After wowing hipsters the world over with the first T-Site in Tokyo’s upmarket Daikanyama district three years ago, Tsutaya continues its quest to stop being the Blockbuster of Japan and be taken seriously as a sophisticated retailer: Shonan T-Site opened in mid-December, a complex of over 30 stores.
Like its Tokyo predecessor, the new T-Site in the beach resort area of Shonan, some 50km from the capital, is sleek and curated, with an uber-hip bookstore, restaurants, cafes, an Apple reseller, and even a posh FamilyMart convenience store. The same design team, led by architecture studio Klein Dytham, is behind the latest addition to Culture Convenience Club’s money-spinners.
Mark Dytham told The Japan Times: “The goal of the space is, as Tsutaya puts it, ‘cultural navigation.’ In an era when you can get everything online, what’s the point of shopping? I have 13 million Spotify tracks on my phone but don’t know what to play. Virtually everything is available on Amazon. The T-Site projects give you something you cannot get online: curation and concierges who know intimately about which section they oversee, whether it’s cars, food, travel, design, photography, fashion.”
So the white cubes from the Daikanyama complex are still here, along with the range of curated retail options. What is different is the location, of course, since Shonan is a beach area full of surfing and sun. That said, the money is still there, since Shonan is a plush area home to the well-to-do who can afford the long commute to Tokyo (think the elite families who gave us the taiyo-zoku in the 1950′s), and Tokyoites with second homes in the peninsula.
Shonan T-Site is actually part of something bigger and quite exciting — Fujisawa Sustainable Smart Town (FSST), a model town for the future being developed by Panasonic.
As Panasonic puts it: “[Shonan T-Site is] not a site just for selling products. It’s a base for inspiring residents and visitors to the Shonan area, nurturing new lifestyles, and making this lifestyle known to people outside the town. Lifestyles born in the town called Fujisawa SST have great potential to affect lifestyles in Japan, and furthermore, in the world.”
You can grab a coffee at the customized designer Starbucks or indulge in some designing of yourself since, following in the craze arguably started by the likes of Fab Cafe in Shibuya, you can use 3D printers and laser cutters in the upstairs lounge area, or even try out Panasonic home appliances in a special tryvertising space called Square Lab Ferment.
The Daikanyama complex was touted as an attempt to meet the retail needs for middle-aged or older moneyed urbanites in search of experiences worthy of Daikanyama — quiet, curated, expensive. That said, its demographic is always mixed, full of younger couples on dates in Daikanyama, though they may not necessarily make a purchase.
Shonan has some of this too, since the population is older and life is slower, but there are also plenty of young visitors in the summer, who may want to combine a trip to Enoshima beach with some browsing at T-Site. Look for it to get busier as the weather get warmer.
When Wieden + Kennedy Tokyo released Type at the start of the year it got a lot of buzz from both eyewear lovers and typeface fans. Japanese typology design is respected around the world and its eyewear brands are very innovative, as we frequently report on this blog.
What Type did that was so awesome was take the Garamond and Helvetica fonts and actually use them as the design motif.
The resulting eyewear range integrated the look of the actual fonts into the design of the spectacles themselves.
There were three weights — light, regular or bold — and three colors (clear, black or tortoise).
Now they have launched two more lines based on a pair of new fonts — Din and Futura.
The name, Type, is a play on its meaning as “font” but also as in “character”, that is, you are the kind of glasses you wear.
The concept says:
You are a character. You have a voice and a style. You’re straight or you’re odd. You’re classic or complicated or light or clunky or simple. And you are what you are and that’s good. Because that makes your type the type we like.
Din is a German font from the 1930′s (the name stands for Deutsches Institut für Normung) and can be found on manhole covers in Germany. It is a polished, neutral design that lends itself to a variety of utilities. Futura, on the other hand, featured on German Deutschmark bank notes. The modern-looking font is rounder and is a common sight in brand logos.
Like the previous line-up, the new Type font eyewear is available from Oh My Glasses and also Shibuya Loft.
Here’s a great Christmas gift idea and it likely doesn’t get more Japanese than this.
Turn your feet into raw fish now with the Sushi Socks.
And you can’t find a more iconic Japanese food than sushi.
This colorful leg wear fit almost all sizes and are based on actual popular sushi dishes.
JapanTrendShop is offering a set of six, kind of like when you get a mori-awase platter in a sushi restaurant. They can be folded up to look like pairs of sushi on a plate, the white part of the sock looking like the rice, while the “fish” being the colored patterns.
There’s salmon, tuna, octopus, shrimp, and red caviar in this set, each with the name of the sushi dish written in Japanese on the sock.
No, those are not stars in a planetarium. They are watch parts.
Spiral’s trademark atrium space was transformed by Citizen into “Light is Time”, a special installation that saw countless watch parts suspended by wires and shimmering in the shifting light.
The Aoyama space was packed with Tokyoites understandably desperate to see the mechanical parts become art. There were 80,000 main gold plates, the basic component of a watch, glittering in the atrium (and making it hard for those smartphones to focus).
The epicenter of the installation was an old silver 1920′s pocket watch, the origin of Citizen’s monozuri.
The installation also featured a central projection on the floor of the inner workings of a timepiece, plus videos showing close-ups of the intricate work Citizen does to create its watches.
Created by architect Tsuyoshi Tane (DGT) and technical director Yutaka Endo (Luftzug), “Light is Time” ran at Spiral Garden from November 14th to November 28th, after having first wowed crowds at the Milan Design Weeek 2014.
Shiseido Hanatsubaki, Geppo and Graph magazine archives document rich history of Japanese cosmetic advertising and graphic designWritten by: William on November 25, 2014 at 11:04 am | In CULTURE | No Comments
Shiseido’s Hanatsubaki digital archive is a fascinating glimpse back into Japan’s cosmetics advertising past.
Drawing on the graphic design and ads featured over the years in Hanatsubaki, Shiseido’s consumer magazine founded in 1937, and its previous publications Shiseido Geppo (started in 1924) and Shiseido Graph (1933), the archive is a veritable treasure trove.
Shiseido has just added some new Shiseido Geppo (Shiseido Monthly) images from the December 1930 issue, giving us an excuse to indulge in selections from its previous archives. The changing style of the design obviously reflects the progress of both the social and publishing scene.
Shiseido Geppo, 1924
Shiseido Geppo, July 1930
Shiseido Geppo, December 1930
Shiseido Graph, June 1935
Shiseido Graph, 1936 Issue 31
Shiseido Graph, 1937 Issue 45
Shiseido Graph, 1937 Issue 49
Shiseido Hanatsubaki, January 1940
Shiseido Hanatsubaki, March 1952
Shiseido Hanatsubaki, July 1953
Shiseido Hanatsubaki, April 1960
Shiseido Hanatsubaki, June 1962
Hanatsubaki, Shiseido’s “corporate culture magazine”, still continues today. Its name is derived from the Japanese camellia flower and which of course Shiseido has also created a whole line of Tsubaki hair products.
See more images at the Shiseido Hanatsubaki digital archive.
Japan’s biggest design showcase Tokyo Designers Week (TDW) landed again for the year in the Gaienmae Aoyama area.
We went along to check out the exhibits. Here are our highlights.
Real estate company Chintai are a regular face at TDW. Here they created a “Tokyo Merry-Go-Round” with artist Asami Kiyokawa.
At the Robot Exhibition we liked this “clapping robot”, a kind of large version of the Pachi Pachi Clappy. Maywa Denki also participated in this part of TDW, showing off their latest instrument toy, Mr Knocky.
This was more mysterious. Artist and digital sculptor Noriko Yamaguchi created the “Keitai Girl Suit Chi”, whose entire body is covered in cellphone (keitai) keypads. It was a contemplation on how touch is still important to communication.
Here we entered the Uncanny Valley. The android Asuna was a “receptionist” created by A-Lab.
This booth was very popular, a manga sticker world presented by Toyo Ink and manga-ka Shintaro Kago.
DNP and Kengo Kuma teamed up with technology that allows you to print directly onto a tree, fusing the texture of metal with wood and promising a “new materiality”.
The outdoor schools section featured this “Tanjo no Katachi” by Nihon University, a primitive representation of form itself.
Staying outside, these kids seemed to love this container installation designed by Sebastian Masuda (an art director for Kyary Pamyu Pamyu).
It wasn’t all “new” stuff, though. A special pavilion was devoted to the work of Edo-era ukiyoe print artist Hokusai.
Here the Hokusai prints came into digital life. Using a special interactive app, holding up your phone brought the flat images into colorful life on your mobile screen.
Shiori Yano’s “MOTHERS MOUNTAIN” bottled up motifs of street culture.
Finally, Sato Sugamoto’s “Non-Verbal Communication” shows two “hats of thought” of two people meeting and trying to communicate.
UK design studio johnson banks has come up with this brilliant take on Japanese katakana that combines the phonetical reading of the character in the font.
They call it Phonetikana.
The font came out in 2009 but for some reason Japanese and other blogs have just discovered it. It’s a nice idea for making Tokyo signage more accessible to foreign visitors at the 2020 Olympics.
Multiple trips to Japan and constant frustration at being unable to read the language has sparked off an unusual typographic project at johnson banks. Earlier in the year we started seeing if we could combine the English language and Japanese script in some way.
One of the three typographic styles that is used in Japan is essentially phonetic, and is called Katakana. We’ve been attempting to find ways to incorporate phonetic sounds with the Katakana letterforms.
Here is the full syllabary.
Here is Uniqlo.
And some of the Phonetikana are also pictographic. Here is “big apple”.
Here is “cheese”.
“Superhero” borrows a motif from a certain American comic book character.
This is “dokidoki”, an onomatopoeia for expressing excitement, here cleverly rendered inside a heart.
Sheep and cow sounds.
“Big in Japan” is literally inside the Japanese flag.
“Niko niko” — meaning laughter.
“Kurukuru” — meaning spinning around and around.
teamLab has got together with Gucci to create “Infinity of Flowers”, an interactive digital installation at the Gucci Shinjuku store from September 13th.
Visitors will be able to “touch” the flowers on the screen and see them bloom, scatter, grow and wither. The installation using a computer program to “paint” the flowers in realtime on the screen. The imagery on the display is created spontaneously by the system. We look forward to the video that will surely be made.
There will also be a teamLab work in display in the 8-meter window that faces Shinjuku-dori.
teamLab is an award-winning group of “ultra-technologists” working with digital experiential media. Its previous projects include a remarkable high school musical, an amazing digital mural of Tokyo at the Skytree, smart clothes hangers in a department store in Shibuya, and many more. This Shadow Dance and Shadowgraph video from early 2011 was a hit, not least because it seemed to adhere to everything we love about Japan — samurai swords and technology!
teamLab already has a florally-themed installation, “Time-blossoming Flowers”, at the new KITTE department store in Marunouchi.
“Infinity of Flowers” will run from September 13th to September 28th at the third-floor event space at Gucci Shinjuku. Entry is free.
Some of the best household items in Japan come courtesy of the brand Plus D, which works with a range of individual designers to come up with fun, original and practical objects.
Past successes include the Cup Men, a cameleon “hanging man” object that keeps the lid of your instant noodle cup shut while the hot water is working its magic, and then tells you by its changing color when your meal is ready.
Now here are the Animal Rubber Bands, stationery items that are guaranteed to liven up your work station.
There are two sets — Zoo and Pet. The former has an elephant, giraffe, hippo, ostrich, kangaroo and rhino, while the latter features a dog, cat, rabbit, duck, pig and turtle. (Apologies for the nitpicking, but who calls a “pig” or “duck” a pet?!)
The Animal Rubber Bands come courtesy of Passkey Design, a product design team set up in Tokyo in 1994. It consists of Yumiko Ohashi and Masanori Haneda.
These are actually the “wider” version of an earlier design. This model is more durable (because the bands are thicker) and is ideal for wrapping up a notebook, lunchbox, bag of potato chips, and so on.
Or just using to create fun ways to make animal scenes on your desk. After all, we are always looking for new strategies for distracting us from our duties at work.