In my first dispatch, I mentioned some negative comments about 100% Design Tokyo I had overheard in conversations, but I didn’t want to say too much until I had a chance to visit the event myself. My verdict? Certainly no worse than last year, and there are quite a few improvements that help make it a more enjoyable experience.
Now, I’m not going to comment on the business side of things — past years have seen independent designers complain about the high price associated with contracting a booth when compared to the effective return they felt they got from their involvement. And I still think that if you’re not in the industry, this is not necessarily the event for you, since the rest of TDW aims for more of a general audience. DesignTide tends to be more artistic, Tokyo Designer’s Week “Container” and “Student” exhibitions are more conceptual, and Swedish Style covers everything from graphics to fashion. 100% Design Tokyo is a commercial fair, and it does a good job as a commercial fair. Creating a dedicated space for all lighting companies (in a darkened corner of the grounds) was certainly a positive move, offering a better showcase for those products. And the Designboom-sponsored Mart and graphic art exhibitions made for a nice diversion from all the product pimping.
This year’s “Container” exhibition, always a popular attraction at the Jingu Gaien location, felt quite different — with the majority of containers playing host to collaborations between companies and Japanese design schools. This resulted in something that played out more like an extension to the “Student” exhibition (which was also presented in the same area). But in general, we didn’t get the slickness (or exercise in branding) of recent years, which is both good and bad. The Good: most installations had a pleasant organic vibe to them. The Bad: not everyone enjoys seeing what can sometimes amount to a glorified “school project.”
As in past years, a good amount of events gets spread throughout the city’s cafes, shops and galleries — mostly in Shibuya, Aoyama, and Harajuku. Although this makes TDW feel like it transforms the entire city for a week, I wonder how much of these smaller events get experienced. It would be interesting to see some figures on all “extension” exhibitions to find out if those spaces really do give the participating creator’s work the attention they hope to get.
And with that, exhausted beyond belief, we sign off on TDW 2007 (although Swedish Style-related events continue until November 8).