100% Hip City

By on November 4, 2008

We all know Tokyo is hip but Tokyo Designer’s Week kicks off at the end of October to make sure we don’t forget. Now in its 23rd year, the event is a mecca for designers from around the world. Last year, over 85,000 visitors, design professionals, and us lowly plebs came to the event. Every year interior shops, boutiques, galleries, and cafés hold small exhibitions of newly released products (centered at the heart of Tokyo in the Aoyama area) and a series of events and exhibitions brings together the finest of new designs from Japan and around the world for fans of it, young and old.

This year, six concurrent exhibitions, each showing off a different aspect of contemporary design, are here to woo us. The mix of trade show, commercial, and student exhibitions makes for an intriguing day out and an eye-opener for the youngsters to see beyond the conventional world of humdrum practicality.

The main space is in Jingu Gaienmae outer gardens on the sports field and houses 100% Design Tokyo, an exhibition of global proportions that takes place in a giant marquee. There are no tea parties here, just clear bold lines, cool curving forms, and an eclectic mix of streetwise design for us to drool over.

100% Design originated in 1995 in London, and is the UK’s leading contemporary interiors event. Having just wrapped up its show in London, it has been pushing the boundaries of design even further this year with its on-going collaboration with Tom Dixon – the show‘s Creative Director. Fellow design star Michael Young takes on the show design for 100% Design Tokyo with Gold as

the theme colour,  adding a  precious quality to the overall theme of this years Tokyo Designer‘s Week: Love.

The kids will get a kick out of seeing the latest designs and can rate the work of their peers as students from Japan’s art universities display their works at the 100% Future exhibit. Undoubtedly, the main attraction for any design-savvy family is the container show. The kids will love the Container Designing Town, where various brands, organisations, and embassies coexist in truck containers converted into galleries. There are lots of freebies and unusual experiences to be had. Each space is a rugged shipping container 40ft by 20ft. Designers have worked within these confines to produce a space to invigorate our bodies and minds. Some create interactive spaces demonstrating the latest technology to be employed in contemporary product design, some operate as galleries exhibiting graphic work, whilst others serve simply as store fronts, creating a Mad Max-ian vision of a shopping mall. The intriguingly titled Blickfang hails from northern Europe and is a smaller version of London’s 100% Design but with a more Germanic flavour, showing the newest and most innovative trends from Switzerland, Austria, and Germany.

The Zero Exhibition in the satellite venue of Akasaka Arc Hills aims to launch upcoming young designers (under 40). The winner of this design competition will be invited to exhibit at the coveted Milano Salone next year, effectively launching their career.

Last but by no means least, Design Tide takes place in Midtown, Roppongi. A suitably stylish location for what promises to  create more than just ripples in the world of design. Showcasing cutting-edge designers from a variety of disciplines that make up the art of design; interior and product design, architecture, graphic design, textiles, fashion, and art are all represented.

This year’s Design Tide is split into 3. The Tide exhibition, Tide market, and Tide extension with exhibits spread around Tokyo. There are so many exhibitions within exhibitions vying for our attention that it can be a bit confusing; 100% this and that, TDW & DT, but don’t worry. Just pop on your sunglasses and stroll around.

If you need a breather from looking at the objects of desire around you, turn to the people instead. The design world flocks to Tokyo to experience the best of international design and as you can see there is an awful lot of it. During the first week of November, you’ll spot groups of trendy adults in carefully selected  fashionable attire, with haircuts that are designed for younger heads and dark sunglasses concealing the debauchery from a week of launch parties. Check their low-lying jeans for a dog-eared printout of Superfuture’s guide to Tokyo sticking out of their back pocket. Try to conceal your sense of pride as you see the design elite fill their digital  cameras with the things we take for granted in our city. Enjoy Tokyo Design Week, hit the shows, do a bit of people watching, savor the

vibe and feel good about living in this 100% hip city.

Tickets can be purchased on line to ease congestion at the main site and also save a few pennies. www.tdw08.design-channel.jp

100% Design/Shop/Futures + Container show in Jingu Gaien – mae (Aoyama area Tokyo) www.100percentdesign.jp

Design Tide at Roppongi Midtown www.designtide.jp/08/en

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