Promoting Japan's artisanal history and new design

Established in 2005, Tokyo Design Week has done an admirable job of showcasing Japanese creators both major and minor. Unfortunately, this year has been a bit of a let-down from past years' presentations. Much smaller in scale and yet still heavily populated by corporate stalls, there were a lot of exhibitors displaying the same ideas as last year. But there were a few things that caught my eye.

Tokyo Teshigoto, a project by the Tokyo Metropolitan Small and Medium Enterprise Support Center, proves that bureaucrats have style despite the ill-conceived "Cool Japan." The initiative promotes 40 traditionally crafted products — including kiriko glassware, shippo cloissone, woodblock prints and hand-bound brushes. Using contemporary design that enhances, rather than interferes with, traditional aesthetics, these are products that should also appeal to a foreign audience.