japanese art, design and culture
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Songs of Love for Japan – 24 hours left!

SOLFJ
Songs of Love for Japan is a 3-day sale of inspiring music benefiting survivors of the crisis in Japan with songs. The 100-song compilation features music from artists such as Sara Bareilles, Tori Amos, The xx, The Submarines and Ani DiFranco, as well as other bands both signed and unsigned have come together to create yet another way to support Japan.

SOLFJ Album

This flash sale is only available for the next 24 hours! The full album of 100 songs is available for download at $100. [See the full song list]

A limited compilation of 20 songs is also available for $20.
Wednesday: 20 Song Compilation – starts Wednesday 12:01am

  1. Aileen Morgan – Room to Grow
  2. Alina Smith – Kissing Tree
  3. Artemis – Fountain of Life
  4. Cheryl B. Engelhardt – Moving Towards LoveUnreleased
  5. Emily Zuzik – Saudade
  6. Fill the Silence – Push
  7. Hope Waits – Fortune Teller
  8. I Am Not Lefthanded – Boats
  9. Jenni Alpert – Sweet Talk
  10. Kate Walsh – Light & Dark
  11. Katey Laurel – Blue Sky’s Comin’
  12. Kings Cross – Never Say Never
  13. Kristin Hoffmann – All Together NowUnreleased
  14. Marina V – You Make Me BeautifulUnreleased
  15. muMs&Aurora – Sleep Baby Sleep
  16. Random – Cry of the PlanetUnreleased
  17. The Cringe – Gimme Resurrection
  18. The Perfects – New Life
  19. World Versus Me – Transference
  20. Zoe Noell – Just Believe

SOLFJ Team hope to raise $250,000 for ShelterBox, an international disaster relief charity.

SOLFJ Donate

April 20, 2011   Comments Off

2010 Mitsubishi Chemical Junior Designer Award | Jun Ebata

Continuing our coverage of the Mitsubishi Chemical Junior Designer Awards

Another- and perhaps the last – award I felt was worth mentioning was Jun Ebata’s stool, “Tension,” which won the Kenji Ekuan award. Side note: Kenji Ekuan, one of the judges of the award show, (b. 1929) is an award-winning designer known for such ubiquitous designs like Kikkoman’s soy sauce dispenser.

Appropriately named, “Tension” incorporates architectural elements, such as brace structures and beam strings, to achieve ⌀ 6mm  legs and an overall precarious look and feel. I’ve always been stunned by architectural mechanisms so it’s nice to see them beautifully implemented in household furniture.

Jun Ebata is a design student at the Shizuoka University of Art and Culture. His work was last seen during the 2008 Kokuyo Design Awards where “kezurinbo,” a set of adorable pencils that change facial expressions as you sharpen them, won him considerable attention.

Related:

2010 Mitsubishi Chemical Junior Designer Award | Jun Ebata
Continuing our coverage of the Mitsubishi Chemical Junior Designer Awards…Another- and perhaps the last – award I felt was worth mentioning was Jun Ebata’s stool, “Tension,” which won the Kenji Ekuan award.Kenji Ekuan, one of the judges of the award show, (b. 1929) is an award-winning designer known for such ubiquitous designs like Kikkoman’s soy sauce dispenser.

Appropriately named, “Tension” incorporates architectural elements, such as brace structures and beam strings, to achieve ⌀ 6mm  legs and an overall precarious look and feel. I’ve always been stunned by architectural mechanisms so it’s nice to see them beautifully implemented in household furniture.

http://www.gk-design.co.jp/english.html

http://www.moma.org/collection/artist.php?artist_id=27007

January 25, 2011   Comments Off

2010 Mitsubishi Chemical Junior Designer Award | Takuya Motte

Continuing our coverage of the 2010 Mitsubishi Chemical Junior Designer Awards…

The award for honorable mention was like an unexpected visit from an old friend. We featured Takuya Motte’s neck camera, “Vision” during our coverage of student work at Kobe Design University about 1 year ago.  So it was nice to see the piece progress this far!

The neck camera, which was co-developed with the University, is a working model. You drape the camera strap around your neck and images are recorded by the simple act of creating a picture frame using your hands like this (Photo: Oliver Strewe/Lonely Planet). Not only is it a beautiful looking product, it poses some interesting questions about our relationship with photography, as well as gadgets, for that matter.

In his seminal essay on photography, John Berger writes:

Photographs bear witness to a human choice being exercised in a given situation. A photograph is a result of the photographer’s decision that it is worth recording that this particular event or this particular object has been seen. … At its simplest the [photograph], decoded, means: I have decided that seeing this is worth recording.

Although we don’t always look at a photograph and think, “ah, human choice,” Takuya Motte’s neck camera has the potential for making us far more aware of our actions as photographers. Not only will we be more conscious of the act of recording, but we will take pleasure in the process, our surroundings and our current conditions far more than we ever have.

It’s interface is also worth considering as it is a significant step forward in blurring the lines between human and mechanic relations. What was once a very mechanical process can now be accomplished through a very natural human gesture. Although I imagine it would be quite awkward at first, I would love to try it out to see what it’s actually like. I have a strong feeling this is not the last we will see of the “Vision” neck camera.


January 24, 2011   Comments Off

Trick by Sakura Adachi

I love this multi-purpose bookcase which, by removing the two chairs at each end, doubles as a table. Although I would find the most use for it somewhere in the middle; housing books while also functioning as a table and chairs.

It was designed by Milan-based Japanese designer Sakura Adachi and was shown during Milan Design Week 2010. It was designed for Italian furniture company Campeggi, whom Adachi has worked with on more than one occasion.

The “Trick” bookcase is a continuation of Adachi’s work in exploring creative and unconventional book shelving, such as “Cave,”  which was inspired by her fascination with pigeons and their ability to create their own nooks in virtually any space.

via swissmiss and shoeboxdwelling

January 18, 2011   Comments Off

SOUR new music video directed by Masashi Kawamura

Japanese band SOUR and director Masashi Kawamura have just released their latest music video titled “Mirror.” After a successful kickstarter campaign to fund the programming-intensive video, a few months of teaser tweets and several hours of technical delays, the video went live yesterday and, in my opinion, did not under-deliver.

SOUR - mirror screenshots (2)screenshots | click to enlarge

SOUR - mirror screenshots (3)

The highly participatory video prompts users to connect via twitter, facebook, webcam, or any combination of the 3 (but you don’t have to). And without giving too much away, the video quickly whisks you away to a world of sound, visuals, multiple browser windows, social networking, global mapping and overall interconnectivity. It’s truly quite a unique experience and I would recommend you try it out. But if you don’t want to wait for it to load (I had to wait a good 5-minutes) there is also a non-connected youtube video you can watch below.

SOUR rose  to Internet (more specifically, YouTube) stardom last year with their low-budget, high-impact music video “Hibi no Neiro” (3mm + hits and counting!) which was made simply from global fans and their webcams. The video went on to win several awards including Best Animated Music Video at Animanima Film Festival and the 2009 YoutTube Video Awards in Japan. Masashi Kawamura, who has worked with SOUR on almost all their videos, is a senior art director at BBH in New York. Some of his side projects include NHK’s highly acclaimed PythagoraSwitch, and some of my personal favorites, Calculation in Motion and Rainbow in Your Hand.

SOUR - mirror screenshots

December 10, 2010   Comments Off

Tile Cowpet by Studio Note


click images to enlarge

Norihiko Terayama, the man behind Studio Note, has unveiled his latest creation: Tile Cowpet.

The concept is really quite simple. We use tiles and carpets to cover surfaces of our homes, right? Carpets provide warmth and texture to our rooms while tiles offer durability and protection.

The innocent question, “so why not combine them,” led to the eventual development of Cowpet, a cowhide rug inserted into acrylic tiles. I love how the presence of the rug seeps out through the spaces between the tiles; slight evidence of its original form.

Photos: Kentaro Amatatsu | Model: Kyoko Takemura

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December 3, 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.

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November 29, 2010   Comments Off

Jaime Hayon does Marutani-yaki Ceramics


click images to enlarge

Following our coverage of Tokyo Designer’s Week, I wanted to highlight a few projects that were of particular interest to me. One of those projects is the Jaime Hayon line of ceramics for Choemon, one of the better known ceramic companies specializing in Marutani-yaki, a style of ceramics native to Ishikawa prefecture. It will be produced by Maruwakaya, who brought us the deerskin iPhone cases.

Although this is not the first time Hayon’s work has cast anchor in Japan (more on this and a recent history of Spanish design in Japan HERE ), it does mark the first original product line that was conceived specifically for a Japanese company.

I think the reason I am so drawn to this line of ceramics is that, while they are brimming with Hayon-esque creativity and originality, he has somehow succeeded in imbedding his work with the timeline of traditional Japanese ceramics. So much to the point where I almost sense a form of nostalgia as I look at the pieces arranged on the table.

via excite.ism

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November 8, 2010   Comments Off

The new market | Tatsuya Maemura

Running simultaneously with Tokyo Designers Week is “the new market,” a sort-of-renegade standalone exhibition of 35 up and coming artists and designers. Between 10/30 and 11/3 the design “supermarket” will take over 3 floors in the Gotanda Aji building where over 500 original pieces of work will be on view, and for sale.

Consistent with one of our missions of unearthing new talent from Japan, throughout the week we will be showcasing some of our favorites from the group. First up is Tatsuya Maemura, a 30-year old product designer who  obtained his design education in Europe and, just this year, established his own design studio.


Photos by Ayu Kobayashi | click to enlarge

Cork Stool is a steel stool that is completed only when the user recorks the seat (which is actually made from cork)!

Felt envelope is a minimal, elegant case to protect your mac.

I also like the camera case that he made specifically for the Ricoh GR digital, and specifically for Ricoh GR digital users – a breed of photographers, he believes, who have always been captivated by the compactness and stability of the product.

October 26, 2010   Comments Off

Phenomenon by Tokujin Yoshioka


click images to enlarge

In a recent press conference Italian ceramic design company Mutina announced that their latest collection, Phenomenon, will be styled by Tokujin Yoshioka. The company, which prides itself on its forward-looking and energetic attitude, has been aggressively  teaming up with high-profile designers such as Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec and Patricia Urquiola.

Known for his sensitive depictions of the laws of nature, as well as natural phenomenon, Yoshioka brings his signature style to ceramic tiling, interpreting them, not as industrial products, but as layers of nature, galvanizing our imagination of what ceramic tiling can be. The result is a beautiful fusion of the audacity of Italian design and the poetic lushness of Japanese design.

via @architecturephoto

October 13, 2010   2 Comments