Tama Art University, commonly referred to as Tamabi, is a prestigious art school in Tokyo (perhaps the equivalent of RISD?). They’ve produced several notable artists and designers, including Naoto Fukasawa and Issey Miyake, therefore, it’s no mystery why the art community pays a lot of attention to young artists being churned out of this educational system. So today, with the intention of possibly highlighting the next big thing in Japanese design, here are some highlights from apartment, the Information Design BFA show, which was on display last weekend in Harajuku.

Some common themes that seemed to permeate the show were self identity, interpersonal relationships, and memory (which ties back into identity).

i-them.log by Shoko Yoshikawa is an interesting reworking of the personal planner. The online planner allows you to add people who you interact with, placing emphasis on proximity of relationships, and allowing you to adjust how close you are to that person on a scale.

Rabu-neba sofa by Ai Fujii proposes natto (fermented beans and one of my breakfast time favorites) as  a metaphor for humans. The centerpiece of the installation is a sofa that works off a natto bean motif. A single natto bean amounts to nothing, but when combined – and the stickiness assures they are never separated – makes for a delicious meal of relationships.

Novel Thesaurus by Hiroka Hasegawa combines the kanji conversion tool with the concept of a thesaurus. The thesaurus contains multiple literary works and when you attempt to convert kana into kanji you get a list of suggested paraphrases from literary sources, instead of a list of kanji. For an English example, if you entered “pride” you may get “the hubristic tendencies of George W. Bush.”

Fuwafuwafuwa by Moeko Sugimoto is pretty straightforward; an investigation into all things snuggly. Compiled into a cleverly designed book, the practice attempts to understand why snuggly things make us feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Memory Cycle by Mari Sasaki is an interactive installation that I thought made a lot of sense. And keep in mind, EVERYONE rides a bicycle in Japan. In this piece the user must get on the bicycle and peddle, which generates a stream of images from the artist’s past, projected onto the wall in front of them. The act of peddling forces the audience to focus on an action that in turn generates memories.