japanese art, design and culture

Posts from — October 2012

Living with kids and pets | cotoinu cotoneko exhibition

exhibition images courtesy excite-ism | click to enlarge

It’s impossible to cover all the many satellite exhibitions going on in Tokyo this week but one that caught my eye was this cotoinu cotoneko exhibition that showcases a new line of pet-inspired stationary and small goods for both kids and adults. The walls of the exhibition space are lined with over 200 mini houses that resemble cats and dogs. And within the space are a host of new products that epitomize the joys of living with kids and pets. How cute is that doggy calendar!

It takes place at dogdeco on the 6th floor of Isetan Shinjuku department store.

product images courtesy caro | click to enlarge

this post is part of a series covering the design festivities (Tokyo Designer’s Week and DesigTide Tokyo) taking place through Nov. 4. Full coverage can be found right here.

October 31, 2012   Comments Off

ID Band for Tokyo Designers Week 2012

A-Study and 1Pac.Inc have collaborated on an installation and interactive exhibition at Tokyo Designers Week. They designed unique silicon wrist bands with a grid of holes that lets you customize your band. In addition, a little game will be played (on 11/3) where visitors who find a partner with an identical wristband will receive a prize. In essence, it’s an exercise in analog meet-ups in a time and age when so much of our networking is done online.

You can find out more information on their facebook page.


source: a-study

this post is part of a series covering the design festivities (Tokyo Designer’s Week and DesigTide Tokyo) taking place through Nov. 4. Full coverage can be found right here.

October 31, 2012   Comments Off

DesignTide Focus: Drill Design

Paper-wood Horse (2011) | click images to enlarge

TIDE Focus is an exhibition curated by the DesignTide committee. This year they will survey the work of Yusuke Hayashi and Yoko Yasunishi, more commonly known as Drill Design. The design duo are known primarily for their product design, but also for their creative direction and, more recently, an independently-developed material known as Paperwood.

The exhibition, which features their most latest products, runs till the end of DesignTide (Nov. 4) and is happening at Tokyo Midtown Hall (Gmap).

TOTE (2012). A bookshelf made from a single block of wood and a single piece of stainless steel, crafted to resemble the handle of a tote bag | click to enlarge


Paper-wood Bench (2011) | click to enlarge


Hang Bag (2012). A chair designed for public spaces where people are inclined to hang things like bags and coats | click to enlarge

this post is part of a series covering the design festivities (Tokyo Designer’s Week and DesigTide Tokyo) taking place through Nov. 4. Full coverage can be found right here.

October 30, 2012   Comments Off

a giant pop-up jungle gym emerges in Tokyo Midtown

images courtesy exite-ism | click to enlarge

A giant jungle gym aptly titled “mountain gym” has emerged on the large patio in front of Tokyo Midtown. Part of Design Touch 2012, an extension of DesignTide Tokyo, the large structure was designed by architect Makoto Tanijiri and functions as a playground for kids and adults during the day, while transforming into a lit-up sculpture at night. It was made entirely out of wood which, according to Tanijiri, will be reincarnated into a 2nd life after the exhibition closes on November 4.

If you’ll recall, a large picnic table occupied this space last year.

below photos by Makoto Tanijiri | click to enlarge

this post is part of a series covering the design festivities (Tokyo Designer’s Week and DesigTide Tokyo) taking place through Nov. 4. Full coverage can be found right here.

October 30, 2012   Comments Off

TOTO Launches Toilet Soccer Goalie

It’s been a little over a year since TOTO launched their toilet motorcycle that traveled Japan entirely on shit biogas. Now Japan’s largest maker of toiletries is back with their antics. They’ve devised a toilet soccer goalie that can block shots hurled by some of the greatest soccer players in the world.

How exactly does it do this? Two high-speed cameras placed on the goal posts capture, analyze and predict the final destination of the ball in under 0.1 seconds. It then adjusts its position and a powerful spring thrusts a ball out of the toilet bowl, making contact with, and deflecting, the original soccer ball. The toilet can apparently process and react to balls shot at as fast as 160 km/hr (about 100 mph). Seriously. Watch the video:

Why exactly does it do this? Well, I’m not entirely sure. It’s partly to promote their athletic grants. It also demonstrate the technology and research that goes into developing their toilets. But beyond that…

2 high-speed 250 FPS cameras capture, analyze and predict the ball’s trajectory

a ball is inserted into a powerful spring system within the toilet bowl

The toilet, dubbed S.G.T.K (Super Great Toilet Keeper), is not invincible. In 2007 the Guardian compiled an unofficial list of thunderous shots. Coming in first was Sheffield Wednesday striker David Hirst, with a shot recorded at 114 mph. David Beckham came in second place with 97.9 mph.

S.G.T.K was developed with the help of Creative Director & Engineer Hiroki Nakamura, who also worked on TOTO’s toilet bike.

S.G.T.K will travel around to various soccer stadiums in Japan before being unleashed into the wild. For 600K yen (about $7,500) S.G.T.K will come to your soccer field where players will be able to take the challenge. No, you cannot use it as a portable restroom.

Source: @nakamurahiroki

October 28, 2012   Comments Off

Tokyo Designers Week 2012: PechaKucha Night

Next week is big for Japanese design. There’s TDW (Tokyo Designers Week) and DesignTide Tokyo, pretty much running side-by-side. There’s also a whole bunch of satellite events happening. As usual, we’ll be doing our best to cover the best of the best.

Kicking off our coverage is a very special edition of PechaKucha Night, taking place on October 31 at the TDW DOME (Meiji-Jingu Gaien). Often described as the world’s largest physical social network, the event will present speakers making presentations in signature format – 20 images x 20 seconds. From well-known graphic designer Taku Satoh to a young food creator, a contemporary jewelry designer, a ‘red beans’ artist, and an architect who is drawing a future masterplan for villages in Tohoku, there’s guaranteed to be something for everybody.

It’s still early but you can follow all our coverage of TDW and DesignTide HERE.

October 26, 2012   Comments Off

Yu Yamauchi spent 600 days on Mt. Fuji photographing sunrises

10,000 feet above sea – five months straight – four years in a row. For 600 days Yu Yamauchi lived in a hut near the summit of Mt. Fuji, getting up while it was still dark to photograph the sunrise every day, from the same location. The resulting series, titled “DAWN,” is a stunning look at the colorful, sometimes abstract view of Earth waking up.

This space, “above the clouds,” exists far from the ground where we live our daily lives. It is also a space between the earth and the universe. Being there simply reminds me of the fact that we live on the earth which is a planet within an infinite space of the universe.

What’s perhaps most striking about the series is the variability. Not a single picture looks the same. And yet, each day the sun, rising from the same spot, repeats itself.

I met Yu at Tatzu Nishi’s artist talk last night. “DAWN” is the first major U.S. exhibition for the 35-year old artist. The series is on display at Miyako Yoshinaga gallery in New York through November 21, 2012.

October 25, 2012   1 Comment

Tatzu Nishi at the Nippon Club

Last night I attended a small, intimate talk by Tatzu Nishi at the Nippon Club. In case you haven’t heard of him, you should check out his current project. I had never heard him speak so I was delighted, yet not all that surprised, to learn how brutally honest and funny the man is.

We were treated to numerous insider stories and behind-the-scenes incidents, giving us an enlightened view into what it actually takes to install his large-scale public art projects. I wish I could share them all but that would result in an incredibly long post so here is 1 episode that, for reasons uncertain even to myself, really stuck with me.

In 2006, Nishi created an installation for the Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art titled “sometimes extraordinary, sometimes less than common.” The piece incorporated the museum’s most expensive artwork – a Picasso from his blue period valued around $40 million – and encased it in a typical middle class Japanese kitchen. The original concept was to demonstrate that, when an extraordinary work of art with historical significance is placed in common setting it maintains its aura.

But to Nishi’s surprise, when the room was complete and staff replaced the color copy with the original painting, it was wiped clean of any aura. In fact, when visitors entered the room many of them didn’t even notice the Picasso. Instead, they were impressed by the replica of the kitchen. At the last minute, Nishi decided to change the name of the piece to something more fitting, hence the current title.

And convincing the museum staff to was no easy feat either. Their most prized possession was suddenly going to be placed next to a rice cooker, a bottle of soy sauce, and a carton of cheap sake – all items that have the potential to easily ruin a painting. Nishi finally convinced them by promising to mount every single item to its surface. This way no one would be able to lift the kettle, or any other item for that matter, and swing it at the painting in some drunken stupor.

However, no one on the team had calculated how long it would take to mount everything and, low and behold, they ran out of time. But instead of making a big deal over it, they just said nothing, crossed their fingers, and hoped that the exhibition would run smoothly without incident. Luckily for them, it did.

The ordeal underlines one of the main takeaways of the talk – how difficult it is to implement public art in Japan. Based on Nishi’s own experience, Japan is by far the most difficult country to get public art projects approved. England tails behind at 2nd, but with a huge margin. And yet “Japan needs public art the most,” Nishi argued. But they’re just not interested in doing anything different, anything beyond their call of duty.

(special thanks to kosuke for getting me in!)

October 25, 2012   1 Comment

Sun Rising Lamp by Satoshi Itasaka

photos by Elli | click to enlarge

Satoshi Itasaka, the designer behind the ingenious balloon bench, has unveiled his latest project. Sun Rising Lamp is exactly what the name would suggest: a lamp that recreates the optimism of seeing a sunrise. “Every day starts with a sunrise,” says Itasaka. “I believe that if people have this same feeling every day when the sun rises, the world will become a much more peaceful place.”

It’s so easy to get caught up in daily life. Days blend into week, which blend into months and before you know it, time has passed you by. Itasaka believes that a small change in behavior, such as being conscious of a new day and a new you, can make days more fulfilling and, hence, more meaningful.

Itasaka’s new design will be on display at Beams Gallery as part of Itasaka’s exhibition “Place of The Rising Sun” (10.27.2012 – 11.15).

source: mocoloco

October 25, 2012   Comments Off

kyary pamyu pamyu’s Halloween music video is all kinds of awesome

Japan’s in vogue pop princess kyary pamyu pamyu (often dubbed the Lady Gaga of Japan) released a new single last week and it’s all kinds of Halloween-inspired awesome. “Fashion Monster” as a track itself isn’t bad and the styling is fantastic. I’m especially liking her hairdo (above).

And kyary is certainly capitalizing one her new video. She’s teamed up with g.u. (UNIQLO’s cheaper sibling) to do an ad spot. She’s also released a bundle of cell-phone wallpapers and ringtones that you can get through mu-mo.

October 24, 2012   3 Comments