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Design Day

Design Day

What better way to spend a rainy day than at home, cuddled up on the couch.

Not in Tokyo, we don’t! So we cycled out as it had stopped raining for a while… to park our bikes only two stations from the house, because it was back to rain again and hubby knows I am made of sugar.

Today’s motto was design and you are welcome to spend the day with us escaping the rain, which is what you get when visiting Japan in the wet season.

First thing at the station, we spotted a very Japanese fish shop with striking seafood design.

Tokyo, Japan

 

Some stores look so European, I thought I was back home – more so, now that they are fully in Christmas mode – two months before Christmas.

Tokyo, Japan

 

At the stations, you will often see people giving out promos in the form of tissues or mouthmasks. (Tomek wears a headband=we are getting autumn temperatures in Tokyo).

Tokyo, Japan

 

So, we got mouthmasks. Japan has convinced me that the concept of the mouthmask is very efficient in minimizing the spread of diseases. Especially in huge conglomerations of people living close together. Most Japanese wear them if they have a cold, so as not to pass on the germs. A concept that has not caught on in any other country (I know of).

Tokyo, Japan

 

Not even trying to escape the magnetic power of Japanese vending machines, we warmed up with hot macha and lemon tea.

Tokyo, Japan

 

Our first sight that day was Kai-ga-kan, Meiji Memorial Picture Gallery. An impressive building in my (second) favourite architectural era, Art Deco, completed in 1926 after 8 years. The must-do for 20s design lovers. Location: 9 Kasumigaoka, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo. Admission: 500yen.

Tokyo, Japan

 

Inside the majestic building, you can see eighty huge canvasses documenting the lives of Emperor Meiji (and Empress Shoken) who reigned 46 years and are known for their efforts to guide Japan towards modernity.

Tokyo, Japan

 

The structure is impressive; made of reinforced concrete, the outside walls are covered with granite, inside the floors and walls are made of marble produced in Japan. There is a garden with ginko trees but it was too rainy to marvel at nature.

Tokyo, Japan

 

No photography inside the picture exhibition but I thought the main hall was monumental.

Tokyo, Japan

 

Next, we were aiming to see the Tokyo designers week 2013 exhibition – marked by a mega pink bubble ball in the outer garden area of Meiji Picture Gallery.

Tokyo, Japan

 

But in the end we passed. The entrance fee was pricey (about 3,000yen) and could only be halved, if a promo picture of the event was posted on your facebook timeline. The amazing value of facebook. (The picture) which we didn’t use. Old school.

Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo, Japan

 

Instead, we were going to get entertained by another exhibition to see what’s cooking in the design gallery. Tokyo Midtown Good Design Exhibition 2013. Location: Tokyo Midtown, 9-7-1, Akasaka Minato-ku, Tokyo. Admission: 1000 yen.

Tokyo, Japan

 

Here are some pics of the latest developments in design for 2013.

Not much of a ride for car pimp people – no big beemers, no huge wheels. Cars do shrink. And they become more functional.

Tokyo, Japan

 

A comfy four wheeler with the doors generously opening. If we will ever get a car again, it is got to be small and roomy, like those Japanese cubed cars. Mum and dad are more into sports cars and I can tell you, speedsters may look good, but getting in and out is a nightmare, not to mention long trips squashed in the back seat with dad pushing speed limits on the Autobahn.

Tokyo, Japan

 

I read that the Good Design Awards this year were given to “1212 designs which enhance and enrich our lives and possess the beauty of balance”.

I am sure this app did enhance my life for the time I was engaged with it. Totally fun. It merges two picture portraits for no reason. For all I know, you may create and visualise some screwed up science experiments on human faces.

Tokyo, Japan

 

Maybe this is what Tomek would look like, if his dad was Barack Obama.

Tokyo, Japan

 

If me and Mona Lisa ever came together face to face, we would have to work on that smile.

Tokyo, Japan

 

Best of Christmas present ideas. Design a pair of your very own personalised shoes!

Tokyo, Japan

 

Totally loved these ‘Wraps’. Very ballet-pointe inspired.

Tokyo, Japan

 

Developing Asian countries were spot on. There was a separate exhibition hall just for great stuff from Thailand. Coconuts, yes, but even the most smelly of all fruits (durian) made it.

Tokyo, Japan

 

Very cool candle with a loooong flame from Thailand.

Tokyo, Japan

 

And there it was, Laos! The country we had just visited and which I  rave about endlessly. Slowly making it out of economic misery with traditional handicrafts and fashion.

Tokyo, Japan

 

Recycling and sustainable are trend keywords in design.

Tokyo, Japan

 

New advancements in carving. Get your mini clone. I tried to get our 3D portrait in Tokyo last time – but they were only selling for a week, then closed down. Couldn’t find another place to get those real looking human copies. We have seen very cool 3D carving machines in Beijing a few weeks ago but they weren’t doing portraits.

Tokyo, Japan

 

A lot of things were specifically targeting the Japanese market. Peculiar and funny.

The strawberry – treated like a raw diamond. So very Japanese. Apparently, Migaki Ichigo is the most advanced strawberry greenhouse which can set you back a big bit. If you are willing to spent a fortune for fruits, try the cubed melons or pampered veggies at the famous basement food court at the Isetan in Shinjuku.

Tokyo, Japan

 

Traditional wooden geta – Japanese foot wear – now available in lightweight flip flop plastic.

Tokyo, Japan

 

Three finger gloves for sticky food. Taking all the fun from the kiddos. Hygiene master Japan.

Tokyo, Japan

 

Here is the hilarious product description of finger etiquette Three-piece type.

Tokyo, Japan

 

Wooden containers to keep dried up piece of baby yuck. The umbilical cord box. Next up are going to be wooden frames to hang up new born’s body tissue.

Tokyo, Japan

 

Just when I thought Japanese toothbrushes – for adults – are too small, I saw this. I am sure that one toothbrush already broke just from holding it in the hand. Japan has all the oral hygiene products but toothbrushes are strangly tiny.

Tokyo, Japan

 

Maybe the brushes were for dogs. Not as far fetched as you might think, Japanese dogs go for walks in trolleys and…

Tokyo, Japan

 

Chopsticks with lunch box, the Japanese version of Tupperware is Lunchware.

Tokyo, Japan

 

I looked at this invention from 1907 and noticed that we have just that identical brush(head) in our Japanese townhouse. Some designs are simply good. And ageless.

Tokyo, Japan

 

The capsule that can be kept at home and in the worst case, get a Japanese sized family through eschaton.

Tokyo, Japan

 

But two major players at Good Design were playing it wrong. Sony and Google.

As I was reading about the benefits of these Sony Apps, I thought I could do a bit of tuning up to our Sony camera. But no… not compatible. We have almost the same freaking model as sits in the display. But no. We just bought our Sony NEx5 last summer. But no. Need to buy a new Sony Nex model. No! I am seriously disappointed, Sony. It felt like having an iPhone.

Tokyo, Japan

 

Google. What happened here? The best invention ever, Google Maps is sadly turning from good design to bad design. The new version has the Wikipedia layer removed. Tomek managed to get the old version back which made the Wikipedia layer work again, but a few weeks later, Google removed this functionality altogether. It was an excellent tool to explore your surroundings, especially in new places. Another feature gone from Google Maps is the ruler – in a new version, you’re no longer able to measure the distance between two points on the map. Why is it that the idealism of Google vanishes at about the same speed the company acquires online monopoly?

Google had occupied the room for three products at the exhibition with an obviously worse Google Map App than ever before, marketing it as if it had actually improved.

Tokyo, Japan

 

There was more wrong. Baby chicks made up a ballerina figure. The title to this piece of art was “Snack“.

Tokyo, Japan

 

Was I hungry after all those Good Design products! Only slightly due to the chicks snack.

Luckily, we didn’t have to walk far, nor look long to get a decent meal. Tokyo Midtown has a floor with a good choice of international cuisine.

Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo, Japan

 

We went for Vietnamese. There was a lady’s and men’s set but the men’s set was lacking desert. It seems it is very lady like but not manly at all to have desert. But who cares about stereotypes. We ordered the same, Tomek man enough to order the opposite sex meal.

Tokyo, Japan

 

Two lady’s sets with pho soup, rice curry, desert and a drink produced a bill of only 2200 yen, for dinner in one of the poshest buildings in town.

Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo, Japan

 

As so often in Japan, we get table accessories that are not easily matched with the dish. Spoon. Got it. But three spoons, one with a weird shape… what do I do with it?

Tokyo, Japan

 

Let’s watch Japanese pros.

Tokyo, Japan

 

Maybe even try to figure it out. On our own.

I have only just understood how my mum turned the spoon into an airplane, so this one couldn’t possibly be much harder.

Spoon I Comic Dasza Traveler

Spoon Comic II Dasza Traveler

Spoon comic III Dasza Traveler

 

Good Design attractions continued outside, so we walked past the cherry trees that look so mesmerizing during hanami.

Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo, Japan

 

Midtown Dungeon, a maze of wooden panels with various activity zones, was a lot more fun in the dark than it could have been during the day. The maze had already closed down but couples were sneaking in anyway, to find their way to Heart Square.

Tokyo, Japan

 

Because love conquers all barriers. So to say, Tokyo all dimensions for hearts.

Tokyo, Japan

 

Like a proper couple we did another thing. Looking for romantic spots. So we sat by the pond and watched well behaved Japanese Romeos and Julias.

Tokyo, Japan

 

Infatuated by the place, we spotted the secret hideout for umbrellas. This is probably one of the most romantic things Japanese people do. They leave umbrellas for each other.

Usually the transparent ones (a perfect example of Good Design making it possible to see through it when walking/biking around). The transparent umbrella is the least expensive and can be bought at any conbini for about 400 yen. You will see many public places with transparent umbrellas which have been left behind by previous owners, waiting to be picked up by the next person in need of umbrella comfort. Charming! Okay, and practical.

Tokyo, Japan

More fancy from Tokyo coming up!❤☺☂

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