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Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2007
Between the crafty and the user-friendly
By JEAN SNOW
Receptacle for the respectable
It wouldn't seem that much could be done to improve on the functionality of the lowly water dispenser -- all you need is a receptacle and a tap. Enter Kai House with the Adhoc product from their Kitchen Design Movement collection. It features both a paired-down design -- it's almost nothing but a stand -- and a stark sense of modernism that makes it an attractive addition to the kitchen. The advantage to owning an Adhoc is that it can be used with any PET bottle, so you're not limited to using a specialized container to supply the water. The only thing you'll really need to consider is whether you'll want to load your bottle as is or take the time to remove labels and go for that clear "au naturel" look. The Adhoc water dispenser sells for 8,000 yen and is available in either stainless steel or blue.
Surf the supermarket
A tote bag is a tote bag, and it just needs to do one thing: hold your stuff. But the Store Bag Store (how's that for a name?) does one better, intelligently harnessing the Internet by incorporating into the bag's design a selection of QR bar codes -- those tiny crossword-like graphics that often appear on advertisements these days. The graphics, scannable by most mobile-phone cameras, provide info about the advertised products or, more frequently, direct your phone to a Web site. The QR bar codes on the Store Bag Store provide you with lists of recipes from a group of restaurants who have paid for space on the bag. The idea is to make you more creative when doing your grocery shopping, with the kind of spur-of-the-moment decision- making that the mobile Net encourages. Sure, you could probably do something similar by accessing various recipe Web sites on your phone, but the Store Bag Store automates the process. And besides, the bags look great!
Once you start doing the rounds of Tokyo's select design shops, coming across attractive stationery is far from a rare occurrence. Standing out from such a crowded category can be challenging, but one name that has been getting a lot of attention recently is Craft Design Technology. They offer a collection that includes pretty much every item you could possibly find on someone's desk, and then some. Everything is produced within a rigidly maintained branding code that is sleek and upscale. Although pricier than the sort of products you'll find at Muji, they are well worth it; when it comes to impressing that important client, every little thing helps. You can find items from the Craft Design Technology stationery collection throughout the city, including at their office and showroom in Harajuku (Ooami Building 2F, 2-18-5 Jingumae).
Slim and light
I'm all for well-executed visual gag, so I immediately took a liking to the Silhouette collection of lights. Designer Yosuke Watanabe, in collaboration with Trico International, has produced a series that perfectly lives up to its name with a light within a flat panel that mimics the silhouette of a traditional lamp. Both the wall-mounted and floor versions play up the pun nicely and are sure to spark comments from visitors to your home. The Silhouette Light Floor and Silhouette Light Wall are both available through the BY TRICO online store (www.bytrico.com), as well as the brand's mYwaY store in Shinonome.
Founded in 2001 by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government with the goal of expanding the Tokyo art and design scene in new directions, Tokyo Wonder Site (www.tokyo-ws.org) has recently been receiving attention for its promotion of young and emerging talents. The latest phase of the project saw the opening last year of a branch in Aoyama near the United Nations University (the main gallery space is in Shibuya, and includes the stylish art cafe Kurage). The new space plays host to an artist-in-residence program whose inaugural project featured Swedish design unit Front. The result was the much-hyped "Sketch Furniture" exhibition, in which the designers created furniture out of thin air with motion capture sensors. With another site in Hongo, TWS should be on your agenda for art and design outings.