Latest Lesque Collection

I’ve recently mentioned a few times the new skate brand OPEN, started by my friend Trevor Sias with designs by Ian Lynam — you can order the first two boards now, and here are a few more photos — but here’s a look at the latest deck collection from Japan skateboard brand Lesque, also designed by Ian.

From 2009 to 2010

At the turn of each year I tend to post something here about how the year has ended for me and what I have in store for the coming one, and so that’s what I’m going to do right now — I used to do these in the form of my “TB.Pensar” columns, but I’ve long retired those.

As with many I’m sure, it was a year of re-orientation in a way, which for me was rudely intruded by some serious health issues — which has turned this end of year into a rather stressful one, with the financial repercussions of everything finally culminating in a tight and uncomfortable money squeeze.

But hey, things could be worse. After the unfortunate and disappointing ending to PingMag — and my role as editor at the site — I was very lucky to quickly rebound with a beautiful relationship with all things PechaKucha, as well as Klein Dytham Architecture. Funny how despite years of crossing paths, we had never really worked together or collaborated on anything. That work continues today, and I’m looking forward to even more exciting developments within the PechaKucha community, a lot of them growing from the recent major relaunch of the official website. If you weren’t aware, on top of the administrative duties I perform — if you’re a PKN organizer somewhere in the world, then you’ve surely been in contact with me — I still do all daily updates to the PechaKucha Daily blog.

With the recent re-launch of the MoCo Loco site, my weekly Tokyo-related contributions to the site have come to an end, but expect my annual “top 5” favorite items from the year’s posts to appear on the site sometime soon. My monthly “On Design” column for The Japan Times does continue, and you can read this month’s edition (it was published this past Thursday) online here. I can’t quite recall how many years I’ve been writing it — I think I may have started in 2005 or 2006 — but it’s something I still enjoy doing, and would like to thank all of my editors there who have supported me over the years.

There has been other freelance work here and there — including a bunch of stuff for CNNGo, and my upcoming contributions to the Rough Guides series — and if Néojaponisme has maybe looked as if it has slowed down, I assure you that it continues to run at a fine pace — offering commentary that you really don’t see anywhere else — and I can tell you that editor-in-chief Marxy has some plans to keep the site as relevant in 2010 as it has been so far.

But what has me most excited are the personal projects — some of them new, some of them renewals — that I’ve been able to re-ignite over the past few months. It mostly started with the big design update for this site back in September — something I’d been wanting to do for ages — and then followed by the PauseTalk site and logo (the Cafe Pause blog will surely see a big change soon-ish too). And speaking of PauseTalk, this year was really an important one due to an amazing amount of support from participants, with attendance regularly reaching the 25-30 range (even hitting 38). Next summer will mark PauseTalk’s fourth anniversary, and I’m already planning on doing something special to commemorate — and don’t you know, I think it will fall on my birthday, May 31.

More recently, there was the launch of my gaming site, Game, where I recommend titles I really like, updated 3-4 times a week. The idea here was to give permanence to all of the recommendations I tended to tweet, and also have a format that is simple and to the point, with a presentation that didn’t feel too game-y.

Although the name might sound game-related, my other new project was the PLAY series of casual DJ nights at Cafe Pause. The excuse here was to force me to dig deeper inside my music collection, and to have a place where I can listen to it in a “night out” ambiance. Sharing the music as a podcast just came naturally, and wasn’t something I originally intended to do. I’ve had a lot of fun so far, and you can expect to see the series continue in 2010, with maybe a few twists along the way.

Radio OK Fred was also reborn, and in part thanks to PLAY as it was the software I found for it — Djay — that gave us (me, Audrey, and Yoshi) a way to finally record an entire show (talk and music) live, with no editing session required at the end, which is what I always didn’t much enjoy. I hope everyone enjoyed our recent Xmas episode, and once the holidays are done with, expect new episodes on a regular basis. There’s also a lot of other interesting and exciting things happening on the OK Fred front, but that’s something that will have to wait for another time.

I’ll finish by finally revealing what that other web project I’ve been teasing for a while is really all about. It’s something I’ve been itching to launch for what feels like forever. In short, I will be launching a web magazine, and it will be called SNOW — I know, how original. The idea is that you’ll see a lot of the things there that you see here, but without the limits of what a “personal blog” means. That starts with a more interesting way of presenting content, but also will bring contributions by others, and that’s something I’ll expand on some other time. It’s something I’m really excited to have in the works, and hopefully it won’t be too long before I can actually have it up and running in a state that I’m happy with.

So there you have it, my 2009 to 2010, which I’m sure will also include a few unexpected — or still secret — developments to spice things up even more.

Rough Guides

As 2009 comes to an end, I’m very happy to report that one of the projects that will be keeping me busy during the start of 2010 will be work on the upcoming fifth editions of The Rough Guide to Tokyo and The Rough Guide to Japan (due for release in 2011). I’ll be contributing to both, but mostly on the Tokyo guide — joining author Simon Richmond — with contributions to the Japan guide limited to Tokyo and surrounding areas. For more on the Rough Guides series, check out the official site.

Kokuyo Design Awards 2009

The winners of the Kokuyo Design Awards 2009 — a competition for stationery design — were just announced, with the grand prize going to Nao Asanuma’s “Roots” work table (above). Below, a few of the runners-ups. Via Spoon & Tamago.

Kazunari Kodama’s “Flower” tack.

Shohei Ono’s “Margins” notebook.

Satomi Tanabe’s “Plant & Ground” pen holder.

Kaneko Hisahide’s “Black and White Graduation” ruler.