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Thursday, Oct. 28, 2010
A well-designed reason to celebrate
By JEAN SNOW
Tokyo celebrates good design
It's that time of year again when Tokyo hosts its biggest design festival. From Oct. 29 to Nov. 3, the streets of Aoyama and nearby areas will be offering the public a taste of what's new in household goods, furniture, jewelry and more. This time, Tokyo Designers Week, which is again being held at the Jingu Gaien grounds near Gaienmae station, celebrates its 25th year and its 100% Design Tokyo exhibition has changed its concept to become the Environmental Design Exhibition. Included are a wide variety of shows and events, as well as numerous related seminars and workshops. Be sure to check out the Cool Japan Tokyo Conference and this year's Container Exhibition.
On the more experimental side, DesignTide's show of up-and-coming work is back at Tokyo Midtown in Roppongi and there's a string of offsite "extension" events in a variety of shops and galleries. Tokyo Midtown is also hosting its 4th edition of Design Touch, offering events throughout the building and in participating stores. Don't forget to stop by the nearby Design Hub center for the Good Design Exhibition 2010, featuring this year's Good Design Award winners (till Nov. 23).
Sending a square message
Kouichi Okamoto of Kyouei Design is a regular presence during Tokyo's design week, so it comes as no surprise to see him launch a few new products during the week's runup to this year's festival. This season sees the introduction of the Reconstruction Lamp, made from recycled construction clip lamps; the 1,000 Combination Locks Ball, an art project that takes its name literally; and the Cube Letter Set. The latter is a new take on a Japanese traditional plaything — paper balloons. Okamoto's version is a cube instead of sphere and trades colorful paper for writing paper. You write a message on the balloon while it is deflated; then to read it, you blow it up. The Cube Letter Set comes with three balloons (one at 125mm square and two at 65mm square, at ¥1,050) and three envelopes. Kyouei Design will have booths at both DesignTide and the Tokyo Designers Week's Designboom Mart where you can buy the Cube Letter Set along with other Kyouei goods. All Kyouei goods are also available from its online store.
Wake up to birdsong
The Bird Alarm Clock does not, as you might expect, wake you with a screeching "cockadoodledoo," nor does it look like a rooster. Instead, this whimsical design experiment from &design is more like a swallow-shaped ornament that pleasantly chirps you awake. It also can speak the time in either Japanese or English and has, of course, a snooze button, as well as a calendar. The controls and LED screen all occupy one side of the silhouette, making the other side a stylish ornament for the bedroom that can be perched on a stand or hung on a wall. The Bird Alarm Clock costs ¥3,000, comes in three colors — light blue, light pink, and light brown — and is available from &design's online store.
Shin Azumi is no stranger to this column. This time, not only do we happily shine the spotlight on yet another beautiful product of his — the AP Stool — but we also celebrate its nomination as a finalist in the FX International Interior Design Award 2010 (winners will be announced at the end of November). The AP Stool, which was designed for Italian maker Lapalma, is the result of Azumi's desire to experiment with plywood. Single sheets are bent into beautiful curved stools, which are easily stacked together and are available in either a light or dark wood grain. They are currently only sold in Europe, but will be available in Tokyo from December at the Sempre Honten store or via Sempre's website.
Speakers that have something to say
Multimedia speakers are a dime a dozen these days, but sadly most of their makers appear to have given up on creativity; which makes the Speak-er such a pleasure to find. Created by the. — a design unit formed by Sherwood Forlee and Mihoko Ouchi — its quirky speech-bubble design, as they put it, "puts the 'speak' back into speaker." The designers also promise dynamic sound and enough power for the sound to fill a room. Compatible with any computer or MP3 player, Speak-er is priced at ¥12,600 and can be bought directly from the MoMA or Caina online stores.