Creation Project 2011 Combines Tradition and Design

Nine months on from the East Japan disaster creative efforts continue aimed at providing the help needed in the North of Japan. However as time passes the media’s focus shifts elsewhere and many engaging projects are not getting the attention they deserve. The ongoing “Creation Project 2011” is a good example of such a project that hasn’t garnered much public exposure, but continues to help those affected. In this project local designers used dyed fabric made by craftsmen from four prefectures that were hit by the earthquake and tsunami (Iwate, Miyagi, Fukushima and Ibaraki), and created personal messages through designed tote bags. The bags are currently exhibited, and will progress until December 22nd, at the Recruit Creation Gallery G8, Ginza.


The whole project saw 180 Japanese and a few International creators collaborate with Zensenken, an organization of young craftsmen in Japan. “Creation Project” refers to the wish for re-creation or revival of the damaged areas in the North of Japan through creative efforts. “Shirushizome” used in the process of creating the bags also draws on traditional practices from the area, a traditional hand dyeing technique that originated in Heian Period (794-1185). Originally, a hand dyed banner indicated family crest and status, and was attached to each of the personal belongings such as tools, sign curtain hung at shop entrance etc.


Each designer expressed his or her personal message through the traditional hand-dyed bags and it is interesting to see the diversity and creativity of each designer, and their personal message and intention, and how they communicate this through design. Shin Matsunaga, for example, who is an established Japanese Graphic Designer created his interpretation of a new symbol for Japan’s revival.


Takayuki Soeda who currently participates in a long term (10 years) disaster relief project “Arts for Hope” that uses arts as a communication tool in disaster areas, created a bag design with the project’s logo and tying in the two efforts nicely.


Another of the designs that caught our eye was from creative team “Semitransparent”, a company that blends the latest media technologies and design. Their creation consisted of a dazzling patterned bag that represented a basic but fashionable concept in typical Japanese style. Product designer Hitomi Sago expressed her worries on the effect of nuclear energy by passing message of “no nukes- yes to green energy” in response to the Fukushima crisis.


“Creation Project” is a nice example of a very personal window into Japanese designer’s hearts, intentions and wishes, and the expression of their tendencies and influences. Needless to say, all profits (6,000Y a bag) are going directly to the affected areas.

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Public Pole Dancing in Shibuya Department Store

A week of girls shopping activities at Shibuya Parco opened last night with a party that surprised passers by. Shoppers and those on the street were treated to the talents of girl dance group Tokyo DOLORES. A temporary stage on the street outside the venue became an impromptu pole dancing stage as the dancing troupe opened up the “Shibuya Girls Bunkasai” event that will run for the next week in the department store.


Playing on the halloween timing, the girls strolled though the strore lobby in their trademark goth costumes giving out candy to those in store before heading to the stage. A modern dance interpretation of pole dancing, the set was an impressive mix of acrobatics and dance. The girls entertained the growing crowd with some pretty spectacular movements as they spun themselves around the poles on stage.


Although the whole event is aimed at the female market there were plenty of pleasantly surprised “Salary Men” on their way home from the office amongst them. The girls have started to make quite a name for themselves over the last year performing burlesque type shows in Japan and at venues in America also, opening the Coney Island FIlm Festival and even an impromptu performance on a NYC subway train!


Bunkasai events, a type of “cultural festival” are popular students festival in Japan and the Parco promotion will appeal to the young crowd that populate the Shibuya area. The dancing kicked off a whole week of events at the location with various music and fashion related activities, which is off the back of Japan Fashion Week and in the run up to Tokyo’s Fashion’s Night Out.


Following Tokyo DOLORES also at the event was artist colectiveChim Pom’s Ellie who carried on the party behind the turntable. Chim Pon, who have talked about before, have been gaining a lot more exposure since their Banksy-esque stunt adding the Fukushima nuclear power plant image to Okamoto Taro’s “Myth Of Tomorow” mural in Shibuya station.


The events at Shibuya Parco are on from 27/10 through to 11/6,and details can be found on their site

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Fashion Brands Transform Ravaged Rice Fields

We have previously talked about the number of innovative projects that have sprung up in the wake of the events in North Japan. Another fantastic project that caught our eye at the recent Tokyo Fashion Week, and is already harvesting results, aims at turning damaged lands in the Sendai area into fertile grounds for fashion. The big collaboration project that now includes more than 20 apparel manufacturers and retailers, was initiated by people from the textile and fashion industry such as Kondo Kenichi of Taishoboseki Industries,, in order to commence cotton farming in Tohoku area, where hundreds of hectares of land were devastated by the tsunami.


In the tsunami the rice paddies in these areas were not only destroyed, but left with high concentration levels of saline. “When the salt concentration level in the soil exceeds 0.2% it is impossible to grow rice on it, but cotton can grow on soil with 0.5% to 0.6% salt concentration” says Kondo.
The attempt of the Tohoku Cotton Project aims to create long term employment for the rice farmers by planting cotton crops on what used to be rice farms before the disaster. The cotton seeds were provided to affected farms and Taishoboseki buys up the cotton crops to spin them. The spun yarn is used to create commercial products and will eventually reach consumers.


Actual product sales are expected to commence in January 2012 and since the demand is already higher than anticipated, Taishoboseki plans to blend harvested cotton with other organic cotton to create approximately 20 tons of yarn.

The project is generating a lot of attention, especially after the recent Tokyo Fashion Week where top fashion designer Yuma Koshino announced her participation in the project and will be launching her products together with Japan Airline (JAL) for her next collection.


Other apparel brands such as Urban research, Lee and Lowrys Farm to name a few, are also delivering their message “Don’t forget Tohoku! We are still alive!” with the vision of seeing in the near future a sea of white cotton fields that spread far and wide all over the Sendai area and more importantly give residents employment and a new sustainable lifestyle.

Images courtesy of Openers

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Future Retail with Smart Hangers

109 Men’s department store in Shibuya has gone hi-tec with it’s shopping experience by introducing digital interactive clothes hangers to one of it’s shops. The hangers, from Japanese company Team Lab, interact with digital displays above the products, triggering certain images and videos to be played when the hangers are picked up by a shopper.


The hangers look the same as a normal hanger but with a larger middle area which contains an embedded RFID chip. When handled by the shopper the hanger’s chip sends a signal to a computer which controls specific displays around the store corresponding to the position of that hanger.

In the shop we tried it out in, the display infront of the item automatically changed to display the product as well as other items that might go with it. The hanger can also be programmed to change the store’s background music, lighting and any other visuals programmed.


This interactive visual merchandising not only catches the eye of the consumer and drives through further purchasing through recommendations, but also logs details and aggregates data as to how popular an item is or how effective its positioning is in store. It is also a particularly unobtrusive form of marketing that blends in with the shop itself adding to the shoppers experience in a far more natural way.

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Girl’s Handbags Exposed in Smartphone Campaign

You can tell a lot about a lady from the contents of her handbag, or so Japanese mobile provider NTT DoCoMo think. They have teamed up with fashion and lifestyle magazine “Tokyo Graffiti” for a new campaign, “Handbag Interview“, emptying out the private contents of girls handbags for all to see and judge.


Visitors to the campaigns website can view the contents of 57 girls from various backgrounds laid out on the screen before them along with the smartphone they use. Items in the bag also have little speech bubbles describing why this particular item is something they never go without. The campaign lets you glimpse into the personalities of the girls on display and in doing so are introduced to the different smartphones as extensions of their lifestyles and fashion. At the bottom of the screen you can click on each girl and find out more about them. Featuring some pretty interesting information on their use of their smartphone and how their fashion and lifestyle ties into their phone choice.


There is a nice play on the Facebook like button where other girls can award hearts for the “Kawaii” (Cute) level of how they view the bag and it’s contents. The interactive videos are split up with different nuggets of information on smartphone usage amongst females.


It is actually a fairly substantial source of information on this particular demographic and the campaign presents this in a very well thought-out way. If you don’t want to sit through all 51 girls you can also use the search page, filtering your search based on age, occupation or smartphone. The group of girls to choose from is pretty diverse, featuring subjects with professions from a professional cocktail maker to a maid cafe waitress, doctors to lawyers and everything in-between.


We have recently been involved in a in depth international smartphone project of our own at CScout Japan, and it has been particularly interesting exploring how different personalities effect not only the design of what certain users look for but also how they use their smartphones in different international markets. Looking at the difference between Japanese preferences and tendencies to other global markets there is certainly a contrast, particularly amongst the female market. In Japan where accessorizing is popular the smartphone is an extension of the user’s image more so than their international counterparts. Likewise we discovered in the research how the Japanese market is much more open to color than the western markets who showed more preference to texture.

For more information about the smartphone market in Japan check out our ongoing roundup posts here or contact CScout Japan about our research.

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Stylish Motorcycle Helmet Inspired By Fashion Haircuts

Stay stylish on your bike — right up until you take off your helmet to reveal a mussed mane

When it comes to motorcycle helmets, the most important thing is style, right? After all, who cares if you have a chunk of car sticking out of your forehead if your helmet looks cool?

Not Daniel Don Chang, that’s for sure. Chang’s Luxy helmet — designed for Vespa — looks more like a fancy haircut than a practical protection device.

The open-faced design features a swoosh-shaped cutout above the left eye, inspired by “mod girls and fashion hairstyles.” It also has a similar but smaller flourish around back. And while this front cutout isn’t very big, it still reveals an extra little bit of your delicate noggin to the dangers of cars and street furniture.

What this design forgets more than anything, though, is that the look of the helmet isn’t the biggest fashion problem for stylish bikers. It’s helmet hair. Who cares how awesome you look on the way to your office/date/fashion-shoot if — when you pull off your skid lid — you look less like a mod girl and more like a schoolboy who hasn’t combed his hair?

Luxy Vespa Helmet [Daniel Don Chang via Design Taxi and nmillions]

See Also:

Mutewatch wrists-on: stay on-task with good vibrations (video)

No, the picture above isn’t some modernized Power Ranger’s wrist communicator. This is the Mutewatch, and we’ve been intrigued since we first laid eyes on it over a year ago. At a glance, it looks akin to a rubber fashion bracelet, which could make its $260 price tag a shocker. But with the right touch or flick it reveals itself to be much more. The Stockholm-based start-up behind it, dubbed Mutewatch AB, envisions the device serving as “time management tool” for setting quick wrist-felt vibrating reminders during the course of the day. Think Growl, but on your wrist. The wristwatch lacks a dial and crystal, and instead has an angled, touch-sensitive section for a face with hidden LEDs, an ambient light sensor, a motion sensor and a vibrating motor for alarms. We’ve spent some time using a near-final unit seeing what it would be like silently manage our days, and it’s all laid out just past the break.

Continue reading Mutewatch wrists-on: stay on-task with good vibrations (video)

Mutewatch wrists-on: stay on-task with good vibrations (video) originally appeared on Engadget on Sat, 01 Oct 2011 18:00:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Kisai’s Rogue Touch watch displays dual timezones, is mildly confusing to read (video)

Need to keep track of time for two locations at once? Fret not, because the Tokyoflash-designed Kisai Rogue Touch’s dual timezone watch has got your back (if you can read it, that is). Being a Rogue variant, you’ll notice a backlit-LED/LCD dial with a familiar multi-circle layout, but with more layers for the additional time. Aside from hours and minutes, it displays the current date and progression of seconds and notably, features an animation mode for showing it off to your buddies. Of course as the name implies, the readout is adjustable using four touch-sensitive hotspots for the alarm, date and time, or to simply light up the display. If you’re up to the task of using it, the Kisai Rogue Touch is available from Tokyoflash in a choice of four dial colors for $200. While you’re still here, peek the gallery, along with the video demo past the break below to get a better idea for how it works (Pro tip: if you order in the next 48 hours, it’ll be 20 bucks less for that Starship Enterprise feel you’ll get with every glance).

Continue reading Kisai’s Rogue Touch watch displays dual timezones, is mildly confusing to read (video)

Kisai’s Rogue Touch watch displays dual timezones, is mildly confusing to read (video) originally appeared on Engadget on Tue, 27 Sep 2011 21:00:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink   |  sourceTokyoflash  | Email this | Comments

Cafe Uniforms Become Designer T-Shirts

The popular Japanese social commerce recycle shop and website Pass The Baton has come up with another great concept of turning the old and used into design desirables. The new idea will see the staff uniforms from Tokyo’s popular cafe Soup Stock, recycled as new t-shirts featuring exclusive designs.


Both Soup Stock and Pass the Baton are the brain child of the Masamichi Toyama, who also runs the neck tie clothes range Giraffe. Pass the Baton works as a kind of vintage flea market, where members can sell there items which they have become attached to but no longer need, putting a note with a story of why they loved the product being sold. Mostly a social web commerce site they also have two stores in the fashionable districts of Omotesando and Marunouchi (both designed by Wonderwall’s Masamichi Katayama).


Toyama is well known for his design and artistic flair having designed all 35 of the Soup Stock cafe interiors himself. The t-shirts, which would normally go to waste as used items, have been redesigned and given a new lease of life by designer Tetsuya Chihara, who has worked on a number of fashion designs in the past. There are 4 different designs to choose form including “Tokyo Borscht”, my personal favourite t-shirt name!


The idea of taking iconic old uniforms and redesigning them into limited edition items is a great idea. This could easily be expanded into other areas such as the delivery companies uniforms or convenience store shirts. Collaborating with famous designers this wouldn’t just be a nice bit of CSR for the companies but actually a decent source of revenue from what would normally just go to waste.

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Pharrell “Tokyo Rising” Documentary Looks at Creative Japan

Last week we posted about the short film which looks at a parallel world in a “post nuclear Tokyo”, and over the weekend we came across another amazing film here called “Tokyo Rising”. The 30 minute documentary features Pharrell Williams, the American music producer and musician behind N.E.R.D and The Neptunes label, and produced in association with the American footwear brand Palladium Boots.


The documentary is by no means the usual dry disaster, “end of days” style piece that has been all over the media but instead a fantastically well made film that features some of Japan’s most interesting creative personalities and focuses on how Japan is rebuilding itself and using its creative strength to push on regardless of the problems 6 months ago. “Tokyo faces a new reality after the tragedy of 3/11. While persistent challenges still lay ahead, the city’s creative class is hell-bent on making sure that their hometown thrives. Innovative and resilient, they are defining the future of Tokyo on their own terms.” Pharrell takes us below the streets into the worlds largest underground aqueduct and introduces us to a number of groups and spaces that aim to show the creative energy in Tokyo.


The film explores underground artists as well, including Chim-Pom, the group responsible for the alteration of Okamoto Taro’s nuclear apocalypse mural “Myth of Tomorrow” in Shibuya station. Trying to describe how the disasters themselves and the actions of the government in the wake of the disasters have brought about a resurgence in people expressing themselves through various different and creative ways, I particularly liked the line form Kunichi Nomura, the editor of Tripster, when he says “I hope the young kids get more angry because the old folks wrecked the country”.


Williams’s involvement in the documentary comes from his long standing relationship with the country, along with being the co-founder of the “made-in-Japan” brands Ice Cream and Billionaire Boys Club, he tells us how he, as many other artists are, has been influenced by Japan in many ways.

I recommend watching the full 5 parts of the documentary all available on the Palladium website here. The documentary, as well as being a fantastic piece of film work, is an amazing bit of branding for the company, who not only get the endorsement of Pharrell, but also association with an underground scene that shows some fantastic creativity.

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