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Stay-Brella: a stable umbrella designed by Nendo

stay-brella umbrella by nendo

There can be any number of explanations for the Japanese passion for reinventing the umbrella. We’ve seen many iterations of the redesigned, reimagined device from the smart umbrella with anti-slip coatings, the inverted UnBRELLA and even an umbrella that looks like a head of lettuce. But the latest comes from Oki Sato of Nendo, who has focused his energy not on the canopy or the ribs but the handle.

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Tomoko Takeda Cuts & Folds Literary Masterpieces to Reveal a Multilayered Image

tomoko takeda cut and folded books

“The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. All photos courtesy Tomoko Takeda | click to enlarge

If you had to distill a book down to a single image, what would it be? In essence, that’s the idea behind Tomoko Takeda’s latest project monogatari no danpen (fragments of stories). Except the artist and art director takes her concept one step – or one cut, if you will – further.

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A Gorgeous Bus Terminal In Akita Constructed Entirely From Cedar Wood

akita station cedar bus terminal

Bus terminals are typically ugly places littered with garbage, stained with oil and reeking of exhaust. But for many it’s also the first and last place you see when arriving and departing. As a gateway to towns and cities the bus terminal should be emblematic of its location – a teaser for sights and attractions that are yet to come. That was the thinking behind Akita Station’s gorgeous new bus terminal located on the west side of the station.

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A Tokyo Apartment With a Built-In Cafeteria

Apartments with a small restaurant

When the Chairman of a local shopping street and his son decided it was time to tear down their old building, they didn’t want just another condo in its place. They wanted something that would interact with the local community and stimulate what they called the “small economy.” Working together with architects Toshiharu Naka and Yuri Uno, the team came up with an apartment with a built-in cafeteria on the ground level that would also serve as a restaurant.

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Pampshade: Lamps Made From Actual Loaves of Bread

pampshade by Yukiko Morita

Another neat design that caught our eye at Tokyo Design Week is the Pampshade. Taking the word pan – bread in Japanese, derived from the Portuguese word pao – and combining it with the word lampshade (why wouldn’t you?) yields the Pampshade.

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1200 Station Workers in Tokyo Shift Tracks From Above to Underground in Just One Night

Daikanyama station tracks move underground

Last year on March 15 the platforms for the Toyoko Line at Shibuya Station moved from the second floor to the fifth floor basement, ending the 85-year history of above-ground operations. The event drew large crowds of train aficionados and their cameras who gathered in hordes to bid farewell to the very last train.

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The Single Stroke Artwork of Kazuhiko Okushita

Kazuhiko Okushita

“a pet jellyfish in your twitter timeline”

Film director and animator Kazuhiko Okushita creates unique artwork using a technique known as ippitsugaki – one of those great Japanese words that doesn’t really have an English equivalent. In essence, Okushita’s work, whether its a still drawing, an animated gif or a short film, is all made from a single, continuous stroke.

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Analysis: Japan’s Zombie Outbreak Preparedness

(originally published on October 23, 2011)

Each year, around this time, it’s highly recommended that you review your zombie outbreak preparedness plan – experts say it’s not a matter of if, but when. With a cremation rate of that’s nearly 100% , Japan and their corpse count, or lack thereof, would seem an ideal place to to ride out a plague of the undead. In the text that follows I would like to analyze the pros and cons of the East vs. the West, so that each of us can make informed decisions regarding our own contingency plans for the impending zombie pandemic.

japan cremation rate

image courtesy The Economist

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A Three Dimensional Sculpture of Mt. Fuji Made From Hundreds of Suspended Balls

Into Hokusai by Gwenael Nicolas at TDW Tokyo Designers Week

“Into Hokusai” by Gwenael Nicolas | photos courtesy the artist

One of the more exciting shows taking place during the 2014 Tokyo Design Week is the Hokusai Manga Inspired Exhibition. Linking past and contemporary artists, the exhibition showcases various works inspired by the ukiyo-e artist Katsushika Hokusai. Placed right at the entrance of the show is the work of long-time Tokyo resident and architect Gwenael Nicolas.

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Shippo tail chair at the 2014 Tokyo Designers Week

shippo tail chair

photo courtesy The Verge

The annual Tokyo Designers Week kicked off over the weekend with various events continuing through this week. There’s always a ton of stuff going on and it’s easy to get lost in all of it, but here’s one thing that caught our eye. “Shippo” (literally, tail in Japanese) is precarious-looking chair that appears to be balancing on a long tail. The chair is actually incredibly stable and it’s a cool illusion that also makes for a whimsical product. It was designed by Martin & Ocean, who seem to be a Japanese design unit but I can’t find any information on them. If you know anything let us know in the comments!

Here are some other cool things that The Verge spotted. If you do attend the festivities make sure you check out the Hokusai manga inspired exhibition.

this post is part of a series of posts on the 2014 Tokyo Designers Week. You can find them all archived here.

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