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Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2008
Head for the future
By JEAN SNOW
Time to enter the future, with Nikon's Media Port UP (pronounced U-P) multimedia headset for music and video. The Media Port UP is a bit bulky, but you'll be dazzled by the host of features Nikon has managed to cram inside. It all starts with an array of hands-free commands that allow you to select functions with head gestures. Video playback is viewed through an eyepiece that replicates the experience of watching a 50-inch screen. Music and videos can be stored on the device's internal memory, and Wi-Fi support allows you to access the Internet, where a download service is being launched for UP users.
The Media Port UP comes out in December in two models: the UP300 with 4GB of memory (and no motion sensors) at ¥59,800; and the UP300x, which packs 8GB of memory for ¥69,800.
Idea International's creator-oriented Takumi brand has a new great product on its hands, one sure to become a popular travel companion. The Jetlag is a portable digital alarm clock with one great quality: It takes up as little space as possible, while at the same time providing great big buttons for easy usability. No more fumbling around with those tiny switches that can make you mix up your a.m. with your p.m., causing you to miss a flight. The Jetlag sells for ¥3,150 and is available in black, light gray and red.
Craft Design Technology's line of slick stationery and desktop accessories has been wowing fans of carefully crafted writing tools ever since its launch and subsequent invasion of Tokyo's best design shops. Of all the items found in the exhaustive collection, the most striking and attention-grabbing is its pair of scissors. No wonder this is its best-selling item — more than just an eye-catching design, it is backed by a Japanese tradition that gives it added heft: Each pair is manufactured in Gifu Prefecture's Seki, a city with a history of sword production. It's also the line's best cover model, as the handles form the company's CDT logo. A pair sells for ¥5,250.
Now that you've got the CDT scissors, how about partnering them with the Viss eraser, the latest addition to Metaphys' growing line of stationery goods. Winner of the International Stationery and Office Products Fair Tokyo award this year, as well as a Good Design 2008 Award, it features a screwlike shape ("vis" is French for "screw") that gives the eraser a permanently sharp edge that assures a consistently precise rubbing surface. Viss erasers are available in white, black and orange, and can be purchased individually for ¥315, in a set of three for ¥945, or in a box set of 15 with all three colors for ¥4,725.
Waves of design
It's that time of the year again — Tokyo Design Week — when the world of design takes over major areas of Tokyo. This year's edition kicks off on Thursday and runs till the national holiday (Culture Day) next Monday. Returning as always is Tokyo Designers' Week ( www.da-npo.org/tdw08/ ), along with the Japanese incarnation of the U.K. trade show, 100% Design Tokyo ( www.100percentdesign.jp ), at the Jingu Gaien grounds in Aoyama. New this year are the "100% Futures" exhibition of collaborations between schools and companies, and the always popular and often creative exhibition of new commercial products in shipping containers, this year called the "Container Designing Town."
The biggest change has to be at the artsy DesignTide ( www.designtide.jp ). This year it leaves the Aoyama/Harajuku area for new digs at Tokyo Midtown in Roppongi, where it joins the returning Design Touch ( www.tokyo-midtown.com/jp/designtouch/2008/ ), showcases of design products introduced with great success to Midtown shops last year.
It's worth taking a look too at what's outside of major venues. Take a detour to Gotanda for the second edition of PROTOTYPE02 ( www.superprototype.net ) at Gotanda Sonic event space. The show presents prototypes from innovative, up-and-coming Japanese and Japan-based designers.