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Thursday, Jan. 29, 2009
Design for DIYers, globetrotters, timekeepers, flower-lovers and garbage collectors
By JEAN SNOW
Spot the bag
The age of do-it-yourself design is upon us, with the latest entry coming in the dotted form of Seto Design Studio's Ika-Textile. The studio is known for its whimsical 9brand line of bags and pouches done in cute animal shapes. Now, with the Ika-Textile, it has put the responsibility for the design of its fabric's patterns in your hands. Each product — from tote bags and mobile cases to pouches and book covers — is covered in white dots, which owners fill in with permanent-ink markers that are provided. The first samples on display have sold out already, but the line has been picked up by marker company Teranishi, with another release planned for later this year.
Geography may not always be a popular topic at school, but up-and-coming Tokyo-based unit Drill Design — comprised of designers Yusuke Hayashi and Yoko Yasunishi — shows with its Geographia stationery line that the theme can make for some very appealing desk accessories. Enlisting the aid of venerable Japanese print house Marumo, the collection includes items that take inspiration from the world's landscape and apply graphic and design elements: "Earth's Axis, 23.4 Degrees," a papercraft-like globe that when assembled replicates the Earth's axis tilt; "Altitude of 200 Pages," a memo block with topographic contours; "Planning Paper," a series of notebooks with covers replicating real-life city grids (Kyoto, Washington, D.C., Brasilia and Canberra so far); and "From the River to the River," bookmarks picturing famous lakes, with the attached string representing a connecting river. The Geographia collection is available in select stores throughout Japan — check the official Web site for shop details.
Porcelain as paper
The best design products can be rereleased decades later and still feel fresh. Such is the case for Makoto Komatsu's Crinkle wall clock. Originally introduced in 1975, Komatsu's Crinkle series can be found in museum collections from MoMA to London's Victoria and Albert Museum, but the design still feels novel: A smooth porcelain surface gradually appears to be more and more wrinkled as the minute hand traverses its hourlong circuit. The green glow seen below both needles comes from a coat of pale-green fluorescent paint. The Crinkle wall clock sells for ¥12,600.
A bendy vase
No longer must flowers conform to their containers, thanks to Hironao Tsuboi's Straw Vase. Designed for the imaginative Japanese brand 100%, the vase is shaped like the classic sipping straw — an accordion-like plastic tube — that can easily be bent to accommodate the natural curves of any stem you insert. Unlike a typical vase, this allows for positioning a flower head for optimum viewing. First introduced at last year's Tokyo Design Week, the vase — available in white, gray, black and red — should hit stores in the coming weeks.
Kawaii garbage collection
Few outside the contemporary art world would think of garbage bags as stylish or artistic. All they really need to do is hold trash. Yet the "Garbage Bag Art Work" project, launched in 2007 by the design agency MAQ, has tried to lighten things up with a series of bags featuring cute artwork — some even in the same color codes as the city's garbage-classification system. The latest addition is the small-size Manner Bag for picnics and barbecues in the park. The bag sports a minimalist rabbit-face graphic on white that is completed by a pair of ears when tied at the top. A pack of 10 sells for ¥350.