Font-inspired eyewear brand Type launches new Din and Futura models

Written by: William on December 9, 2014 at 9:37 am | In PRODUCT INNOVATION | No Comments

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.

type font design eyewear japan din 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.

type font design eyewear japan din futura

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.

din type eyewear glasses japan

futura bold type eyewear glasses japan

Like the previous line-up, the new Type font eyewear is available from Oh My Glasses and also Shibuya Loft.

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Sushi Socks turn feet into raw fish

Written by: Japan Trends on December 8, 2014 at 9:24 am | In PRODUCT INNOVATION | No Comments

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.

sushi socks raw fish food footwear

While the tattoo tights street fashion is sadly on the wane and the tattoo armbands never really exploded like we hoped, perhaps it’s time to go back the basics.

And you can’t find a more iconic Japanese food than sushi.

sushi socks raw fish food footwear

sushi socks raw fish food footwear

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.

sushi socks raw fish food footwear

sushi socks raw fish food footwear

sushi socks raw fish food footwear

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Citizen “Light is Time” at Spiral transforms watch parts into glittering art installation

Written by: William on December 1, 2014 at 8:01 am | In CULTURE, PRODUCT INNOVATION | No Comments

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.

citizen light is time spiral garden installation watch parts installation milan

citizen light is time spiral garden installation watch parts installation milan

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).

citizen light is time spiral garden installation watch parts installation milan

citizen light is time spiral garden installation watch parts installation milan

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.

citizen light is time spiral garden installation watch parts installation milan

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.

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Shiseido Hanatsubaki, Geppo and Graph magazine archives document rich history of Japanese cosmetic advertising and graphic design

Written 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 hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

Shiseido Geppo, July 1930

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

Shiseido Geppo, December 1930

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

Shiseido Graph, June 1935

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

Shiseido Graph, 1936 Issue 31

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

Shiseido Graph, 1937 Issue 45

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

Shiseido Graph, 1937 Issue 49

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar 1950s 1960s 1940s 1930s

Shiseido Hanatsubaki, January 1940

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

Shiseido Hanatsubaki, March 1952

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar 1950's 1960's 1940's 1930s

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar 1950's 1960's 1940's 1930s

Shiseido Hanatsubaki, July 1953

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar 1950's 1960's 1940's 1930s

Shiseido Hanatsubaki, April 1960

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar 1950s 1960s 1940s 1930s

Shiseido Hanatsubaki, June 1962

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

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.

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Tokyo Designers Week 2014 Photo Report

Written by: Japan Trends on November 6, 2014 at 2:18 pm | In CULTURE, PRODUCT INNOVATION | No Comments

Japan’s biggest design showcase Tokyo Designers Week (TDW) landed again for the year in the Gaienmae Aoyama area.

tokyo designers week 2014 photos

We went along to check out the exhibits. Here are our highlights.

tokyo designers week 2014 photos

tokyo designers week 2014 photos chintai asami kiyokawa

Real estate company Chintai are a regular face at TDW. Here they created a “Tokyo Merry-Go-Round” with artist Asami Kiyokawa.

tokyo designers week 2014 photos clappy pachi pachi

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.

tokyo designers week 2014 photos noriko yamaguchi keitai girl suit

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.

tokyo designers week 2014 photos asuna android a-lab uncanny valley receptionist

Here we entered the Uncanny Valley. The android Asuna was a “receptionist” created by A-Lab.

tokyo designers week 2014 photos toyo ink co shintaro kago manga stickers

tokyo designers week 2014 photos shintaro kago manga stickers

This booth was very popular, a manga sticker world presented by Toyo Ink and manga-ka Shintaro Kago.

tokyo designers week 2014 photos kengo kuma dnp tree metal

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”.

tokyo designers week 2014 photos tanjo no katachi nihon university

The outdoor schools section featured this “Tanjo no Katachi” by Nihon University, a primitive representation of form itself.

tokyo designers week 2014 photos sebastian masuda container

Staying outside, these kids seemed to love this container installation designed by Sebastian Masuda (an art director for Kyary Pamyu Pamyu).

tokyo designers week 2014 photos hokusai exhibition

It wasn’t all “new” stuff, though. A special pavilion was devoted to the work of Edo-era ukiyoe print artist Hokusai.

tokyo designers week 2014 photos hokusai digital interaction

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.

tokyo designers week 2014 photos shiori yano mothers mountain

Shiori Yano’s “MOTHERS MOUNTAIN” bottled up motifs of street culture.

tokyo designers week 2014 photos sato sugamoto fashion non-verbal communication

Finally, Sato Sugamoto’s “Non-Verbal Communication” shows two “hats of thought” of two people meeting and trying to communicate.

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Phonetikana by johnson banks: A katakana font for foreigners

Written by: William on October 17, 2014 at 8:00 am | In PRODUCT INNOVATION | No Comments

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.

johnson banks phonetikana katakana phonetic reading alphabetic character font

Here is Uniqlo.

johnson banks phonetikana katakana phonetic reading alphabetic character font

Michael.

johnson banks phonetikana katakana phonetic reading alphabetic character font

And some of the Phonetikana are also pictographic. Here is “big apple”.

johnson banks phonetikana katakana phonetic reading alphabetic character font

Here is “cheese”.

johnson banks phonetikana katakana phonetic reading alphabetic character font

“Superhero” borrows a motif from a certain American comic book character.

johnson banks phonetikana katakana phonetic reading alphabetic character font

This is “dokidoki”, an onomatopoeia for expressing excitement, here cleverly rendered inside a heart.

johnson banks phonetikana katakana phonetic reading alphabetic character font

Sheep and cow sounds.

johnson banks phonetikana katakana phonetic reading alphabetic character font

“Big in Japan” is literally inside the Japanese flag.

johnson banks phonetikana katakana phonetic reading alphabetic character font

“Niko niko” — meaning laughter.

johnson banks phonetikana katakana phonetic reading alphabetic character font

“Kurukuru” — meaning spinning around and around.

johnson banks phonetikana katakana phonetic reading alphabetic character font

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Infinity of Flowers: teamLab and Gucci create interactive digital floral installation

Written by: William on September 10, 2014 at 1:56 pm | In CULTURE, PRODUCT INNOVATION | No Comments

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.

teamlab gucci infinity of flowers digital installation shinjuku japan tokyo

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.

team lab flower installation kitte tokyo marunouchi

They have a new permanent installation, “Vortex of Water Particles”, at Narita Airport’s Terminal 1 North Wing (joining their other installation at the South Wing that started last year).

“Infinity of Flowers” will run from September 13th to September 28th at the third-floor event space at Gucci Shinjuku. Entry is free.

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Animal Rubber Bands: Zoological ways to tie things up

Written by: Japan Trends on September 5, 2014 at 8:31 am | In PRODUCT INNOVATION | No Comments

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.

We also loved the Kaba crayons and the Cao Maru face stress balls.

animal rubber band wide set japanese design

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?!)

animal rubber band japanese design pet zoo

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.

animal rubber band wide set japanese design

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.

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Origami Humidifiers: Moisturizing the air in style

Written by: Japan Trends on August 25, 2014 at 2:52 pm | In PRODUCT INNOVATION | No Comments

Japan may well be the land of home electronics (Sony, Panasonic, Sharp, Toshiba et al) but on the whole apartments and houses are small. It only takes a few appliances for things to get very cluttered. But Japan is also the land of great design solutions to problems.

And so we have what we like to call “origami humidifiers”. Okay, so they’re not actually made from origami paper but they do work by evaporation rather than batteries or cords. In other words, the humidifier is a filter that water in a dish passes through to release moisture into the dry air. And they conjure up fantastic natural imagery that can transform clinical and bare Japanese urban apartments.

uruoi animal forest natural humidifier origami

One recent example is the Uruoi Animal Forest, a veritable landscape painting of creatures and natural scenery. There is a trio of zoological sights here. Spot the wolf, the stag and the rabbits, each in its own vibrant colors.

uruoi animal forest natural humidifier origami

The Uruoi humidifiers are a new series. Misty, on the other hand, have been around for a while and there are several variations on the market.

We especially love the Misty Tree, which is just that — a filter designed to look like foliage.

misty tree natural humidifier origami

It also comes in a baby version.

misty baby tree natural humidifier origami

The Misty Garden Second Apple Green will make you feel more like a gardener.

misty garden natural humidifier

The most compact we’ve seen in a while is the Tower Pot Humidifier, which you pull out into a standing humidifier filter.

tower pot natural humidifier origami

Meanwhile the Room Mist is now a standard model in this mini genre. It even comes in Hello Kitty and Disney versions.

room mist natural humidifier origami

As the humid summer gives way to the dry autumn and winter, perhaps it’s time to pop a humidifier like this on your desk?

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