words Laura Houseley
Tokyo’s design week felt at times like a pseudo Bavarian Christmas market this year. Geared towards shopping, it has grown in size and sprawl, but for those with a flair for navigation there was some engaging work to be found.
Traffic shuttled between the two main camps, 100% Design Tokyo at Jingu Gaien and the DesignTide main site just a few minutes away at The National Stadium. The canvas-covered halls of 100%, this year directed by Michael Young, failed to deliver any show-stopping moments. Visitors were led through a baffling selection of work from 100 designers – including Michael Young’s sex toys – with the rest of the show seemingly an overflow of the ever-congested Design Mart.
At the DesignTide show the atmosphere was different. This being Tokyo, the leading names behind the design scene are retailers-cum-manufacturers and here the likes of Cibone, Sfera and Time & Style showed their new collections. A well-edited selection of European designers showed their wares with interactive exhibitions based around the theme of “Play” – Marti Guixé set up a production line of his hand-painted Canvas furniture, decorating blank pieces with scenes from classic oil paintings and abstract images.
The DesignTide trail proved that old-fashioned legwork and patience were what was needed to uncover the best work in Tokyo. Atelier Bow-Wow’s Dog series, in development for two years, is now in production. Each seat is meant to represent a different breed of dog, although spotting which one was the British Bulldog proved tricky. Nendo’s Talking range was at Light Box Studio in Aoyama – the mouths of the vessels are shaped to form the words “yu” (soy sauce), “shi” (salt) and “ko” (pepper).
The Trico showroom in Harajuku was showing British designer William Warren. With works such as Terrace – a sideboard that takes a nostalgic form of English architecture as its inspiration – he has become extremely popular in Japan.