The city of Tokyo has been in great excitement from 10th to 14th of October. Tokyo Designers Block, a festival of various kinds of design, had started and main areas in Tokyo, such as Aoyama and Harajuku were used as an exhibition space. The topic was 'design makes a city'. It can be said that this event is a meeting of design activities, because about 200 artists and creators not only from within Japan, but also from all over the world participated in it. People with a yellow 'TDB map' seemed to enjoy to look at designed works, which were placed everywhere in town. I would mainly like to report about the exhibitions in Aoyama and Harajuku.
Azumi is the unit of Mr and Mrs Azumi based in London. They have received many of honourable awards for their works, such as the 100% Blueprint Design Award (UK) and the Good Design Award (Japan). UN cafe garden, which is located on the basement floor at Aoyama Cosmos Building, was the exhibition space for them in this event. Many plants were set around a bench and chairs made of thin orange steel. It was really enjoyable to look at the colour contrasts. The design of a cross-shaped blue table was functional as well as pretty. There was just enough space to put a small thing (i.e. a bag) in the middle. A salt- and peppershaker shaped like a snowman was lovely, too. I felt like being there as long as possible as if it were a real cafe.
Idee Design Competition 2001 was held at Spiral on Aoyama dori. Visitors to this competition and votes at web site chose the winner by judging the theme 'interchangeable'. Many functional and funny works, such as Kazutoshi Amano's work 'Drop', which can be used as a cushion on the floor as well as like a sofa placed by the wall and '3 in 1' made by Dan Rayed, which is not only a small table but also a steel chair, obtained attention from the visitors. The appropriate price for selling and suggestions for making more attractive works were considered when the visitors voted. They seemed to be serious but enjoy looking around.
A-Poc Aoyama is located 5 minutes by walk from Spiral. This was the exhibition space for Ron Arad's chairs. He was born in Israel, grew up in London and is now teaching product design at the Royal Academy of Art. He exhibited two chairs called 'The Big Easy (1998) Carbonfiber Version 2001' and 'The Little Baby (1989) Carbonfiber Version 2001'. The same designs made with stainless steel were introduced before. The chairs, looking like black shining objects, were found at the entrance of a clothes' shop dealing with colourful clothes.
White dishes made by Michael Young, Marc Newson and Jasper Morrison could be found on the first floor at Idee shop. There were a plastic cup and a paper-shaped glass dish by Newson, a bowl and a cup shaped like a holding saucer by Young, as well as dishes which were simpler but of wider shape by Morrison which impressed visitors from around the world.
Two exhibition places had been set for Daisaku Cho and Idee Shop Pacific was used as the chair exhibition called 'Re-design'. There emerged two directions in re-design: on the one hand, there was Jan Prube's small chair with wooden legs which was re-designed from a small chair with iron legs at a cafeteria. The other one was re-designed from Junzo Isikura's 'low chair made with bamboo basket'. There were many other re-designed chairs in the exhibition. Those chairs and other objects made with calm coloured leather and material created a unique atmosphere under the low light.
Daisaku Cho also participated in 'The Handrail Project' held at Gallery 412. This project was carried out with the title 'when I'm 64'. He focused on a handrail. His style of design, which uses the grain of wood effectively with gentle curves, implied the aim of this project focused on the tenderness and beauty of handrails.
Tom Dixon gave a performance of making spaggetti-shaped plastic forms using a machine at La Foret Museum Harajuku. He basically likes craftworking, such as making baskets and glasswork, and succeeded in cutting the cost of creating works because he is using a plastic and there is no need for using a mold. Not only Dixon, but also other artistsand visitors struggled to create their own objects with plastic therebut in the same time seemed to be enjoying the experiment. AZUMI made three linked object, Air Conditioned made pasta with a fork and Peter Christian made a mask with his family.
Karim Rashid had his exhibition at United Arrows Harajuku Annex and Distric United Arrows. 'Toribowl', 'Biboul' and hand towels (they were on sale as well) were displayed at Annex. The hand towles were pretty popular as half of them were sold by the 13th. A coulourful chair called 'OU Chair' and 'Thermo Chair' made of felt were displayed at District Untied Arrows. 'Thermo chair' was designed for Idee. A technique using in car manufacturing was used in order to create the form of this chair. "There is no uselessness in a form which is soft, comfortable to sit on and simple. People's mental sense only can be found in this chair", said Rashid.
The city of Tokyo changed itself to a design gallery during the festival. Design loving youngsters, couples who were hanging around the town as if they were in an art museum, designers from within Japan and all over the world... Everybody enjoyed playing with recently created design..
Tokyo Designers Block 2001
Date: October 10 - 14 2001
Place: Harajuku, Aoyama, Nishiazabu, shibuya, Daikanyama, Ebisu, Tokyo