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Jean Snow
December 2005
Ubushina 03.3440.4697
Accessories: Dec 29, 2005

Ubushina Jewelry

As they state on their site, "ubushina means a birthplace in old Japanese terminology," and with that in mind, Ubushina is also a network where today's Japanese designers can be put in contact with craftsmen working in traditional Japanese techniques (from lacquerware to metal work to paper lanterns) to create contemporary items inspired by Japan's past. Their results are gaining some deserved attention (they get a mention in the latest issue of WALLPAPER*), and it's already looking like we can expect some great things from this new form of creative partnership.

+ Ubushina

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Muji Xmas 03.5208.8241
Accessories: Dec 21, 2005

City in the Bag

Even though Christmas isn't really celebrated in Japan, it hasn't stopped retailers from pushing the holiday as something to be thankful for, and of course, to help encourage sales. The once great utilitarian Muji, more and more expanding into pretty much anything a human being would need (including a home), has now joined in the fun with its own special Xmas campaign that includes not only gifts ideas from the regular array of Muji goods, but also a new series of products that have been inspired from countries around the world and then reproduced/repackaged under the Muji brand. It's certainly a nice collection, from toys made of tin and wood to Teddy Bear cushions and even a limited-edition black version of the their famous Naoto Fukasawa-designed Wall-Mounted CD Player (and it even comes with a Muji-compiled Christmas CD). Try to get your hands on the beautiful catalogue also, which is published in four languages (Japanese, English, French, and Chinese).

LINK: Muji Xmas
LINK: Muji

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60 Vision 03.5738.3851
Accessories: Dec 20, 2005

60 VisionWhy go hunting for hard-to-find (and more-than-likely expensive) sixties-era Japanese furniture and accessories when 60 Vision is around. A new brand launched by D&Department (itself an offshoot of the design company Drawing and Manual), its mission is to relaunch and repackage sixties Japanese designs. They've done it by getting in touch with the original makers and then asking them to start producing those classic works, sometimes as they were, other times in new colors. The manufacturers have also gotten into the spirit of things by branding their collection appropriately (for instance, Ace becomes A60). Not limited to the D&Department stores (they have shops in Tokyo and Osaka), you can now find 60 Vision-branded products in select stores throughout the city.

LINK: 60 Vision
LINK: D&Department

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& Design
Accessories: Dec 15, 2005

Icon Watch

Following a visit to their booth at the recent 100% Design Tokyo event, part of this year's Tokyo Design Week, the collection of products from & Design has been on my mind. The unit is comprised of four designers (Tetsu Miyazawa, Shigenori Ichimura, Keiichi Minamide, and Maho Kusano) who have pooled their multi-disciplinary talents together -- everything from GUI design and graphics to products and environmental spaces -- to form something that seems to be pushing the boundaries of playfulness and utility in product design, or as they call it, "Characterized Design." Iconic designs turn ubiquitous items into things of beauty, like the Trash-box that looks like it popped out of the Mac OS, or the Icon Watch (pictured above) which does the same, the Dry-cell Light that looks like an over-sized battery, and even the Nekko vase, giving a graphic presence to a flower's roots. Unfortunately, none of their designs have yet been produced for retail, but hopefully it's just a matter of time.

LINK: & Design

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