Style & Design | ON: DESIGN

Design Week in Tokyo; Good Design Award

Tokyo Design Week, the 2007 edition, has come and gone, and now we have to deal with the fallout: what we saw, experienced, and enjoyed throughout the weeklong design showcase. Although it truly is an international event, here are a few highlights from some of the Japanese participants.

Hats off, food on

A new addition to DesignTide this year was the “FROM” exhibition, in which a few of Tokyo’s best interior brands/shops set up an outdoor area with new collections of items designed for the house. There was a lot to like from the innovative take on traditional urushi (Japanese lacquerware) by the “Wajima x Kakitsubata” collaboration. The project features the traditional industries of Wajima City, Ishikawa Prefecture, in interesting, non-traditional ways. There were quite a few pieces from the collection on display, but my favorite was Emiko Oki’s Hat Plate. With a brim that acts as the plate, the crown of the “hat” can be removed to reveal a warm meal inside. Drop by the Kakitsubata store in Aobadai to see it, and the rest of the collection, for yourself.

1-13-11 Aobadai, Tokyo; (03) 3770-3400;;

Wrapping up light

Among all of the high-tech lights at these shows, I was struck by the elegant design of designer Shin Azumi’s Ribbon candle holder for the U.K. homeware brand Innermost. The Ribbon is part of his first collaboration with Innermost (Azumi himself is based in London), which also includes the much larger Tri candlestick and another, yet-to-be-revealed product. This candlestick is made up of one continuous, brushed steel thread, with three candles held within the folds of the “ribbon.” Look for Ribbon to be in stores shortly.;

With the grain

From its Scandinavian-sounding monicker, you wouldn’t suspect that Leif.designpark is made up of three Japanese designers: Takashi Ueno, Mamoru Naito, and Keizaburo Honda. The collection they showed at DesignTide, their third exhibit since launching earlier this year at the the internationally renowned Milano Salone interior fair, were featured in many previews of the event (including this column’s). Called “Tone,” the chairs and tables featured intricate parquetry — the interlocking arrangement of various patterns of wood grains. Expect to see a lot of great designs from this new unit.

A long, tall glass of sound

The Y Innovation booth at presented the SUPPER audio system, a collaboration between designer Jin Kuramoto (a member of design unit f.a.t) and the sound expertise of audio manufacturer Taguchi. An audio system whose speakers resemble glasses, bottles and a basket, it will blend subtly into your home decor. Or, with the speaker’s silver/titanium exteriors, they’s just as easily look wonderful near your computer setup. SUPPER is set to go on sale this winter.;

Something old, something new

Those looking to buy design goodies certainly had their pick at both 100% Design Tokyo’ Designboom Mart and DesignTide’s Tide “Super” Market. One of my favorite discoveries was embroidery brand KYO-TO-TO. Based in Kyoto, KYO-TO-TO tries to fuse the traditions of the old capitol of Kyoto with the new ones of Tokyo. The beautiful patterns of their tenugui (traditional handkerchiefs) — eight in all — were stunning, mixing a modern design sense with traditional craftsmanship.

Trompe l’oeil

Playing tricks on the eye is nothing new for interior design, but KramDesign shows how fun playing with shadows can be. Light does tricks with their all-black Shadow Table and Chair collection, creating the illusion of angles or lack thereof. Take the table: when seen from the front, it appears to have four legs, though the base is actually triangular. A great piece to add a touch of mystery and surprise to your home decor. Jean Snow keeps an active eye on Japanese design at

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