshinaga Yasuaki

Issey Miyake is no stranger to technology. He has made a name for himself both in Japan and across the globe for his monochromatic shapes that fuse high-tech engineering processes with ancient forms of kimono structure and hand-loomed fabrics.

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that his latest store, which opened on November 26th in the Minami Aoyama district of Tokyo – solely dedicated to his new “132 5. ISSEY MIYAKE” line of clothing  – is a total embodiment and amalgamation of everything he has attempted to achieve up until now.

Co-developed by Reality Lab, a team of computer scientists and engineers led by Manabu Kikuchi (textile engineer) and Sachiko Yamamoto (Pattern Engineer), the new line of clothing shares many of the same principles that a children’s pop-up book have. Beginning with two-dimensional shapes, a series of incisions and folds allow the flat pattern to expand into  3-dimensional garments. (see below – click to enlarge)

Photos © Hiroshi Iwasaki

They were inspired by the work of computer scientist Jun Mitani, namely his Spherical Origami series.

The store itself, which was designed by Tokujin Yoshioka, features transparent mannequin torsos suspended from the ceiling. Each mannequin is adorned with one of the garments and accompanied by a flattened version of the garment AND an interactive iPad, which visually communicates the process in which the flattened shape emerges as a 3-dimensional objects of fashion. Yoshioka describes his design as an attempt to escape from superficial interiors and engage in a process of  designing a new way of selling items.

A related exhibition, “Reality Lab,” is currently on display at 21_21 Design Sight through 12/26.

Related:

Fashion Meets Technology in the New Issey Miyake store designed by Tokujin Yoshioka

Issey Miyake is no stranger to technology. He has made a name for himself both in Japan and across the globe for his monochromatic shapes that fuse high-tech engineering processes with ancient forms of kimono structure and hand-loomed fabrics. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that his latest store, which opened on November 26th in the Minami Aoyama district of Tokyo – solely dedicated to his new “132 5. ISSEY MIYAKE” line of clothing– is a total embodiment and amalgamation of everything he has attempted to achieve up until now.

Co-developed by Reality Lab, a team of computer scientists and engineers led by Manabu Kikuchi (textile engineer) and Sachiko Yamamoto (Pattern Engineer), the new line of clothing shares many of the same principles that a children’s pop-up book have. Beginning with two-dimensional shapes, a series of incisions and folds allow the flat pattern to expand into 3-dimensional garments. They were inspired by the work of computer scientist Jun Mitani, namely his Spherical Origami series.

The store itself, which was designed my Tokujin Yoshioka, features transparent mannequin torsos suspended from the ceiling. Each mannequin is adorned with one of the garments and accompanied by a flattened version of the garment and an interactive iPad, which visually communicates the process in which the flattened shape emerges as a 3-dimensional objects of fashion. Yoshioka describes his design as an attempt to escape from superficial interiors and engage in a process of designing a new way of selling items.

A related exhibition, “Reality Lab,” is currently on display at 21_21 Design Sight through 12/26.

November 30, 2010   Comments Off

Nest Desk by Oji Masanori


click images to enlarge

Designer Oji Masanori’s latest creation is Nest Desk, a set of 3 beautifully crafted wooden desks. They are the latest installment of his Otomo series, which he collaborated on with furniture manufacturer Toa Ringyo. As evidenced by his previous design, Baby In Table (which I still lust over), the designer certainly has a flair for creating sustainable, evolving furniture that adapts to the needs of a growing family.


The small desk can be used for reading or eating, up until around age 4….


…at which point the mid-size kicks in and the two function as a desk and chair through elementary school.


From middle school and onward the large and mid-size work together as a desk.

Nest Desk was recently on display at the IFFT show which ran from Nov. 24 – 26th.

Related:

November 29, 2010   Comments Off

Naoto Fukasawa | Hiroshima Series for Maruni


click images to enlarge

Gasp! Be still my beating heart. Iconic industrial designer Naoto Fukasawa has designed a series of tables and chairs for Japanese furniture company Maruni. And of course each piece is more exquisite then the next. First are 2 shots of the 2009 collection, a lounge chair, a side table, and three variations of sofas,
constructed with beech and oak wood.

And here is the 2010 collection, which includes an adorable small table and new flanno fabric (from Denmark – fancy) used to upholster the seating pieces.

source: company press release

November 28, 2010   Comments Off

Japan’s Hit Products of 2010

Another year another trend. Time to look back on Japan’s best products of 2010 according to ad agency Dentsu. As it was last year, the selection is based on 4 major categories, sales, ingenuity, market-creation and influence.

1. Smartphones

Making a huge leap from 34th place last year into 1st place were smartphones. Apple’s iPhone 4, which was released in mid-2010, was the primary contender in this category. But Android-based smartphones like Xperia also kept pace.

2. Twitter

During 2010, Twitter surpassed Mixi in Japan, becoming the country’s most widely-used social networking service.

3. Edible Rayu (chili oil)

Previously a niche product whose sole usage was a condiment used in gyoza sauce, Rayu was reincarnated into a spoonable consistency by Momoya, who released  “It looks spicy but isn’t too spicy but is a bit spicy” in 2009. The real excitement happened in March of 2010 when SB Foods released a copycat product called “Pour it on! Main dish rayu, a bit spicy.” Edible rayu went viral, selling out in supermarkets across the country.

4. Chideji (digital terrestial broadcasting) Wide Screen Flat Panel TVs

When Japan announced they were switching over to digital television and eliminating all analog service, Japan’s tech-saavy consumers took the only reasonable next step: going out and buying the biggest, thinnest digital TV they could find. (Actually, all you needed was a tuner that costs about 8,000 yen.)

5. Sakamoto Ryoma

Sakamoto Ryoma was a leader of the movement to overthrow the Tokugawa shogunate during the Bakumatsu period (1852-1869). But I’m sure he never would have guessed that 150 years later he would become the central figure of NHK’s year-long historical fiction television series “Ryomaden,” igniting Sakamoto Ryoma fever across Japan. Companies were quick to try and capitalize on the historic figure’s new-found fame launching products such as Sakamoto Ryoma beer and coffee.

6. Haneda Airport New International Terminal

A third terminal for international flights was completed in October 2010.

7. Tokyo Sky Tree

Designed to be the new tower for terrestrial digital broadcasting throughout greater Tokyo (see #4), and replacing the venerable Tokyo Tower, the Sky Tree, when completed in 2012, will become the world’s tallest broadcast tower. It will also have public observation decks and will be lit up every other night with different sets of lights.

8. Eco Points

Announced by the government as part of an economic stimulus package, the Eco-Point system gives consumers points that can be redeemed for a range of goods when they purchase eco-friendly appliances. Originally announced in mid-2009, the program was extended through the end of 2010. The program was well-received and helped provide a boost to several industries including the LED lighting industry (see#10).

9. South Africa World Cup

Held between June and July of 2010 in South Africa, Japan reached the knockout stages of the FIFA World Cup, drawing worldwide praise and attention. The star of the team was, without a doubt, Keisuke Honda, who scored two goals and helped his team rise from 45 to 32 in FIFA’s international rankings.

10. LED Light Bulbs

LED light bulbs… what more can I say?

source: Dentsu (PDF)

November 28, 2010   Comments Off

Under the tree of totoro by mA-style


click images to enlarge

I couldn’t help myself. I have a weakness for all things Totoro. Here is another project by mA-style, completed in early 2010. If we learned anything about the way they work from their Riverbank House, it was that the architects – Atsushi and Mayumi Kawamoto – are often inspired by the local ecosystem and all the particular elements that come together to form it.

Upon inspection of the site and its surroundings in Shizuoka prefecture, the architects were intrigued by the nostalgia of the small village, which lay at the bottom of a ravine. On top of a hill was a peculiarly large tree, gently overlooking the houses. Firmly planted amongst the roots of the tree was an old Shinto shrine. (Whoever has seen the movie should have a picturesque image in their minds by now.)

The architects were inspired by the regal self assurance of the village, knowing that she is held securely in the palm of her surroundings.

Earlier this week it was announced that “Under the tree of totoro” had won the 42nd (2010) Chubu Architecture Award. Congratulations to mA-Style Architects!

Within that context, the value of simply designing convenience and functionality to be subsequently inserted into society was brought into question. Instead of creating an environment draped in seclusion the architects felt the need to allow the region’s climate, or way of being, to enter freely into the design. It was living, without limitations. It was habitat that, at its core, could be felt, touched and enjoyed.

(PS It’s probably the way the photos were taken, but doesn’t this home look like a dollhouse?)

Related:

November 24, 2010   1 Comment

Meisa Kuroki, among others, recipient of gorgeous paper trophy



Meisa Kuroki accepts her trophy | image © Haruka Nakagawa

Yesterday Vogue Nippon held it’s annual Women of the Year ceremony at the Grand Hyatt Hotel. The event, which logged its 6th year, commemorates 8 women in Japan who had a spectacular year. The recipients for 2010 were:

However, it wasn’t the women who caught my eye (that’s a lie) but the unique trophy that was presented to the recipients. Consistent with the traditional ball-shaped design, this year’s trophy is a stunning piece designed by architect Ryuji Nakamura.


click images to enlarge | images © ryuji nakamura & associates

Looks light as paper right? That’s because the “bouquet” is made from paper.

Ryuji Nakamura has had quite a year himself, including creating an installation for Design Tide Tokyo, participating in the Or-Ita Exhibition, the Llove Hotel Exhibition, the Earth: Materials for Design exhibition, the Where is Architecture exhibition and creating a special inclusion for Wallpaper magazine. And if he wasn’t a dude, he’d be right up on stage accepting one of those beauties.

November 23, 2010   3 Comments

Riverbank House by mA-style


click images to enlarge

Atsushi and Mayumi Kawamoto are the force behind mA-style, a design and architecture  firm based out of Shizuoka prefecture. Their latest project, completed in September 2010 is Kawabe no Sumika, or Riverbank House.

Located on a narrow strip of land, sandwiched between a quiet riverbank and a residential neighborhood, the home’s unique form was inspired by the juxtaposed views offered by the surrounding environment. Standing on the riverbank you had views of the calm stream traveling to an unknown destination, unfazed by the birds, joggers and other small life form taking advantage of its natural serenity. However, a few steps down the bank, away from the river, revealed a startlingly contrasting view; homes and more homes, so grounded and monumental.

The completed home is a perfect isosceles triangle which, by definition, consists of 2 even sides. However, as the photos accurately portray, there is nothing even about them. One side of the triangle – the side facing the neighboring houses – does not have a single window, opening or slit except for the door. Because there was no need. The opposite side could not be more revealing. Each room is accompanied by large windows that open up to the environment around it.

The living room and dining room, places where one might entertain guests, are located on the second floor. The private quarters are located on the ground level.

Each side of the home, with its minimal, smooth surface on one side and its relatively complex set of shapes and openings on the other, are like a reflection of each opposing environment – the residential neighborhood and the serene stream.

The home is a true meditation on site-specific architecture and how one comes to terms with the immovable.

November 23, 2010   1 Comment

KEAT by Koji Yano


click to enlarge

Koji Yano of 83Design‘s latest creation is KEAT, an awesome little character who only shows its true emotions when a key is inserted into its mouth. The key-holder, which is made from rubber, can go on a wall, a refrigerator or pretty much anywhere.

I have a “few” other objects that dangle from my keys so I’m not sure how well they would hold up, but it’s such a cute idea!

KEAT will go on sale across Japan beginning mid-November.

November 22, 2010   1 Comment

A lamp that looks like a tent with a lamp inside it

Kenji Ito and Takahiro Umino of design unit MUTE have created this lamp that attempts to emulate the warmth emitted by a camping tent.


I’ve recently been in love with small design with big possibility. Such as this glass globe.


In the case of “tent,”  I love how one could easily imagine an entire world within. It plays off ones sense of physical and imaginary warmth. It reminds me of something out of Moomin, the Swedish characters. I used to watch the animated series as a child in Japan (the Japanese love Moomin).

November 22, 2010   Comments Off

New Images from Sendagaya House


click to enlarge | image courtesy General Design

After posting images of Sendagaya House back in September, I was surprised (and excited) to get an email from Ruth Thomas, who runs Toringa Projects, an interior design firm based in Tokyo. Ruth had worked with the owners of the home to furnish the interiors upon completion and was kind enough to send us scans of the completed project.

I was blown away by the stunning results! It was especially fun to compare with the bare walls of the home I had originally posted. If you missed the project, check it out HERE and then continue on for the finished home.

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November 18, 2010   2 Comments