words Marcus Fairs
Tokyo just gets more exciting each time we go back, with an increasing number of international designers in town at the start of November when three major events come together.
Firstly there’s Design Tide, a festival that unites dozens of shows staged by individual designers in shops, bars and galleries in the Aoyama and Harajuku districts (and which this year replaces Tokyo Designers Block).
This year, icon teamed up with Design Tide to act as international media partner and to host a couple of parties – including the now legendary night at SuperDeluxe – and present an award for best installation.
Then there’s Tokyo Design Week, with its Container City exhibition in which designers and brands show their work in shipping containers. Finally, the London trade show 100% Design launched in Tokyo this year as 100% Design Tokyo, and, judging by the streams of visitors queuing to get in, it was a huge success.
With all three events within walking distance of each other, this has to be one of the most visitor friendly weeks in the design calendar. And with its non-stop nightlife and hedonistic party scene, Tokyo is also about the best place in the world for the design crowd to let their hair down.
“Many people believe Tokyo is the gateway to the Asian market,” says Masaki Yokokawa, head of Aoyama design retailer Cïbone and director of the Design Tide festival. “It will remain an important meeting place even as large markets like China become more established. But Tokyo is also a fun place. The foreign designers who come here have the chance to talk to each other and their Japanese hosts about design worldwide, at some world-class parties. It’s an attractive combination.”