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.
In Episode 2 of We Are All Radioactive, we introduce you to a fisherman who’s weaving a hammock out of fishing net rope. The Japanese artist Shigeki Fujishiro used a similar type of rope to make these awesome (but perhaps not very practical) bags.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Clothing brand Uniqlo made this awesome online calendar featuring stop motion tilt-shift scenes of Tokyo, the date, the weather, and music by Fantastic Plastic Machine. I love it &mdash and you can post it into your blog or Facebook page, too.
Toilet company Toto came out with this beautiful new toilet bowl collection that they call Waza Miyabi. There are foliage designs for every season. Pretty, although I personally would prefer to pee and poo in a normal white toilet bowl.
Look at these beautiful juice boxes by industrial designer Naoto Fukasawa. He made each container resemble the look and texture of the fruit it embodies—here, we see (from l-r) soy, banana, and strawberry, and kiwi (below).
TokyoFlash has some crazy new concept designs for tabletop clocks. This one’s my favorite because it looks like a UFO. It creates great ambient light for a bedroom, and tells time through a little light animation dance. A couple more designs after the jump.
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.
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!”