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!
A few days ago I finally visited Osmodrama, a crowd-funded interdisciplinary art project which is currently taking place in cooperation with Berlin-based arts space Radialsystem V and the International Literary Festival. Osmodrama – illustrating/telling soundscapes with scent – is an new art form developed by Austrian multimedia artist Wolfgang Georgsdorf who is also the inventor of the world’s first electronic olfactory organ, the Smeller 2.0.
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!
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!
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.
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.
June is going to be such a busy month! In addition to the annual DMY International Design Festival next weekend (11th to 14th June 2015, I have my press accreditation already and have been looking forward to this festival for weeks!), there are two more fabulous events that are taking place in Berlin this month: Berlin Food Art Week 2015 and Green Market Berlin, the city’s first Vegan lifestyle market.
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.
One of my favourite store chains in Taiwan is bookstore retailer Eslite. Not only do they have an interesting and very appealing retail concept, but I’m also impressed by how carefully the company tailors its brand portfolio and store layout to the local neighbourhood.
The Eslite chain started out as a bookstore in 1989 with a small selection of titles from the arts and humanities. Since then it has become a majorly successful multi-channel business. In 2004 Eslite was chosen as “Asia’s Best Book Store” in Time Magazine’s Best of Asia ranking and in 2011 the company received the Top 100 Taiwanese Brand Award from the Taiwanese government.
Books and literature are still a key part of the Eslite portfolio but the company has diversified its focus to embrace the cultural and creative industries in Taiwan, too. In some of the larger Taipei Eslites you’ll find gourmet food courts and super-stylish cafés, hand-made Taiwanese art and design objects, lifestyle cosmetics, international avant-garde fashion and accessories and a very comprehensive selection of books and magazines – mostly in Chinese but the larger Eslites also carry a respectable number of English language books. Some of the outlets feature lecture halls and auditoriums and in these stores there is a varied program of concerts, exhibitions and other cultural events. And the newest Eslite in Songshan even has an arthouse movie theatre.
The Red House cultural centre is the second-oldest and the smallest of the three arts spaces. It is a group of compact and attractive red-brick buildings which is located right in the middle of bustling Ximen area.