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The natural tide of the times

by Jean Snow

Back to basics

Ki no Kami paper — the result of a collaboration between the Shiodome Innovation Studio (a creative unit that teams Japan’s leading advertising agency, Dentsu, and Keio University’s Shonan Fujisawa Campus with various creators) and the PaPaCo Yoshino wooden-toy maker — is designed to give kids some eco-friendly fun.

Conceived by art director and graphic designer Masahiko Nagasawa, Ki no Kami, which is perfect for origami and fashioning paper planes, is made from Japanese cedar and cyprus wood-thinnings from the Yoshino region, Nara Prefecture.

These should pop up in selected shops around the city very soon, but they are also stocked at all branches of NADiff. A pack of five sheets (each 145 mm x 145 mm) costs ¥840.

PaPaCo Yoshino: www.papaco-yoshino.jp.

Looking good on paper

Chopstick rests come in all shapes and sizes and are usually made of ceramic, wood or another hard material. So, we’re quite taken by Branch’s Paper Chopstick Rest.

It’s a simple idea inspired by the Japanese art of origami, though its design is based on a technique used in book-binding.

Each pack includes enough paper to create 24 rests, and the sheets are perforated so that each rest is easy to tear off and fold. There are plain colored ones, which are good if you also want to use them to label a table for guests, but it’s the strong graphic imagery of the patterned sets that truly stands out.

Plain-colored sets cost ¥630, and the patterned ones ¥840. Both can be purchased from Branch’s online store, and if you buy them directly from Branch, you can have a personal message printed on the plain ones.

Branch: store.branchproducts.com.

A steamy little heater

Now the weather is getting colder, it’s about that time when we look for a good heating solution to recommend. Our pick for 2011 is really the evolution of a product we covered last year — Plus Minus Zero’s Infrared Electric Heater.

Plus Minus Zero has combined its compact heater with another one of its popular products, the donut-shaped Humidifier. And voila — we get the Infrared Electric Heater with Steam.

The appliance is still conveniently small, and gives off three levels of heat (300W, 600W and 900W), but now it is topped with a 500 ml water tank, allowing it to produce steam at a rate of 20 ml per hour.

It’s reasonably priced at ¥5,985, and is available in beige, red and light brown from Plus Minus Zero’s online store.

Plus Minus Zero: www.plusminuszero.jp

Sail against the plastic trend

If you’re tired of storing things in ugly plastic boxes and tubs, Drill Design’s new Container series is an attractive alternative.

It’s part of a line of canvas products called JoBu, which has been created by Drill Design’s Yusuke Hayashi and Yoko Yasunishi, as well as Masanori Oji of Oji & Design.

The canvas used is woven in the same way as sailcloth, making it strong and durable. With a history that dates back to the Taisho Era (1912-26), it’s interesting to see how sailcloth is now being used for different modern products. Drill Design is building quite a collection — including bags, place mats, slippers and even doorstops — and the latest addition is the Container.

The Container line is available in four sizes and 11 colors, with prices ranging from ¥2,415 to ¥3,045.

JoBu: www.jo-bu.jp. Drill Design: www.drill-design.com.

Double the action at Tokyo Designer’s Week

Tokyo Designer’s Week (TDW) is set to take over the city again, providing fodder for this column for the months to come. This year, a scheduling change should shake things up to your advantage.

Traditionally, all the big events held under the umbrella TDW monicker have coincided in terms of dates, which meant crowded displays and sometimes hectic viewing. This year, however, Designtide will be kicking off solo on Oct. 29, and ending on Nov. 3 — two days after TDW’s main exhibition begins.

With TDW running Nov. 1-6, you now have two weekends to enjoy the various design-related events and exhibitions. Be sure to check the official sites for more details.

designtide.jp. www.tdwa.com/en/.