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Upon A Fold in Japan – Design Hub

by Jenny Butler
Tuesday 31st August 2010

After yesterday’s amazing finds at the Oedo markets, Justine is back today with more Tokyo-goodness to share… this time we follow her personal tour of Tokyo’s Design Hub – an amazing space dedicated to showcasing and promoting all things design.  Here Justine rounds up her favourite exhibits in the current  ‘Design to Change the World’ exhibition – so inspiring!  ps) I want one of those ‘PermaNets’! – Lucy x

Top: Looking at ways to improving eyesight in third world countries. Below: Jaipur Foot

One thing I noticed in Tokyo was that good design exists everywhere, and when I wasn’t on a quest for paper shops, I was taking in some of the design hot spots Tokyo has to offer.

Design Hub, inside the Tokyo Midtown complex is a place where designers gather to discuss, discover, create and connect on all things related to design. It opened its doors in 2007 with the aim of becoming an action center for design – a place where new ideas, experimentation and innovation would emerge.

I was lucky enough to get a personal tour of Design Hub and Tokyo Midtown by my dear friends Miyamoto and Waka. Miyamoto was involved in the architectural design for the Galleria area of the complex, so he knew a lot about everything and was happy to answer my 101 questions – starting with, are there any paper shops in here? And btw, there are!

Design Hub entrance and space graphics by Takeo Nakano

Design Hub hosts exhibitions throughout the year. These exhibitions vary in subject matter but generally all work towards designing solutions for everyday issues. The exhibition space also provides many opportunities for young designers to have their ideas seen and heard by leaders in the design industry.

An exhibition called ‘Design to Change the World’ was showing when we visited Design Hub. It showcased an amazing collection of 80 products designed to help improve the lives of people living in poverty. ‘What can design do to help those in our world living on less than two dollars a day?’ This was the question up for discussion with the following 8 categories represented – water, food, energy, health, housing, mobility, education and connectivity.

Solutions to help with energy, food, health and water issues.

Cook Stove as part of ‘Design to Change the World’

PermaNet – A ready-to-use mosquito net, that is impregnated with an odourless and biodegradable insecticide.

I recognised one of the designs as the ‘One Laptop Per Child’. Over a million of these low-cost laptops have now been given to children around the world to help them better their lives through education. In the image below Miyamoto shows my husband Matt exactly how it works!

Top: Inside Design Hub. Below left to right: Miyamoto shows Matt how the XO Laptop works; Rope and Washer Pump.

Here are some of the other inventions that were on show. I must say, that day I never felt more proud to be a designer. To see design put to such good use was really so inspiring!

Design Hub is run by four of Japans leading design organisations, including the Japan Graphic Designers Association (JAGDA). Seminars, talks, and workshops are an everyday occurrence here and it’s easy to see why this place is considered the core or hub of art and design in Tokyo.

Close by are many other art and design sites definitely worth checking out. I’ve listed some of my favourites below.

21_21 Design Sight
The National Art Centre, Tokyo
Mori Art Museum
AXIS Gallery

Back soon! x

Poster design by Takeo Nakano

Visual identity by Takeo Nakano

by Jenny Butler
Tuesday 31st August 2010

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