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Tokyo welcomes Designart

Last month saw the launch of Designart — the capital's new annual collection of exhibitions that bring together Japanese and overseas creators for collaborations on product design and objets d'art. Here are a few picks that showcase the inaugural event's embrace of color, versatility and humanitarianism.

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Sofa so perfect

Klein Dytham Architecture, one of the co-founders of Designart, teamed up with wood manufacturer Karimoku to create Dora Dora, an unusual customizable sofa. KDa is renowned for unconventional architecture, while Karimoku produces Karimoku New Standard, one of Japan’s more popular wood interior brands, so the result is unsurprisingly striking.

©NACASA & PARTNERS

Composed of seat units upholstered in dusty pinks, blues and red, Dora Dora is a light-hearted take on the lobby sofa that can easily take center stage in the home, too. There are gently curved and oblong seats that can be arranged into seating that snakes across the room, but the real innovative appeal comes in the form of the metal side poles, which allow users to accessorize each unit with side tables, lamps, sofa arms and back boards.

“Dora dora,” explains KDa’s Astrid Klein, is a nonsense onomatopoeic term, that is as playful as the sofa itself.

bit.ly/dora-dora

S&O Design are on the ball

Tennis and playtime were the themes for Hisakazu Shimizu’s S&O Design, whose new works were aptly on show at the Omotesando Fred Perry store.

Expanding on a display of S&O Design’s 2015 Racket Chairs, which are made using the same wood-molding techniques used for tennis rackets, the exhibition was dotted with realistic but cute ceramic tennis-ball ornaments that doubled as small containers. Also on show was Pon Furniture, a new range of brightly colored wooden stools, low tables and clocks designed specifically for toddlers. Featuring rounded edges and extra smooth easy-to-clean surfaces, the furniture can be slotted together and taken apart for storage, while the clocks’ faces are cleverly angled downward, so kids can easily see them when hung on a wall or even just placed on a table.

sandodesign.com

A blossoming collaboration

Perhaps in a slightly surprising collaboration, Louis Vuitton, which recently garnered much attention for its ostentatious Jeff Koons-designed Masters painting line of handbags, has paired with Tokujin Yoshioka, a pioneer of light, sound and scent-related minimalist design.

For Louis Vuitton’s Objet Nomade collection of travel-inspired objects, Yoshioka created the Blossom Stool, a curvy work of four petal-shaped slats that twist and arch over each other to create a flower motif as its seat. Yoshioka says he wanted to “reinterpret the philosophy” of Louis Vuitton, which focuses on brand history and quality artistry by designing something that is also timeless and universal. The Blossom Stool’s unusual fluid form achieves this, and for those who still desire Louis Vuitton luster, it’s also available in a show-stopping gold.

bit.ly/blossomstool

©YOSHIKI MATSUYAMA

Quite the catch

Yoshiki Matsuyama, an in-house designer of Mitsubishi Electric Corp. gives us an often-needed reminder that design is as much about conceiving solutions as it is about aesthetics.

Focusing on developing country problems, Matsuyama spent time in Indonesia observing traveling fishmongers who struggled to maximize incomes due to the perishable nature of their produce. His solution, part of Mitsubishi’s Small World Project, is an inexpensive portable refrigerator that runs on a battery powered by the fishmongers’ motorbikes.

©NACASA & PARTNERS

The mini fridge sports a sloped overhanging cover that protects its ventilation system from rain and prevents sunlight spoiling goods, while the entire unit is easy to unbuckle from a bike and wash. Still in the prototype stage, it has had trial runs in Indonesia, where users found that they were able to not only sell all their supplies, but also charge more for refrigerated fish.

Its sleek design also makes it a stylish device that with a couple of minor alterations, such as the addition of legs and a tabletop, turns it into an attractive mini-bar fridge for other consumers.

yoshikimatsuyama.com