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New Sarutahiko Coffee Shop Opens in Tokyo

sarutahiko coffee sengawa

The rumblings of Tokyo’s 3rd wave coffee movement have been erupting this year. Blue Bottle Coffee opened not 1 but 2 shops in Tokyo back-to-back; first in February and then again over the weekend. But the Silicon Valley-funded roaster isn’t the only one mounting a swift advance on Tokyo’s coffee connoisseurs. The home-grown Sarutahiko Coffee, which operates a popular caffeinating destination in Ebisu has now opened their 2nd location in Chofu, a western suburb of Tokyo.

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Studio Visit With Ai Campbell


all photos by kaori sohma for spoon & tamago

Animal skulls, organisms and landscapes

It was a cold, cloudy Saturday, just like most Saturdays have been in February but Gowanus, Brooklyn seemed extra black and white that day. We dodged puddles of ice as we made our way to Ai Campbell’s studio, where she creates her intricate paintings that are inspired by animal bones, organisms and landscapes.

Dark, Rorschach test-like splotches lined the wall as we entered her studio, accessed by a stairway to the 2nd floor. Ai had been testing patterns by dripping ink and letting it organically take shape. She often combines these naturally-formed ink splotches with more carefully controlled lines and patterns.  Next to the ink marks was a shelf with an animal skull, which we would later learn once belonged to a coyote.

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Remembering Kenji Ekuan Through a Soy Wax Candle

soy wax candle

Kenji Ekuan, the industrial designer who created the graceful (and now ubiquitous) soy sauce bottle, passed away on February 8, 2015 at the age of 85. In collaboration with artist Nao Matsumoto, we decided to remember him through a unique candle.

Using organic soy wax (so meta, we know!), Matsumoto recreates the elegant teardrop shape in the form of a candle to remember a true pioneer who helped spread the Japanese aesthetic.

The candle is available in our shop, but it’s also part of our Studio Visits exhibition, which opens tonight!

“No Soy Sauce, No Life” – Nao Matsumoto

soy wax candle

Katamaku: Upcycled Stadium Roofing Used to Create Carrying Cases

katamaku stadium roofing cases

katamaku: a series of carrying cases made from stadium and tent roofing | click images to enlarge

As we all know, the roofing material that covers massive stadiums has to be strong, durable and weatherproof. The plastic-like material is first extruded into a thin film. But when it’s cut into gigantic shapes that cover stadiums there’s a lot of excess material that gets thrown out. And as it turns out, explains Japanese design firm k2m, the material is permeable enough that it can be used for smaller things as well.

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Cubist Typographical Renditions of Hokusai’s Woodblock Prints

hokusai line kenjiro sanoThe Japanese graphic designer Kenjiro Sano’s office is called Mr. Design. And it’s anything but a misnomer. After graduating from ad agency Hakuhodo, Sano worked on a diverse range of campaigns for major companies like Toyota and Suntory. He’s also created adorable mascots for any number of brands and even worked with Japan’s beloved Doraemon. One of my favorite series are the ads he created for Tama Art University.

His creative career is now the subject of a retrospective. And headlining the show is “HOKUSAI_LINE,” a new series of prints that are inspired by the legendary Ukiyo-e artist Katsushika Hokusai but created in a cubist, typographical style.

hokusai line kenjiro sano

Sano’s cubist, typographical renditions are juxtaposed with the original characters created by Hokusai 150 years ago

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Whimsical Wooden Automata by Kazuaki Harada

kazuaki harada LOL

“Laugh Out Loud” is one of many automata created by Kazuaki Harada. It features a naked person (wearing only socks) boiling a teapot on his/her belly.

In case you’re like me and are wondering what exactly is an automaton, it’s a self-operating machine that dates back to the Hellenistic period of Greece. It’s one of the earliest forms of mechanical engineering and a prime example is the cuckoo clock. The devices relay on hydraulics, pneumatics, mechanics and a whole bunch of gears. In other words, they were the first analog computers.

Kazuaki Harada is a contemporary Japanese woodworker who creates whimsical wooden automata that perform all sorts of stunts simply by the turn of a handle. The devices are playful, silly and sometimes nonsensical. But they’re sure to make you chuckle.

kazuaki harada - LOL

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Kamidana Shiro: A contemporary Japanese altar modeled after an iPhone

kamidana iphone design

the kamidana is a series of household Shinto altars designed to look like an iPhone

Apple’s iPhone and iPad have undoubtedly become a global phenomenon, spawning sub-products and sub-industries all designed around the incredible reach these products have had. But the iPhone in particular has breached new, spiritual grounds in Japan. A Japanese woodworking company called moconoco has released a kamidana (a miniature household altar literally translated as “god-shelf”) in the shape of an iPhone.

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Tomatan: the wearable tomato robot that feeds you tomatoes as you run

wearable tomato project (1)

Runners from around the world descended upon Tokyo over the weekend to compete in the annual Tokyo Marathon. As usual, Dole tried to promote the banana, favored for its portability and high source of nutrients like potassium and magnesium, as the official fruit of running. But this year saw another competitor: the tomato.

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Boulanger Kaiti: an old Japanese home renovated into a bakery

Boulanger Kaiti Fukuoka

Photos by Yousuke Harigane courtesy Movedesign | click images to enlarge

Architectural preservation is so rare to find in Japan that it warms my heart to see projects like this. When the owners of the Fukuoka-based bakery Pain de kaiti decided to open their 2nd shop they wanted to make it special. So they found an amazing, old Japanese Kominka, or traditional folk house, and decided to renovate it into a spectacular bakery.

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A Minimal Wall Lamp Made From a Single Sheet of Paper

yoy poster wall lamp

a single piece of paper turns into a minimal wall lamp | Photos by Yasuko Furukawa

Posters are ubiquitous wall ornaments. We buy them, pin them up and take them down just as fast as we go through clean underwear. But what if we could approach the lighting in our house with the same ease? That was essentially the idea behind “Poster,” a wall lamp made from a single sheet of paper.

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