Yuruliku’s Tokyo studio visit

While I was in Tokyo, I was glad to be invited to our Tokyo designer, Yuruliku‘s studio in Ochanomizu, an area which I have never visited before. There are many university campuses and musical instruments stores here (which I later discovered when my friend and I got very lost).

Foolishly, I left the address and map at the hotel and trying to find a cafe with free wi-fi turned out to be much harder than I thought. Eventually, I managed to download the address but even with the help from passerby’s mobile phone GPS, it still took ages to find the small studio by the river. Meanwhile, my camera’s battery also went dead, so I had to use my iphone to take these photos…

While we were lost, we passed by an interesting temple called ‘Yushima Sei Do’, which turned out to be a sightseeing attraction in the area. The 17th century temple is rather unusual because it is also known as the Confucius temple, and has the largest Confucius statue in the world. It was a shame that we didn’t have the time to visit the temple properly but we were glad to know of its existence!

When we eventually found the studio, it was already getting dark, but it was such a relief after wandering for so long! It was great to finally meet Koushi after communicating with him via emails for months and to see their whole collection.


My friend and I decided to buy their handmade greeting cards as they are limited in supply. These birthday cards are so wonderful that I will probably end up keeping them myself! Koushi and Kinue were very hospitable and gave me some Japanese candies that they had bought earlier for me. It made me feel guilty for arriving empty-handed…

To find out more about Yuruliku, click here for their website.




Good design award exhibition 2011

In Tokyo Midtown, I visited the Good design award exhibition 2011 exhibited this year’s award-winning Japanese designs. My favourite was DoCoMo’s ad for their Touchwood mobile phone, Xylophone of the Forest (click on the link to watch the amazing film). The campaign was cancelled because it launched on the day the tsunami hit Japan but the film was uploaded to Youtube and became a huge sucess. The film not only scooped the Good design award but also the Golden Lion at Cannes, a well-deserved winner.

Another winning design was created by one of my favourite Japanese stationery brands, D-Bros. They launched a new shop in Shinagawa and the ‘Stamp it‘ range where customers can customize their own stationery. Love the concept and graphics!

If I didn’t read the description, I wouldn’t have a clue about what these spoons could do! (please excuse the rather dark photo) They are called 15.0% and are designed by Naoki Terada (the designer behind the 1/100 architectural model greeting cards sold by us!). They are made of aluminium and with its high thermal conductivity, the temperature of the hand holding the spoon will slowly melt the frozen ice cream. The spoons also come in different shapes for different flavours! Click here for more details.

At the atrium inside the Galleria, there was also a Hermès paper pavillion, designed by architects Shigeru Ban and Jean de Gastines. Shigeru Ban is a visionary well known for his paper architecture esp. for housing earthquake victims. It was particularly interesting to see Hermès presenting their newly launched home collection inside a pavillion made of cardboard tubes!

At Mitsukoshi in Ginza, there were many interesting shibori products on display including lighting and fashion accessories.

Click here/ go to my Facebook page to see more photos…

Tokyo designers week/ Designtide 2011

I didn’t really expect to encounter obstacles when I planned my trip to Asia, but I guess life is full of unexpected surprises… First, I had to cancel my Bangkok trip 2 hours before my flight departure due to the floods; then I was warned about the high radiation scare in Tokyo by concerned friends. The latter didn’t bother me that much and I decided to stick with my original plan.

I first attended Tokyo designers week in 2009 and this was my second visit to the event. Though I wasn’t sure what to expect especially after what has happened to Japan earlier this year.

My conclusion of the show after my 2 visits was that there is definitely room for improvement. One of the problems I found was that Tokyo is big and a lot of exhibitions and events were scattered in different areas, though not all were easy to find (for those who have been to Tokyo, you will understand how hard it is to find a place even with the full address, map and GPS). Another was that the designers’ work shown at the main hub lacked focus and consistency even though there was a so-called theme, ‘love/ Arigato’. I lost interest after walking around for about 15 minutes because the layout was confusing and the work I saw didn’t appeal to me that much. As a huge fan of Japanese designs, I didn’t think the show highlighted their creativity and craftsmanship, instead it was a mishmash of work by design students, artists and foreign designers trying to sell their products to visitors.

For me, the more sucessful and interesting show was Designtide in Midtown. The layout was easy to navigate, airy and I was able to chat to the designers and asked them about their work. There was also a small exhibition within called ‘Mark-ing’ supported by the British Council that showed work by Japanese and British designers.

Among them, Ryuji Nakamura’s Fragment chair stood out because of its organic structure and form. Complex and yet simple.

Back in the main exhibition, there were also some interesting furniture and I particularly like Design soil, a design project by teachers and students in the product design department at Kobe design university. The aim was to create ‘compact’ furniture that could be dismantled, stored in a hand-luggage and brought onto a plane! I didn’t really get why people would want to carry furniture in their hand luggage but I like the designs of their furniture (esp. the bamboo-like coat hanger stand) and would buy them if they were in production.

The rather unique sets of furniture are produced by Morie Nishimura and are called ‘furniture of prayer’. The dresser is inspired by a church which can be used as your own sanctuary at night. The fireplace, on the otherhand, is a Buddhist altar where light is shone from above and illuminates the statue of Buddha inside. I wonder if this will do wonders to my meditation in the mornings? Just like most contemporary sanctuaries, they do not come cheap…

Un-do design’s hanger tree is another interesting piece…

I was quite intrigued by Daisuke Kitagawa’s project, Rename, which examines the functions of objects from a different perspective. Here, glasses and mugs are turned into vases, plant pots, pen and coin holders etc. Interesting.

Out of all the projects, Smile park x food action nippon’s Kup (edible products made of rice) was probably the oddest and yet most thought-provoking…The project aims to bring awareness of our eating habits and the relationship between using, eating and discarding. Though I am not sure why they used such a haunting tune in their Youtube video! Click here to watch…

As much as I love furniture and products, I was also hoping to find some cool stationery at the show. Sadly, there was hardly any except for the beautiful Mino Japanese paper stationery. I love the paper’s texture and patterns but all of them were only prototypes. We’ll have to wait for their official launch in spring 2012…

Last but not least, I love this apple pencil sharpener by Rabbit hole, it’s humourous and refreshing. I almost want to take a bite…