As the shelves in my apartment will attest, I like toys, so I’m thrilled to feature one this month: the Dainippon Type Organization’s Toypography play set created for stationery and office supplier Kokuyo. This is not the first collaboration between the design unit and Kokuyo, who most notably produced a number of notebooks together in 2005 for Kokuyo’s An collection. This time, play’s the thing, with a product that turns typography into something everyone can take pleasure in. Each set is made up of pieces that form the name, in English and Japanese, of an animal — a bird, bear, fish, tiger, horse, monkey and rabbit. Of course, the fun lies in creating your own new shapes.
In terms of innovative new mobile-phone handsets, the Au Design Project tends to steal the spotlight. But that could be about to change with DoCoMo’s new Simpure L2. Designed by Tokyo-based Gwenael Nicolas, the Simpure L2 introduces a smooth, uncluttered aesthetic to the company’s latest lineup of phones that certainly looks like it would fit right in alongside Au’s popular line. Don’t let the featureless exterior fool you — the phone hides all the goodies that we now expect from DoCoMo’s 3G FOMA handsets, and even supports global roaming (all part of the company’s WORLD WING service), though the camera disappoints at only 1.3 megapixels. The sliding keyboard is also welcome, since it contrasts nicely with the clam-shell models that are the norm in Japan. The Simpure L2 is available now, with three colors to choose from: Royal Black, Silky White, and Noble Gold.
Lovers of books and magazines will probably agree that their collection is usually more than just a private library; it demands to be shown and shared — which is why I try to provide space in my home to use such publications decoratively. That’s why I love Kazuhito Ishida’s Book Hook. Yes, you can use it as a bookmark, but it also can be used to casually hang your books anywhere, from a door knob to an armrest, making it both an ornament and a space saver. The Book Hook, as well as a few other products — all part of Ishida’s just-launched YOCI brand — are set to be sold through the designer’s Web site from this month (they were not available at the time of writing).
Moving into the home
Uniqlo is on a tear. If the recent push into the street-fashion market with their UT line of T-shirts and new store in Harajuku weren’t enough, now they have gone beyond fashion and embraced new product categories with their Hotels Homes line of home and personal accessories. The beautiful package design by Kazunari Hattori — itself featured at this year’s Tokyo Art Directors Club awards — accompanies a growing collection of goods for every area of the home, from a full line of body- and hair-care accessories to linens for the bedroom and rugs and chair cushions. With the company seemingly taking a page out of the MUJI book of lifestyle branding, can furniture and stationery be far behind?
A chair of your own
Mixing good design with charity is always to be commended, so take note of furniture shop Hhstyle.com’s “Charity Auction,” in which big names were invited to design an Eames Shell Chair RAR, creating a one-off product with a personal look. In on the project are three biggies, architectural superstars Tadao Ando and Kazuyo Sejima (one half of SANAA), plus interior-design guru Masamichi Katayama of Wonderwall. The auction is till July 29, and you can find details on how to participate at hhstyle.com, Hhstyle.com’s Web site.