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Friday, Aug. 28, 2009

Expo has designs on shoppers

Staff writer

Considering the heavy hit corporate Japan has suffered from the current economic downturn, it was only to be expected that entries for the nation's leading industrial design prize, the Good Design Award, would be down this year.

News photo
Grand plan: Crowds wander the Good Design Expo in Tokyo last year.

So when the event, whose eligible products must be scheduled to go on sale before March 2010, received roughly the same number of entries this year as last — around 3,000 — the chairperson of the award judging committee, architect Hiroshi Naito, breathed a sigh of relief.

"You get a sense from the volume of entries that precisely because these are tough times, the companies feel they have to convey to consumers the quality of the merchandise they are producing," he said.

Those companies will have a chance to impress consumers directly this weekend, when the annual "Good Design Expo" is held at Tokyo Big Sight in Odaiba. The event features the top two-thirds of the Good Design Award entries, giving the public and also the judges a chance to examine them up close. (Recipients of the handful of coveted "Good Design Awards" will not be announced until October.)

In addition to the 2,000 exhibits inside the cavernous Tokyo Big Sight, there will also be dozens of presentations to keep the expected 45,000 visitors entertained. Among these, three highlights will be staged between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. on Sunday afternoon, when Hitachi will put their hand-gesture-controlled television through its paces, shipping giant NYK Line will show off their solar- and wind-assisted "NYK Super Eco Ship 2030," and Honda Motor will display its robotic device for helping the elderly to walk unassisted.

"Good Design Expo" will be held from Friday, Aug. 28, through Sunday, Aug. 30, at Tokyo Big Sight in Odaiba. Opening hours differ for each day. Admission is ¥1,000 for adults and free for junior high school students and younger people. For more details, visit www.g-mark.org/expo/2009/index_e.html

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