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.

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.

Happening at Tokyo Design Week 2009

  • Yes, it’s that time of the year again, Tokyo Design Week is just around the corner, this year kicking off on a Friday instead of the traditional Wednesday, running October 30 to November 3. Best way to find out about everything that’s going on is to pick up the guides to the events — they should be popping up around town soon — and of course to check out the official event websites: DesignTide, 100% Design Tokyo, Tokyo Designers Week, Swedish Style, and Design Touch.
  • So instead of “Happening in Tokyo” event posts, time to start some “Happening in TDW” ones. I still don’t know how much I’ll be able to take in because of my back (it’s much better, if still painful at times), but I’m still going to try and sample as much as I can.
  • Currently I’m most looking forward to the DesignTide opening party on Friday night (although I believe it’s not a public event). It’s always a good opportunity to get a first glimpse at everything, and chat up the attendees.
  • More of a pre-TDW event, this month’s PechaKucha Night in Tokyo (Vol. 66) happens this Wednesday (October 28), and it will of course have a TDW flavor to it. This will also be the first PKN I attend in quite a few months, so happy to be able to join up with team PKN again.
  • Berlin’s DMY will be participating at DesignTide, with products and prototypes from 14 Berlin-based designers.
  • Designboom presents Hermès Paris: “A design adventure from high-quality bags to helicopters and yachts, an online graphic competition for the upcoming tie collection and the world preview in Tokyo of new high-tech suitcases. A presentation of the most recent development inside the Hermès design department, and a Q&A with design director of Hermès Gabriele Pezzini conducted by Birgit Lohmann (Designboom).” It happens at the design conference/forum space at the 100% Design Tokyo venue in Jingu Gaien on October 31 (12:00-13:00).
  • And of course, don’t miss the Designboom Mart, again a part of 100% Design Tokyo.