Tokyo Design Festa Vol. 39

© J // Washing Rice Blog

© J // Washing Rice Blog

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.

© J // Washing Rice Blog

The view as you approach Tokyo Big Sight.
© J // Washing Rice Blog

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.

© J // Washing Rice Blog

© J // Washing Rice Blog

The Festa spanned two floors, and the convention space was divided into four areas.

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Part of the first floor convention space viewed from above.
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Most of the first floor open space displayed large mural backdrops in progress of being hand painted.

© J // Washing Rice Blog

© J // Washing Rice Blog

© J // Washing Rice Blog

© J // Washing Rice Blog

© J // Washing Rice Blog

© J // Washing Rice Blog

Amongst the murals were shops selling furniture, home interior items, knick knacks, leatherwork, jewelry, and handbags/accessories.

© J // Washing Rice Blog

© J // Washing Rice Blog

© J // Washing Rice Blog

© J // Washing Rice Blog

© J // Washing Rice Blog

© J // Washing Rice Blog

The rest of the first floor seemed dedicated to printed artwork and figurines/knick knacks.

© J // Washing Rice Blog

© J // Washing Rice Blog

© J // Washing Rice Blog

© J // Washing Rice Blog

© J // Washing Rice Blog

© J // Washing Rice Blog

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.

© J // Washing Rice Blog

© J // Washing Rice Blog

We decided to sit and have our caricature drawn at one artist booth.  We were drawn in by its minimalist style and reasonable price. 🙂

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I think we were his first customers of the day.
© J // Washing Rice Blog

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.

© J // Washing Rice Blog

© J // Washing Rice Blog

© J // Washing Rice Blog

© J // Washing Rice Blog

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)

© J // Washing Rice Blog

© J // Washing Rice Blog

© J // Washing Rice Blog

© J // Washing Rice Blog

© J // Washing Rice Blog

© J // Washing Rice Blog

© J // Washing Rice Blog

She had a goldfish theme from head to toe, including gold fish catchers used during festival games as a hair piece.
© J // Washing Rice Blog

© J // Washing Rice Blog

This whole guy’s outfit was made out of shoe stickers.
© J // Washing Rice Blog

© J // Washing Rice Blog

© J // Washing Rice Blog

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.

© J // Washing Rice Blog

© J // Washing Rice Blog

© J // Washing Rice Blog

© J // Washing Rice Blog

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.

© J // Washing Rice Blog

© J // Washing Rice Blog

© J // Washing Rice Blog

© J // Washing Rice Blog

© J // Washing Rice Blog

© J // Washing Rice Blog

© J // Washing Rice Blog

© J // Washing Rice Blog

A special dimly lit area was available for larger artwork and exhibitions .

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These ladies were making a large découpage/collage mural.
© J // Washing Rice Blog

© J // Washing Rice Blog

The painting style looks highly influenced by the brush strokes used in Japanese calligraphy.
© J // Washing Rice Blog

© J // Washing Rice Blog

Hilarious signage and glass blown pipes. Shop name appears to be Frog Grass 😉
© J // Washing Rice Blog

© J // Washing Rice Blog

Interesting concept, but not sure if it’s cool enough to warrant $300-$400 per figure. ^^;;
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© J // Washing Rice Blog

© J // Washing Rice Blog

© J // Washing Rice Blog

They were doing live volunteer participation rope bondage demos! 😉
© J // Washing Rice Blog

© J // Washing Rice Blog

© J // Washing Rice Blog

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.

© J // Washing Rice Blog

Design Festa info guide and artist information/business cards I picked up. 🙂
© J // Washing Rice Blog

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?

– J

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