Good Design Award 2016

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It’s always fun to take a look at the winners of the annual Good Design Award — and for me, when I was writing my “On Design” column, it would give me ideas on products to cover that I had somehow missed throughout the year. The 2016 lineup was recently announced, and the Grand Award went to what you see pictured here, the AuthaGraph World Map — read more about the map in this Spoon & Tamago post. Take a look at the rest of the winners here.

Reason Behind Forms

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I’ve been a longtime fan and supporter of the work of Nosigner (aka Eisuke Tachikawa, whose monicker is now the name of his firm), covering many of his early works in my “On Design” column and elsewhere, and it makes me happy to see that he’s gotten to a point where he’s headlining his own show at the Ginza Graphic Gallery (“Reason Behind Forms,” running this month until October 31). One of the main installations in the show is what you see pictured, which represents all of the technology that has been engulfed within the iPhone. There’s more to see in this Spoon & Tamago post.

2005

This weekend I managed to finish going through the posts of 2005 (all 1063 of them). As I was going through these posts, I could see that it was a really important year for me. My first professional writing work started in 2004 as I became editor of MoCo Tokyo (a spinoff site to MoCo Loco, where I was also a contributor), and then at the very end of that year I started my monthly anime and design columns for Tokyo Q, but it was in 2005 that I started my monthly “On Design” column for The Japan Times, wrote for Gawker’s Gizmodo and Gridskipper, and also wrote some other freelance pieces. I’d definitely point to that year as the start of my writing career.

It was also the year I started writing almost weekly round-ups of Japanese magazines — which years later led to me starting the now-defunct The Magaziner website. It was also the year of me and Jesper’s first big collaboration together, in the form of our “Mamma Gun” exhibition/event at Cafe Pause, part of Swedish Style/Tokyo Design Week.

I’m pretty thankful that I can go through archives of my life like this, and see exactly how things happened and evolved.

House Vision 2

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It’s too late to take in the “House Vision 2” exhibition (it ended this past Sunday) but you can still experience some of the highlights courtesy of this Japan Times piece, written by Mio Yamada, who was the last editor of my “On Design” column (and who continues to write it now). The exhibition offered a look at what future homes could be like, with designs by renowned architects.

This Is October

This is this, and that’s that.

A bit of an update on the various things I’m involved with, starting with the very happy announcement that was made a week ago that PressPause is coming back for a second season, starting on Thursday, November 6 (at 20:00). We – me and my fellow organizers, Daryl Cole and Ryan Ruel – wanted to take some time to reconfigure things, in order to produce something that would work better in light of what we experienced with season 1. I explain it more in detail in this post on the PressPause site, but in short, we want it to feel more inclusive to people who can’t really commit to spending a lot of time on producing an actual finished game, but who still want to get a taste of what it takes to make one. We’ll still have lessons – and homework for those who want to put into practice what they learned – but we’ll also have a speaker each time, and we have a nice ending in mind that we’ll talk about more next year.

So if you’re interested in the making of games, and more specifically using Unity as a tool to make that happen, then please join us. You’ll find updates on the PressPause site, and you can now follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or subscribe to a newsletter.

As for PauseTalk, I apologize again for cancelling this month’s edition due to the typhoon. The typhoon business was actually all done fairly early in the day, and so there wouldn’t have been a problem, but I had to make the decision the day before, and didn’t want to take a chance – especially that we tend to get a lower turnout even when it’s just a rainy day. 

PauseTalk Vol. 82 will instead happen on Monday, November 10 – yes, it’s on the second Monday of the month instead of the first, to avoid clashing with the holiday and the end of Tokyo Designers Week. Hope to see a nice turnout then.

Although I’m not involved in producing PauseDraw, I’m really happy to see what’s happening with the series under the leadership of Luis Mendo, Adrian Hogan, and Eiko Nagase. After a summer hiatus, they were planning on restarting last week, which was also cancelled because of the typhoon, and so instead it’s happening today (Sunday, October 12). Follow them on Facebook or Twitter to stay updated on upcoming editions.

Lastly – but certainly not leastly – is our big Tokyo Designers Week edition of PechaKucha Night at the end of the month. As with the past couple of years, we’re having a big event under the dome on the TDW grounds, in a space that can hold up to 1000 attendees. I think we have a great lineup planned – with a possible surprise or two – and I’m especially happy that we got the creative director and lead dancer at the Robot Restaurant to present – should make for a fun presentation. It happens on Wednesday, October 29, and you’ll find the rest of the details here.

Oh, and I don’t mention it much here, but I do still write my monthly “On: Design” column for The Japan Times, which now gets published on the first Saturday of the month. The latest edition was published last week, and can be read online here.

So yeah, a big October (and start of November) with lots happening. Add to that much cooler weather and you have the makings of some nice times here in Tokyo.

Global PechaKucha Day – Inspire Japan

If you’ve been to the front page of this site sometime this week (I have to assume that many of you reading this in your feed reader), then more than likely you’ve noticed the giant banner I have there now. It’s for the big Global PechaKucha Day – Inspire Japan event I’ve been working on over the past few weeks, set to happen this Saturday (April 16). I alluded to it in a recent post, but if you don’t know about it, it’s a big charity event we’ve put together, bringing together the PechaKucha community — we’re 404 cities strong, as of this writing — for a day/night of events all over the world, with the goal of raising funds for reconstruction efforts in Japan. As with last year for Haiti, we’re teaming up with Architecture for Humanity.

The core of the event is on Saturday, with a whole bunch of cities holding PKNs, and a lot of them will be streaming live as well — just go to the Inspire Japan site on the day of the event, and whatever is currently streaming live should be up at the top of the site. But our Inspire Japan efforts will also span all of April and May, and we’re inviting organizers of all PKNs during this period to collect donations — because this all came together so suddenly, many cities were not able to re-schedule already planned events, and some just found it difficult to organize something on the 16th.

Here in Tokyo, instead of our regular home of SuperDeluxe, the event will be held at the Roppongi Hills Tokyo City View (52nd floor), with doors opening at 17:00, and presentations starting at 18:00 (it should run until around 21:30 or so). Entry will be a minimum donation of 1000 yen — you’re of course welcome to leave more. To access the event, you’ll need to go to the 3rd floor to get a free ticket to get to the top, and we’ll have signs there to point you to the event space (where you’ll pay the entry fee).

This will also be the first time I present in quite a while — I only presented once at a PechaKucha Night, 3-4 years ago at a special Tokyo Design Week edition with my friend Jesper (it was about the Swedish Style event we had organized at Cafe Pause). This time, I’ll be teaming with Ian, who is responsible for all of the Inspire Japan graphics you’ve been seeing. The presentation will pretty much be about design efforts to raise money for Japan aid, based on that post I started a few days after the quake, as well as the follow-up I did in last month’s edition of my “On Design” column for The Japan Times. For his part of the presentation, Ian will cover the projects he worked on to help raise awareness and collect donations.

The event should be amazing — I mean, you can’t really beat that view — and you’ll also be contributing to reconstruction efforts, so I urge you all to come and support us. Also, if you’d like to help spread the word, feel free to get and use Inspire Japan banners and ads that Ian created, as well as a very cool (and workable) QR code that SET Japan designed for us.

Where to Find Me

Every month or so, Warren Ellis puts out a post on his site in which he explains where you can find him on the web and elsewhere — sort of a monthly updated FAQ on what he’s up to — and I figure I should do one as well, since I’m sure that someone who has just arrived to my site for the first time might have trouble understanding what exactly I’m up to these days.

First off, this week saw the launch of my latest project, The Magaziner, a new site that will cover the growing push of magazine into the digital world — something I’ve been covering here for a couple of months now, but realized it made more sense to create a proper space for it. It is also accompanied by a Twitter account, which I’m now using for my magazine-related tweets, and has a Facebook fan page too.

Last month I also launched a new weekly music podcast I call Codex. It’s usually me playing a selection of 10 tracks, but I’ll have the occasional themed shows (like the next one), guest episodes (soon), and I’m also going to start adding what I call the Codex Coda, short guest mixes. You can download all previous episodes here and subscribe to an RSS feed — it’s in the iTunes Store too.

Radio OK FRED is the long-running music podcast series I do with Editions OK FRED‘s Yoshi Tsujimura and Audrey Fondecave, and although it’s been on yet another extended break (apologies for that), it still pops up every once in a while, and I’m hoping we’ll be able to make 1 or 2 new episodes this month.

Then there’s PauseTalk, my monthly creative talk event that takes place at Cafe Pause here in Ikebukuro. We’re on a bit of a break this month and the next (due to the holiday slowdown), and so the next edition will take place February 7. If you’ve never been there, it’s a very casual salon-like atmosphere, where a bunch of “creatives” basically get together and discuss topics that affect us, share projects, ask for advice, etc.

SNOW Magazine is the natural extension that was launched at the start of the year for all of the Tokyo/Japan-related art/design/culture coverage I used to do on this blog for many, many years. Although most of the content is provided by me, it does include the occasional guest columns and feature. SNOW also has a presence on Facebook and Twitter.

That means that this place, JeanSnow.net, is again a hub for all of my activities, so don’t come looking for Japan-related news, really. I’m on Twitter as well — where some say I actually tweet too much — and of course Facebook.

On the book side of things, while I’ll remind you that my previous contributions — Arcade Mania and Tokyolife — make for great holiday gifts, next up will be the release early next year of the fifth editions of The Rough Guides to Tokyo and Japan.

And although it doesn’t get updated as much as I’d like, my little gaming corner — simply called GAME — still features a host of games that I like a lot. I’ll try and get back to adding a few each month.

The PLAY series, where I would spin virtual discs at Cafe Pause every once in a while, is also on hiatus, and I think it has pretty much been taken over by Codex. I actually want to occasionally record some live Codex shows from the cafe.

You can also still catch my monthly design column for The Japan Times, “On Design,” which is published on the last Thursday of every month. It focuses on product design, and each one usually has me recommending five new items. I also contributed two items to the Japan Timesholiday gift guide piece, which was published today.

And even though I don’t really contribute anything in the written sense, I would say that I’m a “spiritual” contributor to Néojaponisme, David Marx‘s web journal that covers social and cultural aspects of Japan, which explains my editor-at-large title. Although the site has slowed down a bit this year in terms of new content, expect a bunch of great year-end reflections to appear later this month.

I’m also a proud member of Luis Mendo’s Goodfellas Network, and more specifically part of the GOOD Inc. Japan team. If you’re looking for a terrific group of people to work on a magazine-related project (print or digital), then please get in touch.

Last, but CERTAINLY not least, I continue my work as Executive Director of PechaKucha, where my role is mostly behind-the-scenes, but I also provide a public face through the PechaKucha Daily blog, and on Twitter. Local PKN organizers from around the world are the people I mostly deal with, but do feel free to get in touch if you have any questions regarding all things PechaKucha, whether it’s about holding a one-off PK event, starting a regular PKN series in your city, or anything else you may have on your mind. Since the organization is run as a non-profit, sponsorship enquiries and collaborations are also VERY welcome!

So there you have it, and if all of this wasn’t enough, do feel free to email me with any question you may have.

My Design Column for the Japan Times

I haven’t mentioned it in a while, but I do still contribute a monthly design column to The Japan Times newspaper. It’s called “On Design” and it is composed of five products I pick/recommend, and it is always published on the last Thursday of the month, which means that this month’s edition was in today’s paper (and it’s online here). This month I start out with a bit on Tokyo Design Week, and then I recommend Kyouei Design‘s Cube Letter Set, &design‘s Bird Alarm Clock, Shin Azumi‘s AP Stool, and the.‘s Speak-er.