After 10 years, On: Design columnist Jean Snow signs off — with style, of course


Build up a good desk space

It’s great when something gives you an excuse to have fun at your desk, and the Play-Deco Construction series from Twelvetone does just that. The collection of five different-sized wooden trays and containers are decorated to look like buildings — a post office, a school, a hotel, a station and, appropriately, an office block. You can bring order to all of your paperwork or just do some “construction” work at your desk.

The Play-Deco Construction series will be released in April, with the various sizes ranging from ¥1,200 for the hotel (pen-box) to ¥2,800 for the office block (A4).


Heard good things about Plus Minus Zero?

The Naoto Fukasawa-designed Plus Minus Zero line has released two types of inexpensive earphones that, as expected, are perfect examples of the minimalist aesthetic the brand is known for.

Available in colors inspired by traditional Japanese hues, the skinny-cabled X010 (pictured right), priced at just ¥500, comes in black, red, yellow, green and blue, while the X110, which offers a deeper fit in the ear and a more durable cable, is ¥1,200 and comes in pink, yellow, light blue, black and white.

Both types make stylish alternatives to standard earbuds and can be ordered at the Plus Minus Zero online store.

X110: www.pmz-store.jp/html/item/001/001/item871.html
X010: www.pmz-store.jp/html/item/001/001/item876.html

Turning over some new leaves

One of the themes that has cropped up throughout the years of On: Design is the idea of bringing the aesthetic elements of nature indoors via products not necessarily connected to the great outdoors. Cushionsan’s Leaves is in step with this.

Cushionsan produces fun packaging products — mostly sponge shapes that both protect and decorate. Its new Leaves, however, are sheets of paper cutouts that can be manipulated in cascading masses of autumnal foliage that can be used to wrap up fragile objects or just decorate a small gift.

A sheet of 20 leaves in natural white is priced at ¥540, while a colored sheet (they are available in a wide variety of shades) is also ¥540 but has 10 leaves. They can all be ordered directly from Cushionsan’s website.


Shoeperheroes help you dig your heels in

Tokyo-based British designer Duncan Shotton has been bringing smiles to the faces of design lovers in Japan for a few years now. His series of comical but smart products — from Rainbow Pencils that when sharpened produce colorful shavings to UFO Soap Pumps complete with neon traction beams — are all self-produced. The same goes for his latest Shoeperhero Shoehorn.

Shotton cleverly turns the shoehorn into the capes of tiny Superman and Batman figures, who help you slide your heels into your shoes. When not in use, the little Shoeperhero also rests in a stand that makes it look like he’s just flown through a cloud.

Priced at ¥1,800, you’ll find the Shoeperhero Shoehorn at select shops in Tokyo, or you can order them directly from Shotton’s website.


And now … it’s farewell, I’m afraid

The very first On: Design was published on Sept. 27, 2005, at the time I was in the process of kicking off my career as a writer.

Now, after close to 10 years, this edition of On: Design, sadly, marks my last one as a contributor.

I’d like to thank Mark Thompson, my editor back in 2005 (and still an integral part of The Japan Times) for approaching me about starting a design column — and I’m, of course, extremely grateful to the other editors who have helped shape my words over the years. As I move on, I am also happy to let you know that my current editor, Mio Yamada, will pick up where I’m leaving off.

So, thank you all for reading and for supporting design made in Japan. If you want a little blast from the past, look here: bit.ly/jeansnow1stcolumn