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Taito Designers Village: An Artist's Dream Come True

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An old elementary school in Tokyo’s Taito district, known for its artisans and craftspeople, has been transformed into a community of artists and designers

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Taito Designers Village is located in Taito Ward, an area that has long housed a large number of artisans and craftspeople. The Village is an artist’s dream come true, an 83 year old three story former elementary school transformed into an incubation center for creative people. It is filled with almost twenty studios, offices and ateliers of designers, artists and other creatives.

Usually, Taito Designers Village is closed to the public, but twice a year it has an Open Village where anybody is welcome. You can even purchase some of the wonderful works created here directly from the tenants and talk with them about their work. The event always features demonstrations, workshops and trial lessons, and during the latest Open Village on November 19, there was also an exhibition of coconogacco, a unique fashion design course based at the Village.

Coconogacco is creative spelling for Koko no Gakko, gakko meaning school and koko here or individual. The course was established by writtenafterwards designer Yoshikazu Yamagata and brings together a diverse group of designers and students. There is a lot of focus on self-discovery. In a typical class Yamagata may for example ask his students to create clothes without using color or fabric. The works the students come up with can be quite surprising as you can see in the photos below. It completely blurs the line—if there ever was any—between fashion and art.

Tokyo’s Taito Ward established the Village in April 2004 to support talented new creators and reinvigorate the area’s declining base of small manufacturers and craftspeople. Tenants pay very low rent and are introduced to local manufacturers. They only have two or three years before they have to move out and make space for the next promising creator, so there is a lot of pressure to quickly get established. Many graduates, such as writtenafterwards, Kanmi, Coquette, m+ and Syuro, have gone on to create successful businesses.

(Some of) The Tenants

NEVERLAND

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HAVIENA

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otogi designs

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atelier65

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chuBBie.co

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sekiyumi

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AUTTAA

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Talkative by igo

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The People

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More Tenants

The Mint House

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sunomoto

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Mademoiselle Yako

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IZUMY

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QWERTY @ CEMENT STORE

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The Exhibition

Works by students of coconogacco

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More info about Taito Designers Village:

• Metropolis: Taito Designers Village: Young creators rule the school in Tokyo’s shitamachi
• The New York Times: In Tokyo, a village for designers

Kjeld Duits About the Author

Inspired by the stunningly creative street fashion that exploded on the streets of Tokyo and Osaka in the late 1990’s, photo-journalist Kjeld Duits launched JAPANESE STREETS in 2002. This makes JS one of the first fashion blogs on the net, and the very first to cover Japanese street fashion.

Recent articles by Kjeld Duits:

Comment (日本語もOK)

amazing pics!

Sha-Sonja Wilson
Nov 28, 2011 (2734 days ago)

I would have gone bankrupt if I were there. Buying like crazy everything, from earrings to hats!

Maria
Dec 16, 2011 (2717 days ago)

@Sha-Sonja Wilson: Thank you!
@Maria: Totally understand that! Better start saving now for a future trip to Japan! ^_-

Kjeld Duits (author)
Dec 16, 2011 (2716 days ago)

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http://www.japanesestreets.com/reports/1583/tokyo-taito-designers-village-an-artist-s-dream-come-true
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