japanese art, design and culture

Posts from — May 2011


Japanese cell phone provider KDDI’s artsy offshoot brand iida (innovation, imagination, design, art) has been courting Japan’s design-conscious consumers since 2009 with their designer and artist collaborations. One of my favorite things that has come out of the concept are the accessories, namely, their efforts to make wiring less ugly.

On that front, their latest product is AC Adapter WORLD OF ALICE (2,200 yen), a power adapter embedded with its own little wonderland story. It was designed by Kento Imamura and Nozomi Miyatake, two young graduate school designers at Osaka City University. And while the last thing us parents want are toddler-enticing electric cables, I commend their efforts in trying to eliminate all the junk out there people buy to hide their cords.

A cord organizer from last year

AC Adapter MIDORI from 2009

source: swissmiss | gigazine | this old post

May 16, 2011   Comments Off

Tapehook by torafu

click images to enlarge

We first showed Torafu’s tapehook while taking a look at the paper tools exhibition (which is still on, by the way!) But the designer duo (Koichi Suzuno and Shinya Kamura) recently uploaded a new batch of images so I thought it was worth revisiting.

Inspired by the way tape curls up, tapehook was created specifically for the exhibition. What’s fascinating about the product is its strength versus its perceived flimsiness. I can’t believe it was made simply from being immersed in water and then dried.

photos by Fuminari Yoshitsugu and Hideaki Okura

source: this old post | twitter | torafu


House In Ookayama by Torafu Architects

May 12, 2011   Comments Off

Musashino Art University Library by Sou Fujimoto

photos by Edmund Sumner | click to enlarge

Wow. Students at the prestigious Musashino Art University (Musabi) are in for a treat. The just got a gorgeous new library designed by Sou Fujimoto. The massive 2-story library is made entirely of timber shelving, which is covered by planes of glass. Even the hallways emerge from apertures cut-out of the shelving.

Bookshelves that actually dictate the form of the library is, in some ways, a library distilled down to its most basic essence. Lovely!

Fancy library or not, students will still fall asleep in them! ↑↑

Source: Dezeen

May 12, 2011   Comments Off

+green by sinato

Architect Chikara Ohno, who heads up the Tokyo-based architecture and interior design studio sinato, recently completed +green, an organic restaurant in Komazawa. +green (pronounced “and green”) opened their doors to the public on April 1, 2011.

photos by Toshiyuki Yano | click to enlarge

As you enter the restaurant you pass through the open terrace for outdoor seating, a deli/café for takeout orders and an organic grocery store, all on the ground level. Restaurant seating is located a level below and is defined by a warm, natural brick façade with natural light flowing into the space. I like how it serves as a contrast to the stark, white walls of the ground level, while still feeling connected via the open floor-plan and skylight. If you’re in the area, check it out!

Source: architecturephoto | +green

May 12, 2011   Comments Off

Beautiful Storage | Casa Brutus June 2011

I was thrilled to see the cover of the latest Casa Brutus (on sale 5.10.2011). Are those stairs or an intricate storage solution? Wow. I’m going to try and hit up Kinokuniya later this week for a copy.

click images to enlarge

source: twitter | casa brutus

May 11, 2011   1 Comment

Pixelated Fashion | Anrealage’s 2011-2012 A/W Collection

Conceptual Japanese fashion designer Kunihiko Morinaga, who is better known as ANREALAGE – a combination of the words “real, unreal and age” – debuted his 2011-12 Autumn/Winter collection in Tokyo during April, roughly 1 month after the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Last year, which marked his first showing in 3 years, he chose to rethink the entire form of the human body. This year Morinaga transitioned from the world of 3D to 2D and titled his collection “LOW,” a reference to the low-resolution 8-bit imagery that is so effective at deconstructing form.

In fact, the designer writes that prior to the earthquake he was interested in how low resolution destroys all shape and form. However, post-earthquake, this concept took a 180 degree turn as the designer became more aware of how both shape and pattern, even when deconstructed, strive to maintain their original form. The farther it’s removed the greater the original form is evoked.

Photos by Fashionsnap.com | click to enlarge

photo by changefashion.net

As usual, I love Morinaga’s attention to detail. The pixilated faces totally make the show. I also can’t get enough of those shoes!

source: fashionsnap.com | designboom | anrealage

May 11, 2011   Comments Off

Framed* by Yugo Nakamura | a digital signage system for displaying artwork

This just rocketed to the top of my WANT list. Yogo Nakamura of interactive design agency tha, just last night unveiled his latest work. Equipped with an integrated computer, Framed* is, in essence, a digital picture frame… and then so much more. What’s intriguing is that this is not a new invention. We have digital picture frames and we have digital signs (this is somewhere in between) and yet it’s revolutionary -  a great example of how good design, when married with a clear concept, can result in a robust product. As evidenced by Apple, it’s not about who does it first but how they do it.

Framed* is capable of displaying a diverse selection of interactive art, web apps, motion graphics and illustrations. But perhaps most significant is the iPhone app that acts as a remote controller, allowing the user to either select and play art (either in person or away), or to control interactive pieces of art through the touchscreen.

I might have been a different person if this was around when I was in art school. But not only does Framed* have the potential to revolutionize the way artists and designers share their portfolios, I think it could also do for visual artists what the iPhone did for game developers. It could create a whole new market place for the buying and selling of art. In fact, currently artists are creating all types of art that will be available for you to purchase through the app.

I love the details of the site too, like the awesome domain name and this great animated gif.

source: twitter | tha

Wonderwall + Yugo Nakamura

May 9, 2011   Comments Off

DROW app lets you share images with the world

Much in the same way DJs select and manipulate sound, the DROW app – unveiled today – allows you to mix images on your iPhone and share them with the world via a livestream that can be accessed HERE. I just tried out the free app and it’s really fun. I drew my kitty, Mimi and then watched her dance to the music.

Although I do wish it wasn’t limited to a single stroke, it does force you to be creative and probably cuts back on attempts to broadcast offensive imagery.

It was created by Masashi Kawamura, who, in the West, is perhaps most well known for his music videos. The list goes on, but other contributors to the project include Qanta Shimizu (remember setsudener?) and Zach Lieberman.

source: twitter

May 9, 2011   Comments Off

experimental musician Ichi plays in a public bathhouse

I just discovered the Japanese experimental musician Ichi. Taking full advantage of its acoustic qualities, in the video below Ichi performs live in a sento (publich bathhouse). The action takes place amid the eye-catching  décor of a bathhouse while an anachronistic performer uses everything from chime-equipped stilts, steel-drums with ping-pong balls and glockenspiels all accentuated by tape-loops.

Emerald House (performed in a public sento)

Ichi | Myspace Music Videos

Ichi is also a 20-year long member of the Nagoya new-wave band Nohshinto, has toured extensively as a solo artist in Japan, and has played with Shugo Tokumaru. Earlier this year he played with Deerhoof in NYC. You can hear more of his tracks on his myspace page.

source: twitter | myspace

May 6, 2011   Comments Off

Spring Day by Kensaku Oshiro

This simple valet called “Spring Day” crated for Busso by Kensaku Oshiro, an Okinawan transplant now living in Milan. Kensaku has taken part in several exhibitions including Salone Satellite in Milan, Tokyo Designers Week, New Design Generation in China and has won prestigious awards: Elle Décor France – Young Talent of the Year (2006), Red Dot Design Award (2008), IF Design Award (2009).  See more of his work at: www.kensakuoshiro.com.

Visit Busso’s site to see the rest of their furniture collection, all  ”clean, straightforward design whose excellent finishing enjoys high regard.” You can also purchase pieces on their E-store (US only) at: shopbussolari.mybigcommerce.com

May 5, 2011   Comments Off