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A prototype in your livingroom

by Jean Snow

When architect Keiji Ashizawa decided to move his Tokyo studio into a new space last year, he wanted to do something with it before settling in. So he arranged an exhibition last December in which a group of Tokyo-based designers presented all manner of prototypes for commercial products such as the 5 Stacking Chair (pictured right).

Now, Generate Design ( www.gnr8.jp ), an online store that specializes in selling designer products, has pushed that initial project in a new direction by setting up a section of its site to sell items that were presented as part of the show. Some will probably make it to mass production eventually, but this is a chance to get your hands on original and built-to-order pieces from an exciting group of young and up-and-coming designers.

Minimal time

Following in the footsteps of &design’s “iconic” line of products (Icon Socket, Icon Watch) comes the Icon Clock.

The designers behind the brand regularly seek a level of universal recognizability in their works, and have succeeded again. As with the group’s previous products, inspiration comes from the low-res desktop icons that populated PCs before the current crop of sleek new operating systems from MicroSoft and Apple. The small rubberized clocks that are made to rest on a nightstand or table thanks to a small steel stand are available in four colors (white, pink, yellow, black), and can be found in most of the city’s home-accessories boutiques.

idea-in.com/takumi/

Elegance in gardening

Here’s a novel gift for the gardening fanatic in your life: The Comore Mizusashi by designer Takumi Shimamura is a watering pot, but one that barely shares any DNA with the pots and cans you’re likely to find at your local ¥100 shop. The latest addition to Asahi’s growing lineup of stylish Comore-branded gardening tools, the elegant wooden piece (made of bamboo, and bringing to mind Shimamura’s Bag-Kaku wooden briefcase for the Monacca brand) probably wouldn’t look out of place in any of the city’s design boutiques. And, with the size and shape of a carton of milk, the Mizusashi is easy to handle when you are quenching your thirsty apartment plants. www.comore-ohl.jp/

A bowl to eat

At the Orto Cafe in Fukuoka, you may end up enjoying your meal so much that you end up eating the tableware it arrived with as well. That’s because the cafe has specially ordered the Edible Tableware produced by Rice-Design’s Nobuhiko Arikawa.

The plates, bowls and chopsticks are made of biscuit dough (a mixture of water, flour and salt), traditional emergency rations used at sea or in the military. The range was created in order to offer an ecofriendly alternative to paper and plastic plates, but Arikawa’s creations could also bring attention to the problem of waste in the food-service industry.

The Edible Tableware range hits stores in May, but you’ll also be able to see it on show at the Design10 exhibition, taking place in Fukuoka April 25-29.

www.rice-design.com

Light via the sun

It may at first sound circular — putting solar panels on a light — but designer Kouichi Okamoto of the Kyouei brand (www.kyouei-ltd.co.jp), who loves to play around with unexpected concepts, is giving it a go in his new Mobile Light.

Hung from the ceiling, the Mobile Light slowly charges itself throughout the day with solar panels. Sensors detect the level of darkness wherever it is and automatically light up the product’s small LEDs.

If the technology of the Mobile Light depends on the sun, the physical design takes its cue from the wind: The three attractively curved components that make up the light move and spin around whenever a breeze passes over them.