On: Design

Selections from Jean Snow's monthly column on On:Design.


On: Design

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Aki Inomata, grand prize winner of the YouFab Global Creative Awards 2015 created a "shelter" for hermit crabs.

Free domestic design competitions | The Japan Times

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Newsed’s brightly colored recycled acrylic badges and car-seat-belt bow ties have already proved popular at museum shops and select stores, and this competition is one way the brand expands its unusual collection.

Free domestic design competitions | The Japan Times

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The Sabae Urushi Award, a brand new global competition, is looking for designs that will help modernize and popularize traditional Japanese lacquerware. This isn’t about simply designing an attractive cup or bowl — entrants are encouraged to think “outside the vessel” as well as consider using glass, metal, resin and even 3-D printing technology.

Free domestic design competitions | The Japan Times

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The Kami-Men by Kami Play are three amusing envelopes that look like faces wearing wrestling masks. Each mask’s design draws on a traditional Japanese concept: the red one looks like the decorative mizuhiki paper-cords found on Japanese gift envelopes, while the blue and yellow ones bear motifs based on gourds and arrows, which are lucky symbols in Japan.

Design sounds good and looks even better on paper | The Japan Times

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Originally used to embellish accessories of 16th-century samurai armor, koshu inden is a process of stenciling lacquer designs on deerskin. For Siwa x Urushi, urushi artisans have developed a new process to apply lacquer to the brand’s signature crumpled-look paper. The result is a wide range of slippers, bags, book covers and more, all delicately detailed with patterns of tiny droplets of shiny lacquer.

Design sounds good and looks even better on paper | The Japan Times

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Tokyo Origami is the sixth in Graphic design unit Cochae's popular series, and this time it offers all the icons of the metropolis. There are 24 new designs — some predictable (sushi and pandas) others charmingly odd (a sento bath and the Easter Island-like Moyai statue in Shinjuku), and as if to prove it’s up to date, there’s even the Tokyo Tower usurper, the Sky Tree.

Design sounds good and looks even better on paper | The Japan Times

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Kaori Akiyama of Studio Color has been researching ways to recycle fruit and vegetable peel into a decorative form. After much experimentation, she discovered that boiling floatstone with grape, carrot or orange waste would dye the calcareous rock into attractive soft colors.

Japan's 'Experimental Creations' at Milan Design Week | The Japan Times

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For Jun Murakoshi, those distinctive groove lines left behind by 3-D printing make for a happy design accident. By printing his So vase shapes from the bottom upward, he found that the concentric lines of 3-D printing are reminiscent of the lines visible on wheel-thrown pottery.

Japan's 'Experimental Creations' at Milan Design Week | The Japan Times

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Goto uses nature to bring to life possibly one of the most uninteresting construction materials around. Colorful petals, seeds and leaves are sprinkled into cement before the mixture is set into large bowl and vase shapes.

Japan's 'Experimental Creations' at Milan Design Week | The Japan Times

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Cement Produce Design has created its own hanami (cherry-blossom viewing) season for its range of See Oh! Ribbon bookmarks.

Something old, something new, something blue | The Japan Times

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Early last year, design company Amabro fully embraced the Moomins with a series of sometsuke (traditional-style blue-and-white glaze) porcelain cups and dishes.

Something old, something new, something blue | The Japan Times

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A combination of attractive textiles with centuries-old woodcrafting techniques, Inui’s Wappa Bag retains just enough traditional aesthetic to look “Japanese” without appearing cliched.

Something old, something new, something blue | The Japan Times

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Shotton cleverly turns the shoehorn into the capes of tiny Superman and Batman figures, who help you slide your heels into your shoes.

After 10 years, On: Design columnist Jean Snow signs off — with style, of course | The Japan Times

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Cushionsan produces fun packaging products — mostly sponge shapes that both protect and decorate. Its new Leaves, however, are sheets of paper cutouts that can be manipulated in cascading masses of autumnal foliage.

After 10 years, On: Design columnist Jean Snow signs off — with style, of course | The Japan Times

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Available in colors inspired by traditional Japanese hues, the Plus Minus Zero skinny-cabled X010 (pictured right), priced at just ¥500, comes in black, red, yellow, green and blue, while the X110, which offers a deeper fit in the ear and a more durable cable, is ¥1,200 and comes in pink, yellow, light blue, black and white.

After 10 years, On: Design columnist Jean Snow signs off — with style, of course | The Japan Times

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It’s great when something gives you an excuse to have fun at your desk, and the Play-Deco Construction series from Twelvetone does just that. The collection of five different-sized wooden trays and containers are decorated to look like buildings — a post office, a school, a hotel, a station and, appropriately, an office block.

After 10 years, On: Design columnist Jean Snow signs off — with style, of course | The Japan Times

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Get noticed with these statement rings, which literally do make a statement. Designed by RGA Laboratory, these Sound Effect Rings are molded into katakana characters that are often used in Japanese comics for onomatopoeic words.

Staring at the bottom of the glass | The Japan Times

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Following the success of Tidy’s Magnet Keyper (a magnetic wooden block that attaches to metal surfaces and holds keys), the brand’s new Magnet Hook is a similar idea — except, of course, it’s a hook. Also wooden, it looks a bit like a door knob on which you can hang pretty much anything, though its size and shape makes it particularly well suited for umbrellas, hats and coats.

Staring at the bottom of the glass | The Japan Times

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Chocotowel by Ottaipnu is actually more of a handkerchief and, as the name suggests, it’s presented in the form of a chocolate bar. With its chocolate-wrapper packaging, you might think that Chocotowel is nothing more than a novelty item, but this hankie has been designed for function.

Staring at the bottom of the glass | The Japan Times

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The Kanna Glass by Hiroshi Yamazaki (of Yamasaki Design Works) is a beautifully designed piece of glassware, with an unusually irregular bottom. The uneven surface means that it will never rest flat — the glass will always be tipped at a slight angle.

Staring at the bottom of the glass | The Japan Times

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Storing frequently used plastic wrap and kitchen towels tidily can be made easier with Ideaco’s Wrap Holder and Kitchen Towel Dispenser. Both are magnetic and can be attached to a refrigerator or side of an oven — out of the way for the most part, but still within in easy reach.

Designs to liven up house and home | The Japan Times

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Plus Minus Zero’s new rechargeable Cordless Cleaner Y010 comes with a variety of nozzles and is particularly handy for cleaning those hard-to-reach spots.

Designs to liven up house and home | The Japan Times

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The Hen-Shin Balloon gradually changes color as it is blown up — for example, from yellow to green or blue to red — while the Two-Tone Balloon looks a bit like a white balloon dipped half-way in colored paint. Both of these models are sold in packs of six — small for ¥432 or large for ¥864.

Designs to liven up house and home | The Japan Times

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A collaboration between pen-manufacturer Zebra and design-brand 100%, the Mizutama stand makes your pen look as if it’s piercing a giant globule of water. Made of clear glass, designed by Kosho Tsuboi, it resembles a suspended drop of water. And since it’s a collaboration, Zebra’s Bankers model of pen fits it perfectly.

Designs to liven up house and home | The Japan Times

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The Dollhouse Chair by Torafu Architects — Koichi Suzuno and Alicja Strzyzynska — might sound like it could have been a Christmas stocking-filler, but in fact, it’s quite the opposite. This kids’ chair isn’t for a dollhouse, it doubles as a dollhouse and can also be used for storage.

Designs to liven up house and home | The Japan Times

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