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Tokyo - Design week

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Marti Guixé’s Canvas furniture

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.

Marti Guixé’s Canvas furniture

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).

Atelier Bow-Wow’s Dog chairs

Nendo’s Talking vessels

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.

William Warren’s Terrace sideboard

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