Sat. 02.16.08

Editor:
Jean Snow
 
   
 
Parabola Light
Accessories: Jul 25, 2006

keijiashizawa_parabolalight.jpg
The latest from architect/designer Keiji Ashizawa, produced under the Super Robot unit he shares with Tetsuya Hosokawa and Izumi Okayasu, is a light source with the tentative name of "Parabola Light" -- the light is not currently in production, but there are manufacturing plans. Shown at the recent Interior Lifestyle show in Tokyo, it has already garnered a prize: a 2006 JID Design Award. The aluminum bowl with steel legs will use 150W halogen bulbs. After the jump are a few shots of the Parabola Light, courtesy of photographer Daici Ano.

+ Keiji Ashizawa
+ Super Robot

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ABITAX Phone Strap
Accessories: May 8, 2006

Abitax Phone Strap
Already known for its colorful designs -- as well as interesting choice of product categories, going from purses and portable ashtrays all the way to fly fishing equipment -- ABITAX has recently added a new collection of phone straps that certainly fits right in with their growing line of accessories. Available in 12 colors (pictured here are "Cobalt Blue" and "Coral"), they're made of genuine leather and come with either a smooth or nubuck surface. Simple and elegant, just the way we like it.

+ ABITAX

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AtoZ Cafe
Cafes/Bars: May 8, 2006

AtoZ Cafe
If you find yourself in Tokyo, one thing you'll quickly realize is that there is no lack of stylish cafes, and so new ones are now trying to push the creative envelope in order to stand out. Enter the recently opened AtoZ Cafe, a collaborative project between artist Yoshitomo Nara and design unit Graf. An unlikely rustic setting -- especially unlikely when you consider that the cafe is found on the fifth floor of a building in Aoyama -- welcomes you in what comes off as a sweet and homey environment, with the majority of the tables surrounding a "house" that acts as a sort of showroom/exhibition space for some of Nara's works. Add a well designed menu (decorated of course by Nara, and which you can keep as a souvenir) and tasty selections, and you get a new Aoyama winner in the cafe sweepstakes.

+ AtoZ

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Nextmaruni
Furniture: May 1, 2006

nextmaruni_4chairs.jpg
The Nextmaruni line of chairs -- a collection of 12 pieces from 12 designers -- introduced last year by Hiroshima-based furniture company Maruni Wood Industries has been gaining more and more attention, culminating with showing in Milano this year for their new 2006 collection. The theme from last year's series, "small chairs in dialogue with the Japanese aesthetics," continues, but they promise a refined update that makes each chair even more comfortable to sit on. With names that include the likes of Naoto Fukasawa, you know you're in for something good.

+ Nextmaruni

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Modal Speakers by Kunihiro Tsuji
Accessories: Mar 27, 2006

Modal SpeakersSince we've got Salone del Mobile 2006 fever here at MoCo Tokyo HQ, let us finish off today's postings with another Japanese participant, this time the launch of a new speaker for Modal by Osaka-based designer Kunihiro Tsuji (through his company, Kunihiro Tsuji Scientific). Also happening off-site (at the San Paolo Converso), the speakers will be presented as part of an interactive installation that should make of an interesting use of the space -- a former convent church. The speakers themselves will be available in Japan from November of this year.

+ Salone Internazionale del Mobile Milano

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Love & Destroy by Koichiro Kimura
Designers: Mar 27, 2006

Love & DestroyAnother Japanese presence in Milan next week, this time for the Salone del Mobile proper, but off-site, with the introduction of Koichiro Kimura's 2006 Art Craft International (of which he is head) collection, "Love & Destroy." The collection involves 30 pieces of Japanese lacquer ware, from the traditional cups and saucer sets, chopsticks, and boxes, to very non-traditional items such as gold champagne glasses, a bed, and even an executioner's platform. Maybe the inclusion of this last piece can be explained by this quote from Kimura: "In this collection I aimed for something so beautiful you could die."

+ Salone Internazionale del Mobile Milano

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Tokujin Yoshioka x Lexus
Designers: Mar 27, 2006

Tokujin Yoshioka x Lexus
At the upcoming Milan Design Week -- which coincides with that city's hugely popular Salone Internazionale del Mobile (April 5-10) -- Tokujin Yoshioka will make his presence felt through the "Tokujin Yoshioka x Lexus L-finesse -- Evolving Fiber Technology" exhibition, to be held April 5-9 at the Museo della Permanente. In the show, Yoshioka will transform the exhibition space into a gigantic lens made up of more than 700 km of transparent fibers, the idea being that the lens will draw the eye towards a model of the fourth generation Lexus LS flagship sedan. It's hard to imagine what the full effect will look like, but since it involves Yoshioka, expect something well worth seeing.

+ Tokujin Yoshioka
+ Lexus Europe

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Two Days & Four Products
Accessories: Mar 27, 2006

Kyouei Exhibition
We're big fans of the works of Kyouei, or rather Kouichi Okamoto, and we're quite saddened by the fact that we couldn't make it to Shizuoka for his "Two Days & Four Products" exhibition at the Shizuoka Prefectural Museum of Art earlier this month. As the images will attest (after the jump), it was a beautiful display of all of his light-related creations, and we can only wish that he'll be able to bring the show to Tokyo sometime in the near future.

+ Kyouei

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Rock, Paper, Scissors
Accessories: Mar 7, 2006

Rocks, Paper, Scissors
Rock, Paper, Scissors is a game known to all, and there's something quite playful about the products from the Japanese design unit of the same name. Take the Pack Lamp for instance, produced by IDEA International, that uses the light bulb's own packaging as its lampshade, or even the Still Green, a vase that is shaped like a regular vase, but only as an outline. It's a fresh and fun take on everyday household items, to help bring a bit of creativity and lightness to your surroundings.

+ Rocks, Paper, Scissors

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System Bathroom I-U
Bathroom Fixtures: Feb 27, 2006

System Bathroom I-U
Leave it again to Naoto Fukasawa to turn pretty much anything (including bathroom fixtures) into something that you suddenly develop absolute feelings of lust over. The latest case in point: the System Bathroom I-U he co-developed with National (which you might know better as Panasonic). It's an interchangeable system that lets you use the appropriate pieces for the space you have (and also with a choice of light or dark wood) , and as with anything that Fukasawa has had a hand in, it's beautiful in its simplicity. Nothing extravagant here, and nothing you don't need, just the basics, presented in a way that is sure to turn your bathroom into a part of your home you end up wanting visitors to see!

+ System Bathroom I-U
+ Naoto Fukasawa

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Omotesando Hills
Architecture: Feb 26, 2006

Omotesando HillsThe wait is over, and the much anticipated opening of the Tadao Ando-designed Omotesando Hills shopping complex -- a sort of follow-up, in spirit and intent, to real-estate developper Minoru Mori's Roppongi Hills -- finally happened earlier this month, and a few weeks later, the huge crowds that showed up on opening day have yet to thin out. If you've been to Roppongi Hills, you'll know exactly what to expect: high-priced stores (even the Delphonics stationery store on the premises has gone upscale), long queues at the cafes and restaurants, and everything enveloped in an aura of theme park musicality (background music) and lighting. Although it does still come off as a mall, it's well worth a visit for the scale alone, and design-aficionados will find things of interest in the Idea Frames shop, the Taschen bookstore (until May only), the various galleries, and of course, the building itself.

+ Omotesando Hills

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Sonia Chow
Accessories: Feb 13, 2006

Uni Light
Fresh from her recent showing at the Canadian Style event, Tokyo-based Canadian multi-disciplinary designer Sonia Chow is on the move. Comfortable as much in the realms of textiles as that of graphics (be it on paper or wood, as her "Two Bits" block print shows), she also impresses with her Uni Light. Deceptively simple with its plumbing hose and cable ties, it received an honorable mention in I.D. (International Design) magazine, and deservedly so. A wound-up spiral that creates an unexpected bright "pod" that immediately becomes the centerpiece of any room, it also just so happens that you can sit on it, which certainly adds to the product's functionality. Catch her in next month's issue of AXIS (120), in the "Creators' Works" section.

+ Sonia Chow Studio

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WILLCOM SIM STYLE
Electronics: Jan 15, 2006

WILLCOM SIM STYLEAdd another entry to the Japanese stylish mobile phone sweepstakes, but this time with a twist. Introduced last November during Tokyo Design Week (with an installation at the Cibone select shop), the WILLCOM SIM STYLE "Multi-Functional Communication Series" takes a different approach to the world of PHS-based devices by revolving around one SD-like data card. Modules are then added, currently in the form of the Tiny Talk (a mobile phone) and Data Driver (a USB drive interface). Featuring a beautiful form by industrial designer Shunji Yamanaka, with the Tiny Talk available in three colors (green, red, and blue), it can be ordered directly from the WILLCOM STORE.

+ WILLCOM SIM STYLE
+ WILLCOM
+ SIM STYLE at WILLCOM STORE

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Mikimoto Ginza 2 03.3562.3130
Architecture: Jan 7, 2006

Mikimoto Ginza 2The latest addition to Tokyo's recent string of successful partnering of renowned architects and luxury brands arrives in the shape of the Mikimoto Ginza 2 store, designed by Toyo Ito (Tod's Omotesando). The pink building offers up some irregularly shaped (and placed) windows, which certainly stands out (but in a good way). Oh, and you might actually be interested by the jewelry on sale within.

+ Mikimoto

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Snapazoo 03.5391.1933
Accessories: Jan 6, 2006

SnapazooUp until know we haven't really featured many toys (if any) here at MoCo Tokyo. It's now time to break this trend, and we do so with the Snapazoo. An old product from the eighties designed by a university professor (Ross Miller), it was re-discovered last year through eBay by vinyl-figure maker Roughtoyz, who then decided to use it as a lead-off release for their new line of kid-friendly toys, Laughtoys. Although aimed at children, it doesn't take long to realize that pretty much anyone can get addicted to this shape-making wonder, and you'll soon find yourself not only trying to create the suggested animals, but also putting your own spin on some new shapes. On top of the three regular color combinations (orange/purple, pink/brown, blue/green), a special blue/yellow version was created for last year's edition of Swedish Style (part of Tokyo Design Week). Snapazoos can be purchased at Cafe Pause in Ikebukuro, as well as the Laughtoys site. Sweden-based design unit Next Century Modern will also be selling it on their soon-to-be-launched online store (you can already contact them for purchases though).

Full disclosure: this editor participated in the design (with Next Century Modern) of the packaging for the product, and also in its inclusion as mascot of the 2005 edition of Swedish Style. The Swedish Style edition can also be purchased from this editor's personal site.

+ Laughtoys
+ Roughtoyz
+ Next Century Modern

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Ubushina 03.3440.4697
Accessories: Dec 29, 2005

Ubushina Jewelry

As they state on their site, "ubushina means a birthplace in old Japanese terminology," and with that in mind, Ubushina is also a network where today's Japanese designers can be put in contact with craftsmen working in traditional Japanese techniques (from lacquerware to metal work to paper lanterns) to create contemporary items inspired by Japan's past. Their results are gaining some deserved attention (they get a mention in the latest issue of WALLPAPER*), and it's already looking like we can expect some great things from this new form of creative partnership.

+ Ubushina

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Muji Xmas 03.5208.8241
Accessories: Dec 21, 2005

City in the Bag

Even though Christmas isn't really celebrated in Japan, it hasn't stopped retailers from pushing the holiday as something to be thankful for, and of course, to help encourage sales. The once great utilitarian Muji, more and more expanding into pretty much anything a human being would need (including a home), has now joined in the fun with its own special Xmas campaign that includes not only gifts ideas from the regular array of Muji goods, but also a new series of products that have been inspired from countries around the world and then reproduced/repackaged under the Muji brand. It's certainly a nice collection, from toys made of tin and wood to Teddy Bear cushions and even a limited-edition black version of the their famous Naoto Fukasawa-designed Wall-Mounted CD Player (and it even comes with a Muji-compiled Christmas CD). Try to get your hands on the beautiful catalogue also, which is published in four languages (Japanese, English, French, and Chinese).

LINK: Muji Xmas
LINK: Muji

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60 Vision 03.5738.3851
Accessories: Dec 20, 2005

60 VisionWhy go hunting for hard-to-find (and more-than-likely expensive) sixties-era Japanese furniture and accessories when 60 Vision is around. A new brand launched by D&Department (itself an offshoot of the design company Drawing and Manual), its mission is to relaunch and repackage sixties Japanese designs. They've done it by getting in touch with the original makers and then asking them to start producing those classic works, sometimes as they were, other times in new colors. The manufacturers have also gotten into the spirit of things by branding their collection appropriately (for instance, Ace becomes A60). Not limited to the D&Department stores (they have shops in Tokyo and Osaka), you can now find 60 Vision-branded products in select stores throughout the city.

LINK: 60 Vision
LINK: D&Department

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