Tokyo design fair report, 2012

Tokyo design fair report, 2012

Another week, another design fair. But there was no sign of fair fatigue in Tokyo last week, as the city’s biggest trade show, the 27th Tokyo Designers Week (TDW) opened on its doors in Meiji Jingu Gaien park, while younger showcase DesignTide Tokyo once again sprung up in Tokyo Midtown.

TDW took place in a custom-built venue designed by architect Sou Fujimoto. As always, a highlight was its signature Container Exhibition, for which shipping containers are turned into temporary galleries. We were particularly struck by former graphic designer Shinn Asano’s ’Sen’ collection of steel furniture, which turned 2D lines into 3D forms.
The main exhibition suffered slightly from trying to cover too much: everything from kawaii (cute) fashion to furniture and, for the first time an art gallery and exhibition of architectural models - all under the slightly surreal slogan of ’Hello Design!’ 

Nevertheless, inspiring design is clearly flourishing in Japan, with the TDW offering up work by a strong collection of well known creatives such as Tokyo-based architecture practice KDa, which presented its intriguing ’Super Model’ skyscraper concept; and Malagana Design, who offered up a gravity-defying shelving system. A strong sense of a move back to traditional values and craftsmanship was led by newcomer Kenji Mizuno, who exhibited ’Kamidana’ - a sublime modernist interpretation of a traditional portable shrine.

Meanwhile in nearby Tokyo Midtown, DesignTide Tokyo - less a trade show and more a curated exhibition, with bubblewrap forest-inspired interiors by origami artist Makoto Orisaki - is notable for new prototypes by younger, less well-known brands and creatives. Highlights included Food Work, a group show within the exhibition, incorporating products by Norwegian designers for preparing and presenting food. Eindhoven-based BCXSY also presented a beautiful collection of hand-blown glassware for Inframince, while newcomer Daisuke Kitagawa offered an interesting take on convertable furniture.

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