Koji Nomura of design unit Kenma created this colorful floral sheep
Happy New Year to all our readers around the world! As we do each year, we’ve selected some of our favorite Japanese designer New Year’s cards (nengajo).
According to Japan’s zodiac calendar, 2015 is the year of the sheep so, naturally, there are plenty of designs that incorporate hitsuji, the cute fluffy animal.
“The Scream” by Edvard Munch | click images to enlarge
When Neo is resurrected with a newfound realization, he is able to see the Matrix for what it really is: a series of computer code made up of intricate strings of data. Similarly, the Internet, which we interact with now on a daily basis, is also made up of code that renders itself in a visual format for us to see and observe. But this fact is often overlooked, forgotten almost, which is what led to art director Yousuke Ozawa’s latest project: Data Visualization.
It says something about the popularity of ramen when there are design exhibitions dedicated solely to its vessel. And such an exhibition just opened in Tokyo: the “Mino Ramen Bowl Exhibition.” 25 unique ramen bowls have been designed by some of Japan’s most well-known artists, designers and architects such as Junya Ishigami, Taku Sato and Tadanori Yokoo. The exhibition, produced by the Japan Design Committee, brings together craftsmen from Mino City, one of Japan’s largest pottery centers that also happens to produce about 90% of all ramen bowls.
Some Christmas presents are large. Some are small. Some are transparent. A few days ago Japanese mobile phone operator KDDI announced that, on Christmas, they would begin selling a Mozilla-powered smartphone designed by Tokujin Yoshioka (previously). The new phone, titled Fx0, is the 3rd collaboration between the cell phone carrier and Yoshioka, one of Japan’s most globally recognized designers.
And while the “brand-new transparent smartphone” doesn’t represent the diaphanous mobile future that movies like Minority Report had us dreaming of, it’s still an attractive device that aims to recapture the smartphone market that Japan has lost out on vis-à-vis Apple.
The MTA’s message to dudes: your balls aren’t that big
Despite the jolly season, there’s a scrooge in town. And New York’s Mass Transit Authority (MTA) is trying to get rid of it. Early this week they announced a new series of campaigns encouraging polite and considerate behavior on the trains. One of their targets was manspreading, the spreading of legs which looks distasteful and takes up too much space. Up until now it seemed as though the MTA was turning a blind eye to the issue, prompting riders to take matters into their own hands and publicly shame offenders.
But surprisingly, Japan, the epitome of politeness, at least in the eyes of the West, has been an pioneer in the field with targeted anti-manspreading campaigns dating back to the 1970s.
For the 2nd year in a row, TeamLab staged their “Crystal Tree” at the Canal City mall in Fukuoka. Hundreds of suspended LED lights created a mesmerizing and sparkling Christmas tree. What’s more, visitors could decorate the tree themselves using their smartphones.
An app allowed people to choose different ornaments and “throw” them towards the tree. The ornaments would then appear on the digital tree in front of them. We want this in our living room next year!
It’s that time of year when we tally up our most popular posts of the year, and allow ourselves a bit of humble bragging. Our little blog turned 8 this year (what, is that like 75 in Internet years?) and the newest addition to our family, the shop, turned 1.
But aside from just growing older (FYI – not any wiser) 2014 saw some longer-term projects come to fruition.
Back in 2012 we wrote about a daring little artist, a puffer fish, who created fantastic “crop circles” on the bottom of the sea to attract mates. The article was easily the most popular for us that year but it also attracted the attention of the BBC, who got in touch with us about shooting the fish for a documentary. We helped coordinate the shoot and are happy to report that, after many months, the documentary finally aired!
Another bit of good news this year is that the Papa’s Maze, which we wrote about last year and are exclusively selling in our shop, got picked up by two Japanese TV stations, marking our official debut on Japanese television.
Heading to Tokyo? This year we launched a new feature to the site: A Tokyo Guide! We have curated, intimated guides by locals, as well as our picks for art, shopping eating and playing.
Thanks so much to our readers, new and old! Happy Holidays and we will each and every one of you a splendid 2015. We’ll now step back behind the curtain as we present to you, the 10 most popular posts of 2014.
installation views: ©Yusuke Asai, Courtesy of ARATANIURANO Photo by Ichiro Mishima | click to enlarge
For the painter Yusuke Asai, the act of painting is one of unconstrained creativity. Give him masking tape and markers and he’ll create a sprawling mural. Give him mud and he’ll cover a classroom in hues of reds, browns and oranges. It is the specific location, and the constraints that it poses, the lends power to Asai’s art. After traveling the world and, most recently, staging his first solo show in the U.S., Asai has returned to Japan for “Creating Here,” a three-dimensional installation of organic, web-like branches that deviate from his typically two-dimensional murals.
The slow movement originated almost 30 years ago in Italy as a form of protest against McDonalds opening a branch in the heart of Rome. The cultural revolution against the notion that faster is always better began with food but has since spread to a vast array of sub-categories like slow fashion, slow art and slow education. Now, the Japanese are embracing the cultural shift toward slowing down the pace of life and applying it to taxis.
The Fairy Tale Drinking Glasses feature adorable illustrations from classic fairy tales like “Little Red Riding Hood” and “Snow White.” And not only are they fun to use but they’re educational too!