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Rethinks that reboot familiar concepts

by Jean Snow

Pretty as a doll

Offering new interpretations of traditional Japanese crafts has been a running trend these past few years, and Nosigner, one of our favorite designers, has taken a popular decorative Japanese tradition and given it a modern, functional spin.

Produced for the East Japan Project, which was launched by architect Kengo Kuma and aims to revive traditional crafts in Eastern Japan — the area worst hit by last year’s March 11 disasters — Nosigner has teamed up with craftsmen from Naruko in Miyagi Prefecture to produce a fun pair of items based on Japanese wooden kokeshi dolls. The Kokeshi Bottle Cap takes the traditional doll’s head-shape and turns it into a PET bottle cap, while the Kokeshi Light turns the doll’s trunk into the grip of an led flashlight.

The Bottle Cap is priced at ¥1,575, while the Kokeshi Light is ¥9,450. Both can be found at the Herman Miller Store Tokyo, one of the supporters — who also include BALS, Muji and Cibone — of the East Japan Project..

Nosigner: www.nosigner.com. East Japan Project: e-j-p.org.

A collaboration of clever clogs

Mizutori, which was founded in 1937, is best known for its line of traditional Japanese geta (traditional Japanese wooden sandals), but here it has branched out to slipper-like clogs.

A special collaboration with costume designer Kozue Hibino — who is known for her bold and surreal designs for theater — Hinoko no Hakimono are visually striking attire. They have soles made from Shizuoka cypress wood, and bold colorful synthetic outers that are punched with a holed design.

Priced at ¥7,875 and available in red, yellow, beige, white and black, the Hinoki no Hakimono come in a number of sizes and can be purchased from the Caina webstore..

Mizutori: www.mizutori.co.jp/index.html. Caina: www.caina.jp/commodity_detail/52040540.

Leaf-it Ivy creeps into Japan

We’ve covered some fancy sticky notes in the past, but once you see a wall covered with Appree’s Leaf-it Ivy, you’ll know why it’s sure to be a hit.

One pack includes 2 sizes of paper leaves ( 5.5 x 4 cm and 9 x 7 cm), and there’s plenty of room to make notes on each leaf. But the real fun is using them to spruce up your office to an “ivy league” level of shrubbery.

Appree have released other Leaf-its — their latest version looks like cherry blossoms — but the Ivy is the only version currently distributed in Japan (this is where I confess that Appree is Korean, breaking this column’s “Japanese design” rule — it’s just this once). One pack of 40 small leaves and 20 large ones costs ¥504, and they can be purchased from the DOT online store.

Appree: www.appree.net. DOT: www.dot-tokyo.jp/LI-007-008.

Now you see it, now you don’t

Can a garbage can really celebrate good design? Watch Shunsuke Terada’s Idiom Dust Box in action on YouTube and you’ll see how rubbish can be interesting.

A shiny minimalist box with no handles or hinges, the Idiom’s lid can be slid open to the side, where it flips and magnetically sticks itself out of the way. Since it’s not physically attached to the box, you can also remove the lid entirely. It’s like magic trick — a fun way to make trash disappear.

The Idiom Dust Box is produced for Air Frame and comes in black or white. There are three sizes priced at ¥6,300, ¥9,450 and ¥19,950, and they can ordered online from Generate Design.

Air Frame: www.air-frame.com. Generate Design: www.gnr8.jp/productinfo.php?productsid=1419&products_name=Idiom%20Dustbox. YouTube: youtu.be/k-EJRvA3KtQ.

Pop colors of Hen-Shin Balloons

On Design knows how to party and when we do, we like to make sure we use the best party supplies. Regular balloons won’t do, so Marusa’s latest unusual addition to its inflatable catalogue, the Hen-Shin Balloon, is just the thing.

“Hen-shin” means “transform” and the magical thing about these balloons is that they change color as you blow them up. So the color of your balloon will depend on how big you inflate it. They are available in a variety of colors from the Koncent store and come in two sizes, with each pack of 6 selling for ¥420 or ¥840.

Marusa: www.maru-sa.co.jp. Koncent: www.koncent.jp/?pid=39828146.