Last Saturday an old friend who flew over here for a wedding, who coincidentally I hadn’t seen since our wedding a few years back, invited me out to come with her to Design Festa 2014 going on that weekend at Tokyo Big Sight and catch up.
I hadn’t really looked up anything about it going in, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. My mental image was a bunch of art, crafts, local goods companies, and graphic/interior design companies coming together for a huge promotional and networking event. I was a bit off the mark, though. The event was much more laid back with a bunch of indies and upcoming artist and designers displaying and selling their wares. If you’re looking for some cool new accessories or clothing, knick knacks or art prints to decorate your pad, or some insight on what the next big trend in the character world of Japan might be, this is the place for you. The amount of talent showcased in one place was astounding, and I hope I’ve managed to capture a small part for anyone checking out this post.
Tokyo Big Sight is a short walk from Kokusai Tenjijō Station on the Rinkai line (one station over from Tokyo Teleport), or an even shorter walk from Kokusai Tenjijō Seimon Station on the Yurikamome line. There were a lot of people going, so we just followed the crowd.
The advanced ticket line moved quickly so we didn’t have to spend long waiting around to get in. Looking at the hour plus long wait to purchase slightly more expensive day of tickets, I was definitely glad I’d bought tickets online from Lawson. It was also nice having an hour or so to wander around before the crowds started to get heavy.
The Festa spanned two floors, and the convention space was divided into four areas.
Most of the first floor open space displayed large mural backdrops in progress of being hand painted.
Amongst the murals were shops selling furniture, home interior items, knick knacks, leatherwork, jewelry, and handbags/accessories.
The rest of the first floor seemed dedicated to printed artwork and figurines/knick knacks.
A lot of these shops were interactive and you could have a custom orders made on site for pick up later that day, like this custom screen printed shirt booth.
We decided to sit and have our caricature drawn at one artist booth. We were drawn in by its minimalist style and reasonable price. 🙂
The first floor also had a center stage where various groups of people gave short live performances. We stood around awhile and caught an indie idol and a dance troupe number.
Besides the performers, there were a lot of interestingly dressed booth owners and visitors. Alternative fashion seemed to be the going trend at the event, with lolita and steampunk by far the most popular themes, as well as a bit of everything in between. (I realize that, regrettably, I failed to photograph any lolitas. :S)
Considering the high alternative fashion crowd, it was no surprise that part of the second floor catered to booths specializing in a wide range of clothing and accessories.
Much of the second floor also consisted of artwork purely for display for dolls and cloth, felted, and/or stuffed animals, along with intricate paper crafts and displays.
A special dimly lit area was available for larger artwork and exhibitions .
Although the event advertised that food would be available to buy, don’t plan on coming on an empty stomach. Dining areas were few and far between, and nowhere near big enough to accommodate the heavy crowds. It was at least a 30 minute wait to order and much longer for a table to sit down and dine at. In fact, don’t count on there being much around the station either. There’s only a Tully’s coffee shop and convenience stores to pick from. I think our biggest regret of the day was not filling up on more than coffee and croissants beforehand.
That aside, the event was pretty rad and I definitely dropped more moolah on cool stuff to bring back for friends than I thought I would. I only wished we’d had more time ! You need at least one whole day or both days to properly see and visit all the booths, especially some of the more interactive ones. But hey, there’s always next year, right?
What did you think? Pretty cool, huh?