Wednesday, 8 July 2009

out of town - Structures at Tokyo Midtown

A visit back to Tokyo after three months... and where do I go? To Tokyo Midtown.

With exhibitions at 21_21 Design Sight and Design Hub as well as the shopping gallery – where else can a designer be sure to get a great mix of inspiration for reflection and creative work?

The slightly modified 21_21 Design Sight logo reveals the theme of the current exhibition: Bones.

Here, curator Shunji Yamanaka (actually product designer) strips the outer layers of everyday objects, and directs the attention to the underlying structures that provide stability and motility. These structures tell us about the often long development and improvement processes, and are intriguing with their own peculiar beauty.

Picture source:

Does my design withstand the load?

Galvanic Frame by Mongoose Studio plays upon this scary question, most product designers can relate to. When you sit down on one of the three benches (using different construction principles, for example, an arch structure), you will receive immediate feedback on how your weight affects the structure: Red LEDs, mounted at the joints, flicker and make the bench groan, visually.
Suddenly, theories of shear force and leveraged force become intuitively comprehensible.

Picture source: tha ltd.

What constructs the time? How stable is a minute?

One might begin to philosophize when viewing this 'clock' by THA (Yugo Nakamura). At the top of every minute, four scaffolding-shaped numbers (similar to a digital clock, the picture above displays 20:54) appear on a screen, fall down in slow motion, and finally break into pieces...

The exhibition runs until August 30th, 2009.

At Design Hub, exhibitions of the JIDPO (Japan Industrial Design Promotion Organization) alternate with exhibitions of the JAGDA (Japan Graphic Designers Association). Until July 30th, 2009, the exhibition "Graphic Design in Japan 2009" will be shown to commemorate the launch of this year’s edition of the JAGDA annual.
Since Packaging Design is classified as ‘Graphic Design’, I was in my element here. More on that later.

Picture source: Baica

Always worth a look is the Toraya shop in the basement of the Midtown Galleria. Here, the company couples the selling of its products – Japanese confectionery – with exhibitions of traditional Japanese craftwork, always related to food and table culture.

The current theme (until August 31st, 2009) is 'bamboo'. On display are for example various bamboo plaited products, such as the works by Baica, an initiative from Beppu (Oita-Prefecture, Kyushu) which supports young artisans.

Beautifully illustrated brochures can be picked up for free; an English translation is frequently also available.

Picture source: Pleats Please Web Store

At the "Pleats Please" Store I was playing about with this amazing bag. Its structure allows it to be folded in many different shapes, now smaller and then larger again – quite reminding me of the Rubik's Magic.

Then, while looking at the subtle pattern changes in Donald Judd’s prints, on display until August 9th, 2009 at Fuji Xerox Art Space, it occurred to me that at almost any place where I stopped by, I got fascinated by structures, their patterns, and their principles.

out of town reports about inspiring places and events outside of Kyoto

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