Tee Dee Double You

If Tokyo Design Week takes place and you’re not there, does it really take place?

Apologies for the ridiculous statement, but as this year’s edition of Tokyo Design Week kicks off, it indeed feels incredibly strange to see it happen from afar. Even though in recent years I’d grown a bit disillusioned with a lot of what I’d see on display, there’s no denying that it consistently played a huge part within the evolution of what I did while based in Tokyo.

I got my start by blogging about art and design in Japan (more specifically, Tokyo) and I can indeed recall attending Tokyo Design Week (or rather the collection of design-related events that took place at that time, not specifically under that banner) during my first few years in Tokyo, and how it contributed to my enthusiasm for Japanese design.

Later, as I started carving a path in writing professionally about design – first for a now-defunct site called Tokyo Q, and then for The Japan Times through my monthly “On Design” column – I’m fairly certain that Tokyo Design Week (or more specifically at the time, “Tokyo Designers Week”) was the first major event for which I had a press pass to cover.

It didn’t take long before my desire to place myself more closely inside this scene had me collaborating with my good friend Jesper Larsson on showcases/exhibitions for Swedish design, that were part of the Swedish Style events that used to take place during TDW. It was incredibly exciting and satisfying to play a direct role in helping designers to take part in the week-long design festivities, and it also led to some fantastic connections with all manner of creative people. And who could forget those fantastic parties at the Swedish Embassy during TDW – always the best.

The last phase of my relationship with Tokyo Design Week was the most direct one, and it involved the annual PechaKucha Night that we produced for them in the big dome, which would end up being the biggest event of the week. It still doesn’t feel natural to see posts about this week’s PechaKucha Night at TDW, and not being the one who has to make sure that we have all of the presentations from our presenters, that all the tech is in place for the night itself…

So yeah, this time of the year coming around without a Tokyo Design Week to take in or to take part in is a bigger shock than I expected.

Miki Saito

I’m so happy to see artist Miki Saito getting a lot of attention these days.

The best thing about hosting PauseTalk all these years was that it gave me the chance to meet so many interesting and creative people, and Miki was one of those people. She was a regular attendee since returning to Japan.

She’s just launched her second exhibition this past week since moving to Tokyo – at Wada Garou – and instead of me describing her art, you can take a look at the articles on both Spoon & Tamago and The Japan Times.

Opening of Diesel Concept Store in Shibuya

Thursday night I was out in Shibuya for the opening reception of the new Diesel Concept Store, which opens to the public today (November 20). Like the Diesel Denim Gallery in Aoyama, the store features a gallery space, and the opening show is Simon Henwood and Fannie Schiavoni’s “Black Sun” (until February 23). I rather like the diner-like cafe/bar area, but I have no idea what the regular menu will have to offer.

The party itself was a bit too packed for my taste, although I did get a kick out of seeing Takashi Murakami waiting in line to get in when I was on my way out.

Art Space Tokyo Success

Some great news today: as of an hour ago, the Art Space Tokyo team reached their goal of raising $15,000 to reprint/update the book, as well as produce a free iPad version. Keep supporting the project though, because I know they low-balled the amount (if you don’t reach your goal on Kickstarter you get nothing) and so every bit more will help make sure Craig and Ashley can both devote the amount of time necessary to making this as awesome as it deserves to be.

Reviving Art Space Tokyo

My friends Craig Mod and Ashley Rawlings produced this terrific book a couple of years ago called Art Space Tokyo, you may have heard of it — I’ve certainly plugged it and recommended it countless times to anyone I talk to when it comes to the art scene in Tokyo. It has unfortunately been out of print for quite a while now, but Craig and Ashley recently got the rights back (as Craig is no longer involved with Chin Music Press), and they’ve launched a Kickstarter project to not only get an updated version of the book back in print, but to also produce a free iPad version. So go, and support what will undoubtedly be an awesome pair of products.

Corner

A new group show at the Nanzuka Underground gallery in Shibuya entitled “Corner” brings together the following four artists: Alexander Gelman, Paul Davis, Toast Girl, and Yuichi Yokoyama.

This exhibition presents the works of artists who continue to produce original works that are not influenced by the fashions and trends in the belief that the age-defining energy of art comes from these artists who stand apart. The title “Corner” suggests that the concept of art itself it about to turn a corner in the face of the extreme market oriented mentality that has seeped through the art world. The 4 artists on view may be outsiders in the current art scene. However art with vested interests is bound to be replaced by something else in the future. These 4 artists may be pointing to the possibility of that future.

“Corner” runs until February 6.