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Design Festa

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Tokyo celebrates Asia’s largest art event, Design Festa

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JAPANESE STREETS went to visit the 38th Design Festa at Tokyo Big Sight, one of the largest convention venues in Tokyo at an iconic location in Tokyo Bay.

Some 10,000 artists exhibit, buy and sell work at this gigantic art event. Many of them amazingly talented. But in the two days it takes place it is impossible to take them all in. We walked passed the booths at the fastest pace possible, almost running sometimes, and it still took more than 6 full hours to cover every single booth.

I shot lots of photographs to give a general impression of this awesome event, and also selected three artists for a closer look.

If the photos below create a craving for more, Design Festa is held two times a year. The next event is scheduled for May 17 and 18, 2014. Put it on your schedule and start saving!

Kirieya

Ryo Takagi (42) is a kiri-e gakka, an artist who creates art by cutting paper. Takagi, who is self-taught, started when he was still in university. Hand-cut silhouettes are familiar to people all over the world, but Takagi goes way beyond this. He starts out cutting his designs with a small art knife, then scans them and adds color using photoshop. He creates his unique look by adding textures that he creates himself. The result is a modern ukiyoe woodblock print kind of look that feels nostalgic and contemporary at the same time. Takagi’s art is for sale at bookstores and other stores in Japan and North America. The Kirieya homepage also has an online shop, but only in Japanese. However, some of Kirieya’s works are also for sale at

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JunK

JunK started in 1989, the year after the movie Akira came out. “I was deeply influenced by Akira,” says JunK. “The 90’ was a very dark time in Japan with the economic malaise, the Kobe quake, and the poison attack on the Tokyo subway, and I grew up during the Cold War with lots of movies and documentaries about nuclear war. I think that these things became my starting off point.”

His art is conceived as travel snaps of a Tokyo destroyed by an unimaginable disaster. They are dark, almost, monotone images of decaying buildings, many of them familiar to us.

JunK participates in art competitions, but hasn’t yet started selling his artworks. “In the near future I would like to show all my works at the same time at an art gallery,” he says wistfully.

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Yutaka Shibata

Shibata is an office worker who in his free time plays in a band. “For our band’s flyers I started to create art,” he explains. It appears to have escalated, he makes a lot more art than he will ever need for flyers.

He creates three types of works: sketches of animals and Tokyo city scenes, and very large paintings in almost neon like colors of modern Tokyo landscapes. Especially the latter caught my eye. They show highrises, highways, railways and suburban scenes in surrealistic night skies, with the moon appearing in pretty much the same location.

“I really want to paint the large paintings,” says Shibata, “but I don’t have the time for them.” So Shibata does mostly small sketches. He uses them as practice.

At the moment he only sells postcards of his art. “I haven’t yet thought of selling my works,” he explains. I hope he will change his mind soon.

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Other Exhibits

Some of the other exhibits that caught our attention.

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Artist Nana Watanabe

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Art books by Masuda Yutaka & Masuda Yuni

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Art by TOKERURUKETO (Mamina Kitazono)

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Art by mikish

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Nostalgic character goods by ASAMI Goods

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Artist Kyo

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S-CAT

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Knitted dolls by AMIGURUMI KOUBOU

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Ceramics by Fuka

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Knitted dolls by Makoto Kitazawa

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Toys by CHIKA

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Accessories by Parallel★Holic (パラレル★ホリック) | Official Site

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Kimono by Hinagiku Gohuku Ten

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Illustrations by catophilia

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ETiLES CIRCUS

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Dolls by Puni Puni Company

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Art by Maika Kobayashi

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Hats by Coco & Ami

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Shoes by machu picchu

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Shoes by author

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People

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The always gorgeous eyelash designer vivi

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Theater Space Performer Mr. Ball Head

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Our good friend Nile

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Coco of the duo Die Milch

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A tiny section in the center is reserved for performances

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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)

Ahh I posted my comment on the wrong photoset just now ~

Do you happen to have any info about who made the mushroom jewelry?

Amanita
Nov 5, 2013 (1205 days ago)

Looks like Design Festa went great, To bad I live in the U.S. and couldn’t buy any
artwork.

Bobby
Nov 5, 2013 (1205 days ago)

Wow, that was a packed house. The JunK paintings!!! Incredible! Gonna start saving indeed. :D

Kimi
Nov 5, 2013 (1205 days ago)

@Amanita: No problem. I removed the other message. I’m afraid that I only had about 6 hours to cover 10,000 artists, so I raced through the exhibition without collecting much, or any, info of each exhibitor. I wanted to give a good general impression of the event. I just looked through the Design Festa list of participants, but couldn’t find this brand. Perhaps you can?

Kjeld Duits (author)
Nov 5, 2013 (1205 days ago)

@Bobby & Kimi: Hope you can visit and shop there one of these days!

Kjeld Duits (author)
Nov 5, 2013 (1205 days ago)

Ah, wonderful! Thanks to your link and some google-translating, I was able to find the shop (in Shibuya!) that sells the mushrooms, plus so much other weird and interesting jewelry, etc. Apparently they also offer some pretty convincing fake wounds.

In case anyone else is interested: here is the link.

Amanita
Nov 5, 2013 (1205 days ago)

@Amanita: Glad you found it, Amanita. I have added the information to the article.

Kjeld Duits (author)
Nov 5, 2013 (1205 days ago)

Nice to meet you friend I’m making a red kimono of photos of 54th from the bottom.
Thanks for taking pictures of us! !

Kano Momose
Nov 5, 2013 (1205 days ago)

@Kano Momose: I have added your information to the photo. You make beautiful products!

Kjeld Duits (author)
Nov 5, 2013 (1205 days ago)

Hi Kjeld!
No sure if you remember me (I am the green haired German girl with the frog meishi) and we met at the Pop n Cute Party in Shibuya once.
Very nice photos from the design festa. I had been also exhibiting there – sad you didn’t come across my booth :) That would have been a surprise!
Anyway just wanted to say hello :D

onegai kaeru
Nov 14, 2013 (1196 days ago)

@onegai kaeru: Good to hear from you again. Sorry that I missed you. I raced through the exposition and quickly picked exhibitors that instantly caught my eye. Naturally, I missed quite a few goodies, including your work! There were 10,000 artists, and I had only 6 hours divided over two days. I calculated that if I wanted to see each one, I would have had to see about 28 artists per minute…

Thanks for saying hello. Hope we meet again, soon!

Kjeld Duits (author)
Nov 15, 2013 (1195 days ago)

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