Category Archives: Design

Retail notes from Tokyo: [Store Profile] Hands Expo Culture Mall at Tokyu Plaza, Ginza

This is more of a pictorial article! I was in Ginza a few days ago and whilst I was navigating my way through Ginza subway station I almost accidentally strayed into Tokyu Plaza department store. Like so many of Tokyo’s department stores and malls, Tokyu Plaza has several direct exits to the underground public transport system. On my way to the Marounochi line I saw one of the exits for Tokyu Plaza and went in; was charmed by the food places and restaurants in the basement levels and decide to explore the store further. And this is how I ended up walking around the Hands Expo Culture Mall for almost an hour, admiring arts, crafts and foods from all over Japan.

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MOCA Taipei: Leigh Wen, Ronald Ventura, Ruan Weng-Mong

Although this is my third visit to Taipei I had never been to the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA). Like several of Taipei’s arts spaces, MOCA is located in a historic, colonial-style building: it was originally a school built by the Japanese in 1912. In 1996 the Second Taipei Fine Arts Museum moved in and in 2000, the museum was renamed Museum of Contemporary Art.

MOCA is centrally located in Datong district and I was actually on my way to somewhere else when I walked past the site. The two exhibition posters for Leigh Wen and Ronald Ventura immediately caught my eye so I went in. And I am very glad I did: MOCA is a nice, compact museum which is much larger than it looks like from the outside.

Tickets are priced at a reasonable NT50 (1.50 Euro), lockers are free and there is a museum shop and a café. Not to mention some fabulous contemporary art exhibitions! Click on the link below for more pics and info.

moca-outside-5

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Tokyo Design Week 2016: [Show Report]

One of the highlights of this autumn’s Tokyo trip was the visit to Tokyo Design Week 2016. TDW is one of the biggest and most important design shows in Asia; it takes place each year in Tokyo’s Meiji Jingu-mae park in late October (this year, TDW took place from 26th October to 7th November) and it is – quite simply – fabulous.

Product design, robotics, arts and crafts, architecture, interior design, intelligent fabrics – off-beat, ingenious, weird, innovative logical and sometimes completely bizarre design ideas; from young creators and world-famous designers and architects, design school graduates from across Asia; big international exhibitors and niche companies. It makes the brain sparkle.

This was my third visit to TDW (here are my show reviews of TDW 2014 and TDW 2015) and in 2016, my personal favourites included a pair of robot carp, a stylish boutique skin care brand from Taiwan, an Ukiyo-e juke box and two dozen juice mixers that played “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” with different sounds. Click on the link for more pics of my favourite TDW 2016 exhibits!

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DMY International Design Festival Berlin 2016: [Show Report]

DMY is back in town! Last weekend, the 14th DMY International Design Festival took place  here in Berlin. And DMY’s core event – the big design exhibition – returned to Kraftwerk Mitte in Köpenicker Straße. Kraftwerk Mitte is an old power station which hosts various events and exhibitions and is also the location of famous techno club Tresor. If you are interested, here are my articles about DMY 2015 and DMY 2014.

For 2016, DMY’s organizers had decided on the festival motto of “Odyssey 2016”: the boundaries between the different design and art disciplines are becoming increasingly blurry; they are starting to fluctuate– between digital and analogue, online and offline; between architecture and social movements. And yes, there might be a loss of orientation (this is where the Odysseus reference comes in) but it is precisely this lack of definition which makes the journey so exciting.

And this is exactly what I felt when I walked around the exhibition halls: so many cross-boundary design concepts and materials; innovative ideas which could have come straight from a Sci Fi or Cyberpunk novel – it was quite exhilarating. Particularly the “Education” and “New Talents” sections!

DMY Design Week Berlin 2016 (45)

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Tokyo Design Week (TDW) 2015: [Show Report]

From 24th October to 3rd November 2015, Tokyo Design Week celebrated its 30th anniversary with the biggest and most spectacular show ever. Granted, it was only my second time at Japan’s most important design trade show but the whole event was on a much bigger scale than in 2014, with a number of new exhibition sections. This year they also had a central festival/food tent which hosted live bands, DJ sets and other events. I was lucky enough to catch a gig by Japanese indie band Noodles and became a fan straight away.

Amongst my favourite shows this year was the Robot Inspired Exhibition (featuring famous android girl Asuna, a robot band and some seriously intriguing examples of 3D facial and motion capturing!). The Schools Exhibition – young designers from different Asian design institutes and universities – was also very worthwhile. And then there is Creative Life: the main TDW exhibition in which brands and companies from all over the world present their take on how we might live, communicate and interact in the future.

TDW (23)

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Art & design in Seoul: “Alessandro Mendini: The Poetry of Design” in DDP

One of the things on my to-do list for this trip to Seoul was a visit to Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP), a landmark building designed by architect Zaha Hadid. Around ten years ago the city of Seoul decided to redevelop the old Dongdaemum stadium site into a central location for culture, creativity, education, design and commerce.

In 2007 the city held an international design contest and the winner was Zaha Hadid’s “Metonymic Landscape”: a three-dimensional fluid structure decorated with over 40,000 aluminium sheets. DDP is a truly spectacular creation (especially at night-time – there’s a definite space ship vibe!) and according to the official website, it is also the largest three-dimensional amorphous architectural structure in the world.

The DDP opened in 2014 and houses a design museum, several exhibition and conference halls and a very cool design store plus a central square (Oulim Square). The whole ensemble sits next to Dongdaemum History & Culture Park which in turn incorporates a number of buildings and attractions – potentially confusing but everything is clearly signposted and there are fold-out maps available, so it is comparatively easy to navigate the site.

DDP has a busy event schedule – the bi-annual Seoul Fashion Week is currently taking place in Oulim Square – and there are always exhibitions and installations to look at. At the moment, DDP is hosting “Alessandro Mendini: The Poetry of Design” which celebrates the work of the renowned Italian designer and architect. I was familiar with Mendini’s designs for Italian homeware brand Alessi but didn’t know much about his other work so I decided to check out the exhibition. Click on the link below for more pics!

DDP (1)

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The Aluminium Garden: Exhibition at Studio Picknick Berlin

Up until a few years ago, my street was quite boring. It’s right in the middle of what used to be the governmental area of Eastern Berlin: the building I live in is surrounded by offices, ministries and embassies.

Including the North Korea embassy, by the way: if you’re ever in the neighbourhood check out their glass-covered information case at the entrance – very brightly coloured pictures of various Kims and happy-looking North Koreans and beautifully written communist propaganda (North Korea is the most prosperous place on earth, in case you didn’t know).

Anyway, over the last couple of years there’s been an influx of Internet start-ups, media agencies and galleries which is really brightening up the neighbourhood. Like Studio Picknick Berlin, an arts space which must have opened at some point this year; all of a sudden they were there! And they have the most beautiful exhibition on at the moment: The Aluminium Garden, a collaboration between artist Toshihiko Mitsuya and architectural firm June 14 Meye-Grohbrügge & Chermayef.

IMG_0765

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Exhibition: Dancing on the Volcano – J.F. Schwarzlose fragrance exhibition

Yesterday evening I attended the opening of Stadtmuseum Berlin’s new exhibition: “Tanz auf dem Vulkan” (Dancing on the Volcano) – Berlin’s “Golden Twenties” as reflected in art and design. The Weimar Republic (a historical epoch defined as extending from 1918, the end of WWI, to 1933, the year when Adolf Hitler became German chancellor) is one of the most interesting, complex and, of course, pivotal periods in German history.

Tanz auf dem Vulkan approaches Berlin’s Weimar Republic from a different angle. Rather than analysing the political, social and economical aspects of these fifteen years and what they were leading up to (depressing and very grim since we all know what happened), the exhibition highlights a different side of the Weimar Republic: the hedonistic and colourful lifestyle, culture, art and design of Germany’s capital in the Roaring Twenties.

Schwarzlose Exihibition (19)

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DMY International Design Festival Berlin 2015: [Show Report]

As expected, last weekend’s DMY International Design Festival was very interesting indeed. The organizers had selected a different location this year: DMY 2015 was held in Kraftwerk, an old power station which was originally built in the early 1960s. It was the first time I’d actually visited the Kraftwerk; I knew it only as a location for events, exhibitions and concerts and the building also hosts legendary techno music club Tresor.

We’re talking major industrial charm here, lots of towering concrete, pipes everywhere, slightly gothic and very atmospheric – a bit of a contrast to the soaring spaces of Tempelhof’s airport hangars from last year but still very effective. Made for some stunning photos! The festival featured five official sections this year – Showroom (for established designers and brands), Education (for design school and universities), Lab (for up-and-coming young talents), Berliner Zimmer (“Berlin Room”, a special area for Berlin-based designers) and DMY Store, a shopping area for design fans.

DMY intro (3)

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Event: Cyberfest 2014 – The Other Home

It’s that time of year again: Cyberfest, Russia’s biggest new media festival, is back in town! The first Cyberfest took place in St. Petersburg eight years ago. Last November, Cyberfest came to Berlin and took up residence in art house The Wye for a week of fabulous digital music/art/tech exhibitions and events. Check out my Cyberfest 2013 blog article here.

This year the festival returns to Berlin and again The Wye is Cyberfest’s co-organisator. The program promises to be just as interesting as the one last year: From 12th to 15th December, Bethanien gallery in Kreuzberg is hosting a visual art exhibition which presents an overview of contemporary Russian new media/art and at Platoon Kunsthalle in Mitte on 15th December, there is a sound art performance featuring five auditory artists from Russia and Berlin. Should be absolutely worth a visit!

More information is available from Cyberfest creator Cyland Media Lab and on the festival’s Facebook page.

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