japanese art, design and culture

Category — Industrial Design

Playful Acrylic Rings by Pokefasu




Japanese designer Junichi Chiba works under the moniker pokefasu, a misspelling of the word “poker face.” But rather than correcting the error, Chiba embraced it and its absurdity, creating small everyday accessories that make you smile.

One of my favorite series are these playful acrylic rings. The Crown, Cloud and Heart rings can be worn both casually, or with style. We just recently started selling them in our shop ($24 each).

March 18, 2014   Comments Off

Trick-art on Twitter: Miniature objects cut-out from everyday magazines

This new Twitter trend proves once again the Japanese love for small things. From Japanese gardens to Nanoblocks, Japan has always been fond of miniature reproductions of real-life objects. This time, the Japanese Internet found a creative way to make cute miniature scenes simply by cutting their favorite objects from a magazine, and placing it in their hands:


Manga-artist Yukari Takinami led the new Trick-Art trend earlier this month with a collection of shrunken handbags. The author of the popular Ekoda-chan manga was quickly followed by the Japanese Twitter community, adopting the concept with everything from tiny people to miniature elephants.




 Source:  @takinamiyukari via @yuk_yk. Have a look at the Twitter hashtag #撮リックアート for more submissions.

March 18, 2014   Comments Off

Nendo designs Starbucks mugs with coffee graphics printed on back

nendo starbucks mug (1)

After creating a pop-up shop for the coffee giant back in 2012, design firm nendo has embarked on their 2nd collaboration with Starbucks, creating a series of mugs that will be sold at stores throughout Japan. A very simple trick creates a cool effect: the bottom of the mugs are realistically printed with graphics to create the illusion that they are brimming with hot coffee.

For 1,200 yen you can get either a latte, caramel macchiato or Americano that, even when drying or sitting upside down on a shelf, can remind you that your mug is always half full.

nendo starbucks mug (4)

nendo starbucks mug (2)

nendo starbucks mug (3)

source: press release

March 17, 2014   Comments Off

Prototype 1000 | prototypes of products we all wish existed

prototype 1000 (1)

A Honnoji Temple stove

Prototype 1000 is a site created by web designer Nezi Sato that functions as a database for all his crazy dream-like prototypes of products he wished existed. Some products seem like generally good ideas, while others are just outrageous or silly. But that’s perhaps what makes the site so interesting. Here a few of my favorites, which I genuinely wish existed.

prototype 1000 (3)

traffic cones shaped like spilled ice cream cones

Sato certainly has a vivid, playful imagination. His past projects include an app the gets kids interested in math by substituting boring exercises like counting crayons, with counting poop. He also created an Avian Flu twitter bot that randomly infects follows users and then unfollows them in about 5 days.

prototype 1000 (2)

a decotora USB drive

prototype 1000 (4)

a princess umbrella (my daughter would die if she saw this)

prototype 1000 (5)

a waterfall print towel

source: twitter

March 7, 2014   2 Comments

A water bottle made to look like a soy sauce container

soysauce thermos

Okay, this is one of the most-fun designs for a water bottle I’ve seen in quite a while. You know those miniature fish-shaped soy sauce containers? The ones that usually come in bento boxes and are occasionally used in art installations.

Well someone at Ehara, a maker of small toys and chotchkies came up with a thermos in the likeness of those soy sauce containers so it looks like you’re chugging the salty condiment. But don’t really put soy sauce in the 17 oz bottle because it could kill you. There’s even a case of soy sauce overdose-induced suicide. Instead, use tea or juice.

The thermos retails for around 800 yen but unfortunately seems to be out of stock.


soysauce thermos 2

soysauce thermos 3

soysauce thermos 4

source: @crystaline

March 5, 2014   3 Comments

Nendo’s Origami-Inspired Furniture for BoConcept

BoConcept Fusion by Nendo (1)

In what is their first collab with a Japanese design studio, Danish furniture retailer BoConcept has teamed up with nendo. At an event last week in New York, Oki Sato, who heads up the sought-after studio, was on site to introduce the origami-inspired line.

“Our objective was to add a distinct Japanese touch to the BoConcept collection,” said Sato, introducing his “fusion” line. It includes a sofa, chair, rug, tables, wall storage system and accessories. The collection will be hitting stores on April 1!

BoConcept Fusion by Nendo (2)

BoConcept Fusion by Nendo (7)

BoConcept Fusion by Nendo (6)

BoConcept Fusion by Nendo (5)

BoConcept Fusion by Nendo (4)

BoConcept Fusion by Nendo (3)

source: press release

February 11, 2014   Comments Off

Furniture Inspired by Japanese Shipbuilding Techniques by Jin Kuramoto

Nadia by Jin Kuramoto (10)

Unless otherwise noted, all photos by Takumi Ota

Nadia by Jin Kuramoto (11) Nadia by Jin Kuramoto (12)

“Like huge Japanese lanterns, the harbors along Japan’s jagged coast sparkled at night last week with the blue fire of acetylene welding rods and the white glare of arc lights. The lights burned overtime as Japan worked to meet the greatest shipbuilding boom in its history. All 54 ways at Japan’s nine major shipyards are occupied; one ship is barely launched before a new keel is laid,” reported TIME Magazine in 1964.

Indeed, Japan used shipbuilding in the 1950s and 1960s to rebuild its industrial structure and the country dominated in the late 1980s, filling more than half of all orders worldwide. Japan has since lost its competitive edge to countries like South Korea but now, a group of artisans and designers are looking to revive shipbuilding but in an entirely different way – through furniture.

Nadia by Jin Kuramoto (1)

“The heritage of many of the woodworking techniques used by Japanese carpenters originates from Japanese shipwrights,” said Jin Kuramoto (previously), who recently teamed up with a group of Hiroshima-based woodworkers to create a new furniture brand, MATSUSO T.

Nadia by Jin Kuramoto (7)

The brand is debuting with 2 lineups; the first, designed by Kuramoto himself, is called Nadia. The collection features curved sections of wood for the back of the chair – an image reminiscent of the hull of a ship. Look underneath the chairs and tables and you’ll see frames of interlocked struts, a technique used by the old shipbuilders. In fact, Hiroshima is home to Tsuneishi, one of Japan’s larger shipbuilders. In a wonderful photo essay the Tokyo-based photographer Androniki Christodoulou documented the shipyard.

Nadia by Jin Kuramoto (2)

The second lineup for MATSUSO T is a series of pentagaonl furniture called Five, designed by Swedish designer Claesson Koivisto. The entire series will be on display at Stockholm Furniture Fair.

Nadia by Jin Kuramoto (8)

Nadia by Jin Kuramoto (3)

Nadia by Jin Kuramoto (6)

Nadia by Jin Kuramoto (4)

Nadia by Jin Kuramoto (9)

source: press release

February 5, 2014   5 Comments

Type Eyewear Turns Fonts into Frames


The typeface Garamond was created specifically to improve the reading experience, while Helvetica was intended to be clean, useful and as unassuming yet necessary as the air we breathe. “In written communication, people choose type for how it can add meaningful layers of intent and expression to the words they write,” say the creators of TYPE, a new brand of glasses whose visual design is inspired by typefaces.


With the help of ad agency Wieden+Kennedy Tokyo, online eyewear retailer Oh My Glasses recently launched the new initiative. The first edition features glasses based on two typefaces known for their universality and individuality: Helvetica and Garamond. “The design of a typeface affects how a message is communicated. We use these subtle differences in the design of glasses’ frames to influence the impression of the person who wears them.”

Retailing for 24,150 yen (about $235), the glasses will go on sale at the end of this month.






source: press release

January 27, 2014   2 Comments

less is more | Nendo Reinvents the Chopstick by turning two into one

rassen01_akihiro_yoshidaphotos by Akihiro Yoshida courtesy Nendo

Your chopsticks can make your food taste better, claims Hashikura Matsukan, a chopstick manufacturer steeped in 400 years of history. But how can you improve on, or reinvent, something that’s been around for so long? Something that’s been refined so many times? It’s just 2 sticks that taper to a point, right? Well that’s exactly where Oki Sato from Nendo turned to, when he was asked to redesign a series of chopsticks.

“Chopsticks ordinarily come in pairs,” explains Sato, “but the rassen chopsticks are a single unit. They’re separated into two for eating, then rejoined into one form when not in use.” Rassen means helix, and refers to the DNA-like shape used to link the two together.




Another design in the series is kamiai, or interlock. “We put a gap on one of the four sides of the square shaped chopstick, and embedded a magnet, so that the two would snap together in one piece when they are flipped and fitted to each other.
We placed the magnets towards the outside of each chopstick, so that the chopsticks don’t come together accidentally while someone is using them to eat.”



In a related story, designers attempting to simplify chopstick etiquette.

You can read all our stories on Nendo right here.


source: press release

January 2, 2014   6 Comments

Umekeshi | an eraser shaped like a sour plum

umekeshi-940-510 (3)

Absurd? Yes. Irrational? Of course. Do I want one? Absolutely. This umeboshi eraser (umekeshi) is utterly adorable. As the site accurately points out, I have the urge to put it in the center of my notebook, creating a hinomaru bento (essentially white rice with an umeboshi in the middle, representing the Japanese flag).

It was designed by Fuminori Motodani, a freelance designer who submitted it to the 2013 Midtown Awards and won. The item has yet to hit shelves but if it gets enough votes on the crowd-sourced commercialization website cuusoo it may become available.


umekeshi-940-510 (1)

source: SFC Design

December 19, 2013   1 Comment