The simplicity and design of MUJI makes a debut in San Francisco

I’m excited to hear about the opening of MUJI USA’s flagship store in San Francisco. During Reverse Tofu in October, I had the incredible opportunity of talking to Mr. MUJI himself — the original designer for some of MUJI’s staple products. (Pic below)

Contrary to its competitor Uniqlo, which also opened up shop in SF a couple months ago, MUJI has a strong philosophy of no branding + no advertising — of course, this is a tremendous challenge when entering a new market, especially one that is so ad-driven. But hey. MUJI stuff is awesome. I use their notebooks and business card holders and headbands every single day. And it has a tremendous philosophy rooted in simplicity, efficiency, and good design.

Bamboo dining set teaches kids table manners

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I love this dining set for kids made by Funfam. Everything’s made of bamboo and is reusable (huge amounts of wooden chopsticks are used and thrown away every day in Japan), but not only that, the embedded cutlery design automatically teaches your kids how to set a table! It’s one less thing you have to teach them &mdash not to mention that it’s just an extremely cute design. The only caveat: it costs $200.

Product page via Designboom

Artsy video shows a designer and his beautiful colored pencils

This lovely video, aptly titled “White Box,” shows a designer contemplating his colored pencils and a simple white box on his drafting table. This was actually created by director Makoto Yabuki for architecture firm Sturdy Style.

And if you liked this, or even if you didn’t, you should watch Right Place, a short film about an OCD combini man, and Cornelius‘ awesome music video for Fit.

via NotCot

NYT article on Tokyo capsule apartments highlights problem of architectural preservation

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The NY Times has a great article with pics about the imminent destruction of Nakagin Capsule Tower, a rare survivor from Tokyo’s Metabolist architectural era of the 1970s. The tower, created by architect Kisho Kurokawa, is full of apartment units that are actually factory-made capsules with compact built-in furniture and a giant porthole that, for many residents, faces a busy highway. The writer offers this explanation as to why there isn’t a bigger movement to preserve this unique building:

all over the world, postwar architecture is still treated with a measure of suspicion by the cultural mainstream, which often associates it with brutal city housing developments or clinical office blocks. Partly, too, it has to do with the nature of housing blocks in general. They are not sexy investments; they do not feed an investor’s vanity or offer the cultural prestige that owning a landmark house does.

Link

Cool new concept for bicycle pit stops

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Check out this ingenious concept for bicycle pit stop areas by Tokyo’s Store Muu Design Studio. Basically, anybody riding a bike could just ride straight into one of these tables, which locks the front wheel and provides them with an instant table to rest or snack on. The cyclist can stay on his/her seat and just have a regular seated meal. Japan has tons of bicycles, and parking them has become harder and harder as the crackdown on randomly parked bicycles continues. So this is a great solution for those who need to stop for a bite but don’t want to get their bikes confiscated. I can totally see a fast food chain or restaurant wanting to install these, but I can also see it causing huge clusterfucks on sidewalks and promptly being banned.

via Shibuya246

Related stories:
Bicycle rule crackdown!

Video: the hen that rides a bicycle
Giant subterranean bicycle parking lot
Gallery of pimped out dekochari bicycles

Terunobu Fujimori’s super-tall, super-tiny kooky designer tea house

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What a beautiful tea house by architect Terunobu Fujimori. He built it for his own use in Nagano Prefecture. A traditional tea house is supposed to be self-constructed and extremely tiny; Fujimori saw this as an interesting challenge, and created this super-tall, super-small (he can’t sit up straight inside the tea room) building, which he dubbed Takasugi-an (takasugi literally means too tall). Fun! More pics here.

Photos by Edmund Sumner via Dezeen

Toilet makes you want to do a super ski jump

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What could possibly feel better than dropping a giant turd while preparing to do a virtual ski jump? Not much, I’d imagine. Japanese coffee company Georgia painted public toilets at several ski resorts to mimic a ski jumper’s perspective, wrapping the walls in illustrations of mountains and drawing skis where the feet go, and a giant slope on the front wall. Apparently, the toilet paper holder says:

“Seriously kick-ass intensely sweet for the real coffee super zinging unstoppable Max! Taste-explosion!”

I wish my toilet looked like that. I’d sit on it all day.

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via Boing Boing