Style & Design | ON: DESIGN

Handmade in Japan with love

With Valentine’s Day coming up soon, online marketplaces of handmade items can be great places to find unique gifts for loved ones, and Creema.jp, which currently hosts around 150,000 creators, offers a very wide range, everything from artisanal foods to tableware, accessories and fashion.

Here are a few unusual and humorous items that stood out at the HandMade in Japan Fes (HMJ), Creema’s annual fair of thousands of vendors, which took place at Tokyo Big Sight earlier this month.

Flowering design

There was a little hubbub around Yu Watanabe’s HMJ booth, where his porcelain bud vases and other pottery tableware pieces drew in buyers attracted by a striking display of predominantly white pieces. Each subtly accented with muted but warm colors, Watanabe’s oblate, flat bottomed single-stem vases are stunning, and reasonably priced at around ¥2,000, but it’s his unusual Hana Yasume (Flower Rest, ¥4,455) that is particularly intriguing.

Comprising a rectangular slab of pottery, the Hana Yasume is designed to hold a single flower horizontally, with the cut end resting inside a vase-shaped depression. The indent, which helps keep the stem in place, also serves as a tiny basin for water.

This all sounds illogical for a vase, but Watanabe’s Instagram account illustrates an array of inventive ikebana-like ways in which it can be used. Place a stone beneath the head or base of a flower to raise it at an angle; allow the stem to gradually shape itself around a small rock to grow vertically; or just place a bloom in the basin and use the rest of the slab as a display stand for other small items. The Hana Yasume is more than a vase — it’s a vessel to create natural artworks.

Watanabe Thoki items will be available on Creema later this month. See @watanabe_thoki on Instagram for more information.

Sweet style at the drop of a hat

When asked why he makes hats inspired by baked goods, Kent Hat designer — who goes by the mononym Kent — simply says that he wanted “to bring more attention to the idea of wearing hats.”

His creations certainly do that. At first glance, the lineup of headwear makes very convincing plates of loaves of bread and giant pastries, but each one is expertly hand-crafted in felt. Some may suit the more eccentric wearer — sporting a white cake dripping with whipped cream and topped with a large strawberry, for example, may need a special occasion — but others can be unexpectedly subtle when worn, like the icing-sugar dusted chocolate gateaux boater.

Carefully chosen for their fitting shapes, the range includes half a french loaf, a petit boule and a classic loaf. For the sweet tooth, there’s also a latticed apple pie, Japanese melon pan pastry, ice-cream topped pancakes and more.

The baked goods hats are perhaps among the quirkiest, but Kent Hat has other curious versions also worth trying on, including a smiley faced marshmallow, a huge coffee bean and a purple sweet potato. Order made and priced from ¥13,200 to ¥20,350, these are originals to savor.

bit.ly/kent-hat, bit.ly/creema-kent

Bottoms up

FUMIHIRO SAKITA, AIRE AMENO
FUMIHIRO SAKITA, AIRE AMENO

The Panty Glass isn’t new, but it still gets laughs. Yohei Ishii has been hand-blowing these bikini-brief-clad glasses for 14 years, ever since he was inspired by a song that his former band used to sing: “Panty Paradise.” Each tumbler (from ¥8,800 to ¥22,000) not only wears an original pair of pants but is complete with a tiny dimple of a belly button.

Honestly, these are really weird — and at times unashamedly detailed with dainty lace trimmings, polka dots, flowers and bows — but when filled with different colored beverages to adjust “skin tone,” it’s hard not to smile.

Ishii makes other glassware items, including vases and ornaments, but at the end of the day his underwear-attired glasses haven’t bored the pants off buyers yet.

bit.ly/dwango-pglass, bit.ly/creema-pglass

In a Happy Place

For something a little more innocent, Atelier-fu’s Happy Interior and Simple Smile lineups of wooden products, designed by Tsuyoshi Miyazaki, are joyous items that all sport elated smiles.

Some, such as its building blocks, are also very cleverly designed. The V-shaped roots of the Teeth series of blocks (from ¥5,500), for example, allow them to be securely stacked in numerous ways, including into arches, while the case can be incorporated into various simple balancing games.

The On: Design favorite, though, has to be Smooth (from ¥16,500) — sets of happy figures arching in yoga-like positions, which can slot together in surprising acrobatic configurations. Think of it as a relaxing stacking toy for adults.

atelier-fu.jp, bit.ly/creema-a-fu

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