Archive for the ‘Design’ Category

Pecha Kucha


Last weekend I have been to the great SuperDeluxe club to attend the evening session of Pecha Kucha University Vol.1, a cooperation between the regular Pecha Kucha Night (organised by Klein Dytham Architecture) and Temple University. It was a very interesting night with so much input that I needed some time to get things in my brain in order to write about it. The overall topic of this first Pecha Kucha University was “Youth and Imaginative Labour: East Asia and Beyond”. There were in the fashion of the Pecha Kucha Night several speakers and every one of them had the time of 20 slides à 20 seconds (6min40sec) to present their idea, paper, research, whatever in connection to that topic. Most talked about various efforts to earn money with the internet, some were representing their favourite niche of youthculture and I didn’t really see the connection to the term “labour” all the time. But who cares, most of the prestentations were quite interesting and some very entertaining – like the one by a guy who was costumed as Goku from Dragonball. He came with a dancing crew of mostly male (!) cosplayers dressed in “moe” style who performed their dance two times – because of the great response from the audience… But there were also informative and rather academic lectures, all held by students from abroad (mostly Korea and HongKong). I wonder why there were no Japanese speakers?! Because the speech had to be hold in English, I guess.. the old problem.
After those presentations followed the screening of the fantastic movie Avalon, introduced by THE guru in the field of Japanese cinema, Donald Richie.
And as if all that wasn’t input enough there was a HipHop afterparty hosted by Zulu Nation Japan, with a Spoken Word performance by Marcellus Nealy and live painting by Rinpa Eshidan. I strongly recommend to have a look at their website – their work is amazing and they are something like “youtube celebrities” with one of their videos been watched more than 2 MILLION times.

As I said, this was Pecha Kucha University, not the regular Pecha Kucha Night, which is about architecture and design. If you are interested in that, going to SuperDeluxe club should be your plan for tonight, when young designers, architects and so on meet there again for another round of Pecha Kucha. And for all those of you who are not in Tokyo: Pecha Kucha Night has spread all over the world and you can attend it in more than 80 cities! All of upcoming events are listed on their website.

Canadian Style Opening Party on Saturday Feb. 4

Canadian Style

Wednesday of this week marked the beginning of the twelve-day long
and 日本語)
event that design maven Jean Snow

is producing at Cafe Pause in
Ikebukuro. There’s an opening party this Saturday night, February
4, starting at 7pm
. I plan to be there for it to find out just
what the hell this thing is all about – so hope to meet some other
curious and interesting people there too.

To get to Cafe Pause for the event, just make your way to the
Ikebukuro JR station, take the Seibu East exit and follow the
directions in the map below. (It’s only a 5-minute walk.) Or see the
Tokyo Art Beat page for Cafe
, where you’ll find other maps and a QR code you can use to
access and store directions on your mobile phone.

And since Cafe Pause is after all a cafe, in addition to the normal items on its menu — light meals, snacks, sweets, and a full drink menu ranging from lemonade, “lemon cola”, “triple berry soda” and a variety of tea and coffee drinks, to beer, wine, and cocktails (including some of their own original cocktails, with names like “May”, “Lily”, “Jun”, “Teany”, and “Florent”) — a few special Canadian-themed specialities will be available, including a special meat pie and a bunch of maple stuff, even a maple-flavored cocktail.

As far as what else to expect, here are a handful of details from Jean:

… various installations (the main participants include
designer Sonia Chow
and photographer/DJ Marc Xavier LeBlanc)… video projections,
compiled themed mixes of Canadian (most independent) artists, and an
interactive installation, “Red + White/Read + Write,”

But to find out more, well, you’ll just have to head
there on Saturday night and/or before the event concludes on February
12 and see it for yourself.

Note that Jean has also created a Flickr
photo set
for the event and is posting
up-to-date details at his site
as it proceeds.

Limited Edition Tokyo Art Beat T-shirts

Tokyo Art Beat T-Shirts

Some time back, Tokyo Art Beat asked five internationally known
artists and designers – Jonathan Barnbrook, Paul Cox, Power Graphixx
(Masahito Hanzawa), Noboru Tsubaki, and the Buro Destruct crew from
Berne Switzerland – to each create an original T-shirt design in
celebration of Tokyo Art Beat’s one-year anniversary.

The result is a set of
limited-edition T-shirts
, each with a unique design not available
anywhere else, in any other form. Only a very small number of the
shirts was printed
, and Tokyo Art Beat is making them available
only through the end of this month
(February 2006). Given the
small quantity produced, owning one is a bit like having a print
directly from the artist, restricted to a extremely small number of
copies. So the phrase “collectors item” is a
more-than-appropriate term to describe them.

And given Tokyo Art Beat’s rapid rise to success and ambitious
plans for the future, you definitely won’t have any better chance to
acquire an artifact that’ll mark you as a someone who’s been hip to
Tokyo Art Beat since “back in the day”

So head on over to the Tokyo Art Beat site now and place an
(日本語版). 5000
yen gets you your choice of any two shirts
in any sizes you’d like
(XS, M, L). Note also that they take international orders and can
ship internationally

The ordering page also has details about each of the artists who
created the shirt designs, as well as links to detailed images of each
design. Or follow the links below to get directly to those detailed

Jonathan Barnbrook  

Power Graphixx
Buro Destruct   Paul Cox
Noboru Tsubaki

Note that all proceeds from sale of the shirts goes to Gadago (the non-profit organization behind Tokyo Art Beat) and so will fund feature improvements at the site, and help them to cover more events at more galleries and museums and other art venues.

PechaKuchaNight Vol.29

Tomorrow night (January 25) at SuperDeluxe is the first PechaKuchaNight of 2006, PechaKuchaNight Vol.29

PechaKuchaNight is the best regularly occurring art/architecture/design event in town. It’s a sort of “open mike” opportunity for designers, architects, and artists to give short “20×20” presentations about their current or past projects. “20×20” because each presenter is limited to showing a maximum of 20 images, and limited to talking about each image for a maximum of 20 seconds.

If you want an idea of what to expect, read the PingMag report on PechaKuchaNight Vol.27 or see the list of presenters from Vol.28 in November.

It starts at 20:20pm. For directions, see the map (日本語 | English) at the SuperDeluxe site. Or see the SuperDeluxe listing at the Tokyo Art Beat site.

P.S.: One more month of PechaKuchaNight, and the building that my company is in runs out of floors and hence out of buttons on the elevator. I guess I’ll need to find a new job.

Potential employer: We think you’re great and we’d really like to hire you.

Me: OK, how many floors does this building have?

Tokyo Art Beat & News of Its Co-Founder’s Return to Design Consulting

Tokyo Art Beat
Among those people in Tokyo who have been following the local art
scene for any length of time, recorded history can be cleanly into two

The previous epoch (abbreviated as B.T. to distinguish it
from the current epoch, A.T.) was a sort of Dark Ages in which
we wandered about without much guidance of any kind – one in
which information about upcoming art/design openings and events and
locations of venues was transmitted through a primitive technology
referred to by a variety of names and abbreviations, including
WOM, whisper down the
, and el teléfono estropeado. It proved to be a
not-particularly efficient way to share information – one that
resulted in many people missing out on info about many openings and
, or in never being able to find their way to many of the
obscure little art venues situated far off in the hinterlands of the

But as I write this, in the year 1 A.T. (or in the opinion of some
scholars, 2 A.T.), we find ourselves in Tokyo in an entirely new
epoch. In this, a sort of modern Renaissance, we now have a single,
central, and easy-to-use system for finding out about upcoming
openings and events and venues
 – and for every piece of
information that might be associated with those: detailed descriptions
with images, exact times, venue addresses and phone numbers, maps, QR
codes, and more.

The system responsible for the art-information Renaissance that has
come about here is an extremely clever work of website and
web-application design called Tokyo Art Beat (TAB). And the two people to whom we principally owe our
gratitude for TAB are its co-founders: Olivier Thereaux and Paul Baron
(Olivier did most
of the work on the TAB information architecture and Paul
designed its user interface).

I don’t have room here to do justice to an adequate description of
the details that make TAB such a powerful piece of work. Just make
sure to go over there and check it out for yourself. What you’ll find
is an extremely clean and easy-to-navigate design that still manages
to provide an abundance of features
. And all of it completely
Japanese/English bilingual. And personalizable (through a MyTAB
feature). And with a companion mobile site as well – also
full-featured and beautifully designed.

And after exploring the TAB site(s), you might also want to head
over to Paul Baron’s personal site and check out his professional portfolio
. I think
you’ll probably find a few things to interest you there, too. And
you’ll also find an interesting bit of information at the site: a short and
understated posting from Paul
announcing that he has returned to
doing freelance/contract design work and consulting

I’m personally anxious to see what he might get involved with
next. Tokyo Art Beat – in all elegance and its ambitious
scale – was not Paul’s nor Olivier’s full-time work while it was
being created, but instead something that they worked on in their
after-hours. And though he only makes brief mention of “print” and
“usability/interface” as among the kinds of work he’s available for, I
know from talking with him that he has serious chops outside of just
website design
 – for example, work in print media (brochure
design, editorial design) and work in application
usability/user-interaction/interface design.

So I reckon that if you have a current or upcoming project in the
planning that would benefit from the full attention fo a
skilled designer with a record of very interesting ideas and work, it
certainly wouldn’t hurt to contact Paul and find out if he might be available.

PechaKuchaNight Vol.26

26 Tonight I’m headed out to SuperDeluxe for PechaKuchaNight Vol.26, this month’s number of what is the probably the best regularly occurring art/architecture/design event in town.

PechaKuchaNight is a sort of “open mike” opportunity for designers, architects, artists, etc., to give short “20×20” presentations about their current or past projects. “20×20” because each presenter (supposedly) is limited to showing a maximum of 20 images, and limited to talking about each image for a maximum of 20 seconds.

If you want an idea of what to expect, see the list of presenters from last month and from a couple of months back.

It starts at 20:20pm. For directions, see the map (日本語 | English) at the SuperDeluxe site. Or see the SuperDeluxe listing at the Tokyo Art Beat site.


My other half was looking at the G-mark Good Design Awards 2004 in today’s paper. Being nosey, I peered over her shoulder and saw the Asus Tube WL-HDD2.5. Immediately, I identified it as a wireless (無線lan) 2.5″ case, dashed back to the computer, and googled the device. The WL-HDD 2.5 is an in your pocket NAS. There is only one thing standing between me and this device, limited funds.

After reading about the above device, I wandered over to the G-mark homepage [English] [Japanese]. There are some nifty little devices there.

About the G-Mark system:

Documents published at the time the Good Design Awards (the G-Mark system) were initially established describe its purpose as “selecting and publicizing awards for good design…. in order to improve lives, foster industrial development, and promote export and trade by enhancing the quality of the products on the market.” Despite its nearly 50-year history, the mission of the Good Design Award remains the same today. As the scope of both industrial enterprise and design focus has expanded considerably over the course of the past half-century, our purpose has naturally broadened in response to encompass “improving the quality of lives and further advancing industrial activity.” The Good Design Award functions to “incorporate design into the innovative moves to advance society as a whole.”

If I am not mistaken, the Good Design Award was created by Japan Industrial Design Promotion Organization (Jidpo):

Today, design is not considered merely as a means of ensuring economic success: it might better be described as an explicit methodology for proposing and realizing new visions. In other words, it is part of the very vitality that propels our society as a whole forward. Creating a society in which companies and individuals of various types are able to use design, to present their visions to society, and to realize their conceptions together with those who sympathize with them-in other words the creation of a creative and fulfilled society-is the main topic that needs to be tackled by design promotion today.

The iPod mini is also lurking in the Gold Design category.

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