In December, Pantone did something unusual when it selected the 2021 color of the year. For only the second time since it began announcing annual colors over 20 years ago, it chose two: Ultimate Gray and Illuminating (yellow). Pantone describes its choice, based on creative industry research and trends, as one representing “strength and hopefulness.” This month, On Design looks at a few recent releases that subtly bring the uplifting bicolor palette into daily life.
OGK is well known for its vast range of bicycle accessories, from bells to children’s seats. Its Muni brand, however, is a departure from its usual fare, with a focus on minimalist design and muted color accents, including yellow and gray. All the accessories also have clever functional details, such as a compact bell that doubles as a light, a detachable lightweight stand or magnetic handlebar grips that can secure a bicycle against a lamp post or railing. There’s even an adjustable rear-view mirror.
The Lantern Light (¥3,300), Muni’s newest item, is a simple, stylish front lamp designed by Shingo Hasegawa that can be attached to the handlebars. Remove it and pull on its attachment ring, however, and it opens up into a petite lantern, ideal for a little extra light when locking the bicycle.
Visit the online store for the full lineup of items, which range from ¥2,640 for a Shoulder Clip that attaches to any bag to ¥7,700 for the Mobile Stand.
Take a different view
Established last year, 70 cm no Keshiki references the rough physical proximity people like to be from their loved ones, as well as the height of our viewpoint when sitting, seiza-style, on the floor. Among its interior products are two designed by Takeshi Nishio of design office Days with gray-silver and yellow-gold options.
Inspired by traditional tokonoma alcoves for showcasing hanging scrolls and ikebana, the Toki o Ikeru (time arrangement) is a simple circular aluminum mounting for displaying a sprig of flowers or a small branch. The stem or branch is held in the center with wire, while a hole in the frame allows it to break through the circle for an ikebana-like asymmetry. Available with a gray-silver, gold or rose champagne background for ¥8,250, there’s also a limited-edition white at ¥9,350.
For those who like to spend time on the floor, Nishio’s Kodai series of mini display plinths double as tiny low tables that can be flipped over for a large or small top. The gray (¥6,050) stands the tallest at 15 centimeters, with a platform diameter of 8.5 centimeters, while the yellow (¥3,850) is the shortest at 12-centimeters tall and 6.6-centimeters wide. Kodai takes its name from the ring-shaped bases of Japanese pottery that elevate bowls and cups’ contents from the table. These pedestals, however, are made from beech and hand-turned on a lathe to create their smooth forms. Each color offers a different shape, spool-like for the gray and yellow, and more voluptuous forms for white and red.
A little something to work with
Designed and either made inhouse or using local factories, Yamama is a relatively new stationery brand that has already been picked up by the likes of NADiff art store in Japan and various international outlets. Launched by Plantis Co. in 2019 with a small range of minimalist memo pads, folders and sticky notes, it also has the knack of picking on-trend color-blocking combinations.
Last summer, Yamama added pale gray and pastel yellow to its collection of sticky notes stored in compact business card-sized wallets. New note shapes were also introduced — extra slim ones for bookmarking and little round ones for note taking.
A great match for Yamama’s sticky notes is D-Bros’ 2021 Creator’s Diary, a unique schedule book that’s become a D-Bros classic since it was first released in 2006. Based on orihon, a Japanese type of concertina-paged book binding, the Creator’s Diary allows users to spread out pages to see a year’s entries all at once. Day-to-day progress is noted vertically in the top half of pages, while weekly memos can be written horizontally across the bottom. As if anticipating Pantone’s color selection, one of the new 2021 mini versions (¥2,860) comes in light gray with bright yellow elastic to hold the pages together.
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