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Young artists kick off 2008

by Raju Thakrar

Budding artists need to be given a chance to show the world what they have got. Design Festa offers just this. Ever since it started in 1994, this twice-yearly event has been open to artists from all over the world to exhibit their talent.

But don’t worry if you can’t wait until the next Design Festa on May 17 and 18, because there are two permanent Design Festa Gallery venues open throughout the year that give you plenty of opportunity to experience works created by talented amateur artists.

From when Design Festa Gallery West opened in Harajuku in 1998 to Jan. 2007, 3,900 groups representing 21 countries exhibited their works there. The relatively new Design Festa Gallery East that opened next door in October 2007 is big enough to hold large-scale events, including installations and live concerts.

From Jan. 10 to 16, both Design Festa Gallery East and West will hold special events to celebrate the beginning of 2008 as part of the “Design Festa Planet 04″ exhibition.

One of the artists whose works will appear is Sei Horiguchi, who is known for making use of textiles in new and creative ways. She uses bright colors and soft textures to create pieces that convey a translucent clearness and floating feeling — something she achieves by hanging, stretching, tying or draping the textiles.

If you have been to a festival in Japan you will have inevitably seen men wearing happi — short, buttonless jackets with long sleeves. If you are bored of seeing the same coats every time, don’t miss the “Happy Happi New Year” exhibition taking place from Jan. 10 to 16 that will feature brilliantly colored and unusually designed happi.

Those of you out there who still want to belatedly celebrate the onset of 2008 will be pleased to know that a New Year’s party will take place on Jan. 12 from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Design Festa Gallery. Admission is free.

Design Festa Gallery East and West are open every day from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Admission is free. For more details, visit www.designfesta.com or call (03) 3479-1433.