Conveniently coinciding with Tokyo Fashion Week is Tokyo’s newest event celebrating contemporary art and design, aptly named ‘Designart.’ After its predecessor Tokyo Design Week permanently closed following the death of a five-year old at an exhibit in 2016, Designart’s creators sought to fill the void in Tokyo’s modern art and design scene. The result is a sprawling week-long event spread across multiple Tokyo neighborhoods with over 70 exhibitions covering all aspects of design from fashion to photography to technology.
The theme for Designart’s inaugural festival is “Bringing emotion into our daily lives.” Architect Yuji Okitsu seeks to entertain the connection between emotion and light with an installation of ‘lightflakes,’ which are very thin and lightweight lenses that can be assembled into any shape for any purpose: furniture, decoration, entertainment. The light refracted through the lightflakes changes with the availability of natural light throughout the daytime.
Also included in the festival is the Amaranth Chair created by artist and architect Satoshi Itasaka. The chair is Itasaka’s own sardonic critique of washoku (traditional Japanese cuisine) which, although designated as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage, often contains the food dye Amaranth, a known carcinogen banned in the United States but still in use in Japan. The red upholstery is a nod to Amaranth’s crimson color.
Designart‘s founders want “to go beyond design and art and encourage creative people of diverse backgrounds … regardless of culture, field or generation; to interact with each other, to create new value.” Although most of the designers featured are Japanese, a number of Western and non-Japanese artists are included as well. One such example is a collaboration between French designer Philippe Nigro and lacquerware craftsmen in Akita prefecture. The objects in this collection were made using traditional Akita urushi-nuri lacquerware and magewappa wood craft.
All of the items on display during the festival are available for purchase on-site or via their creators.