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Homestay in Ōbama, Japan 2018 小浜市ホムスティー

Homestay in Ōbama, Japan 2018

Previously:  DESIGN TRAVEL GUIDE ☞ Christmas in Tokyo’17

Thanks to participating in the 50th anniversary of the Singapore Japanese Speech Contest, I got a free homestay to Japan. This time we visited an area which just opened up for homestay for the very first time, it is a fishing town called Obama in the Fukui Prefecture. It got some publicity for sharing a name with the former US president but it is much more than that.


They are closeby to Kyoto, the former capital, which is why they were once the emperor’s food supplier. It was also the port where travellers from Korea or China enter to visit japanese nobles. The people here are historically brilliant in their food and entertainment culture. They are experts in fishing, understanding the various species of fishes and their seasons. The local fish market1 has a wide variety of fresh seafood-striped, transparent, you name it. They are just caught nearby so you can eat them at the restaurant right beside without paying much transport cost. It has a kaisen don with 11 types of seafood all in one. They are also great at fermenting or preserving fish5. They were the start point of the Mackerel road or Saba Kaido(鯖街道) where they transport fishes further inland, this takes days thus requiring preservation expertise.

More than seafood, they also have farmlands and mountains for a variety of vegetable stock. People usually buy gifts for the nobles from here which is why they are also the biggest lacquered chopstick provider2 in Japan. This is accompanied with centuries old sake brewery3 and a japanese sweets shop4(they have one of the 3 shops in Japan that holds 2 of the highest accolade in the industry) Working side by side with the food culture to host travellers going to the capital, they also have a geishas6 to entertain people. What they have today are interesting music and point-based games that are rare to find elsewhere. My friend and I managed to experience all of these historic goodness in our short time here.


Besides the traditional food culture, we also saw a side of Obama that is forward-looking and evolving. Due to their pristine location, next to the Japan sea, they could carry out marine studies well. Thus, the Fukui Prefectural University1 has a campus here just for that. They continuously carry out research to better the understanding of marine livestock. A recent result of their study is feeding sake remnants to fish to make them tastier! Next I will like to talk about my host family4 , a young good-looking couple. They built their own house and its almost like its from a magazine. Its modern and has great wood, feels real good. They have a mini library(we call it that haha) with many books, boardgames, projector and even a hammock! I think they are redefining what an attractive lifestyle is for young couples in the countryside.
The husband runs a company3 that revitalizes barren land in the town to make them fertile again. This is a great initiative in a time where many leave the countryside for big city dreams. The countryside should not lose in cool places and Obama has a green cafe2 that is just that. They have vintage vibes and hanging plants, they also occasionally organise hipster sustainable Scandinavian-inspired pop-up markets outside the place. They are a couple of retro cafes around that has chimneys and cool drinks and all but green cafe’s owner is kind of obsess with plants. it shows. We were talking about Isamu Noguchi, nomad culture and other things, real interesting guy. Lastly, building something new on the existing rich food culture of Obama is a italian restaurant called La Verita5. The owner showed us cheese making and we got to eat raw cheese! I really love the texture , slightly chewy haha. We eat wagyu spaghetti as well.


Overall, it has been a great trip. Like many towns in the country across Japan, the population of young people are falling and leaving for saturated cities. It warms my heart however seeing the efforts the young people here make not just in preserving their edge in traditions but also in evolving and redefining their lifestyle to make it exciting for young people again. This ignited my thought about branding local communities and social problems in the flailing countryside.

 
 

 

Model & Sketch #1

Back to the basics again. My first semester in Japan marks my foray into product design. I think I will do alot more model-making from today. I also got back into something I have not touched on for years. Realistic sketching. Something that I am comparably weak in, however I may want to document it and hopefully improve in the future.

#1 The evolution of shape 

Our first product assignment is for having sensitivity to ‘R’ which is the radius of objects. Each block varies 5mm in radius till it becomes a sphere. A similar block-shaped clock would have different functions based on its R, if its more rounded it would be a travel clock and if it had no R, it would be likely for being placed on the table. We are supposed to make these shapes out of giant urethane blocks. It doesn’t look that way but it is incredibly tedious to sandpaper it to the current shapes with accuracy.

 

#2 Planes

Another model-making assignment was making boxes using styrene boards and we were taught a bunch of cutting techniques for it. One box is supposed to be roundish and one squarish, the design is up to the designer. Working with styrene boards is tricky as well, borders might stick out, there are be crinkles, pencil or glue marks or things might just not align. However, I managed to get the radius to match despite the thickness and the boxes are chosen for exhibiting in my school’s open campus. hehe.

The square box I made opens up to two tiers.


Despite having similar measurements in the exterior, it opens up to a simple box as compared to the squarish box.

 

 

 

 

#3 Still life

Arrrhh. I recall getting a ‘C’ for basic drawing classes during Poly. Actually this is an improvement since then but still a far cry from the local students. Probably last place in terms of skill. I have much less texture, less interesting composition and my table’s perspective is all wrong. This is done on grey paper using black and white charcoal. The takeaway for me is that I now understand light better.

 

#4 Campus Scenery 

This is literally my first ever acrylic painting. We had to paint a scenery in the school and I chose a strange thing, I chose an electric or control panel sort of item, where I show the buttons and typography in a flat manner. Miraculously, it was chosen for exhibition, I think mainly on the basis of having an interesting choice of composition. This time I narrowly made it but I will attempt more such renderings that uses traditional mediums rather than the computer. Hopefully next time I can execute it in a cleaner manner.

 

 

DESIGN TRAVEL GUIDE ☞ Christmas in Tokyo’17

Previously:  DESIGN TRAVEL GUIDE ☞ Hong Kong’16

Once again, another long overdue post. I visited Japan in December 2017 when I had my university entrance exam. It was the christmas period and Tokyo was full of beautiful illumination. I won’t talk about the illumination much below but some great places for that were Tokyo Midtown and the area around Tokyo Station. Really classy places. You won’t get that level of illumination in Singapore, Japan really prides itself in its lighting design.

At that time I was really into Lisa Ono and Bossa Nova, hence the music choice, but now when I look back it might be cheesy but oh well. I shot and edited all these back in December 2017 but I missed the time to upload during christmas then. But now I finally decided to make a post on it. I am living in Japan now so I will probably have even cooler places to show in the future. This list of 6 places include some places you will not find in other english media that I really like such as “CHOCOLATIER PALET’DOR”. As mentioned before, it would not just be places of design interests, but anywhere I enjoy. I merely named it “DESIGN TRAVEL GUIDE” because it is a list made by a designer, me in this case. 

DISCLAIMER☞All these photos are shot and edited in 2017 so the state of the shops reflect that time.

 

 

#1 

CHOCOLATIER PALET D’OR ショコラティエ パレ ド オール
★★★★★
Address 〒100-6501 Tokyo, Chiyoda City, Marunouchi,
1 Chome−5−1 新丸の内ビルディング

Access  5 minutes walk from Tokyo Station
 

Hours
Mon-Sun: 11:00~21:00
Photos courtesy of CHOCOLATIER PALET D’OR’s
instagram and relevant parties.

I’m used to seeing big global chocolate brands like Godiva or even Japanese ones like Royce. However, ever since I watched a Japanese drama on chocolatiers, I have developed an appreciation and curiosity for chocolatiers. I found a Japanese chocolatier –not in a food guide book– but in a brand identity compilation book. It was chosen as an example of brilliant brand design and I could not agree more. Typographically state-of-the-art. From the chocolates to the store and packaging, this is the kind of experience I was hoping to find in Japan.

I went to the store near Tokyo Station, in the Marunouchi building, overall a beautiful area. The store had seats with certain dine-in menu, the ice-cream looks great but what was really interesting (in 2017) was their transparent cocoa drink. It was fascinating. Their stuff is actually pretty expensive, but I think they make very decent souvenirs for slightly more important people. Especially since it is not a global brand and can only be obtained there.

#2

Creamia
★★★☆☆

Website  http://www.nissei-com.co.jp/cremia/en/
Access  Various locations

Hugely recommended at that time, but these days I find it everywhere. True to what everyone says, its a really great soft serve. I even watched a video that explained that the people behind it used science and years of research to develop the perfect taste, texture and even the perfect cone that complements it.

#3

La Mère Poulard ラ・メール・プラール
★★★★☆

Address 3 Chome-5-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda City,
Tokyo 100-0005
Website  http://www.la-mere-poulard.jp/
Access 2 minute walk from Tokyo Station

Hours
Mon-Sun: 11:30~22:00

I saw a facebook video about fluffy omelettes and after further probing, found it to be La Mère Poulard. It originated as a french inn in 1888, with their giant omelettes cooked in a wooden hearth being hugely popular. It was also on an island which was the reference for their original logo. As of now, it seems that this restaurant can only be found in Japan besides its home country of France, which makes it worth a visit if you are in Japan. The brand identity design is pretty impressive here as well, they keep the consistent red and the interiors make you feel like you are transported to that french island where this place was first opened on. I had the omelette which is really interesting texture-wise but it was not too spectacular for me personally, but I did notice the Japanese customers finish it well, perhaps it is more fitting for the Japanese tastebuds.

#4

Ghibli Museum 三鷹の森ジブリ美術館
★★★★★

Address 1-1-83 Shimorenjaku, Mitaka
Tokyo 181-0013
Website  http://www.ghibli-museum.jp/
Access  Take the cat bus from the JR Mitaka Station

Hours
Mon-Sun: 10:00~18:00;
closed on tuesdays;

“Let’s get lost together” is the museum’s slogan. Photography inside is forbidden so I cannot show much but this is a magical place. There are delicately crafted exhibits in every corner, many layered or have moving mechanisms. This means even the manhole are designed and there are places you have to crouch to go through. It really feels like you are in a Ghibli movie.

The exhibition on that time was about food in their movies and they remade several kitchens into sets that we can explore. It also documents the tedious behind-the-scenes process in creating an animated film. In line with the theme of food, they had a short film called “Mr Dough and the Egg Princess” screened in a delightful mini theatre. From the art deco lamps outside the theatre to the illustrations on the ceiling of the theatre, its a dream come through–I mean having your own themed theatre showing tailor made films and perhaps even have deliberately crafted trailers before the film is super cool. The short film is also a silent film such that tourists from any country can understand it without having a hundred different subtitles. My entire family loved it. The short film they make are specifically made for the museum and they renew them once in a while, along with new exhibitions, giving the museum a lot of revisit value.

This is a must-go, however tickets are hard to come by. Tickets for the month go on sale on like the 10th of the month but they sell out real fast. It was the case for me and I had to ask a friend residing japan to help me get it. Apparently they have separate quotas for buying in Japan and from overseas. You should google it.

#5

niko and … ニコアンド
★★★★☆

Address 6 Chome-12-20 Jingumae, Shibuya City,
Tokyo 150-0001
Website  http://www.nikoand.jp/
Access 4 minute walk from Meiji-Jingumae Station

Hours
Mon-Sun: 10:00~23:00

This is actually a retail franchise but I really like it. I appreciate brands that has a strong concept and art direction that they use throughout consistently in different areas. They can be as diverse as having food, furniture or even clothes in the same brand. A good example is IKEA and MUJI whom also have a strong typographical system throughout their brand, be it in furniture design, price tags, food menu or catalogues. 

Ok so in a nutshell, “niko and …” is most well-known for its clothes but they also sell potted plants, furniture, daily necessities and some stores have a coppe café in it. The idea is that you can attach any other brand name behind [niko and …], so they manufacture original items, carry certain brands and also collaborates with certain brands (from Casio to).

However all of these things are designed or selected in line with “niko and …”s strong and unique visual language. I remember when I first visited, I really love how everything is done originally in its brand universe. They had such wide variety of original goods that you don’t know what you might find, they even have their own gachapon machines that sell tiny potted plant figurines. I remember when I purchased my first item then, I got a beautiful receipt that has an exclusive QR code to a beautiful brand film they made that season. I still store that advertisement in my phone, because they really make some of the best advertisements.

 
(ABOVE) Not my favourite advertisement of theirs, but still a good one.

The soul of the brand can actually be found in their special “niko and … ” dictionary which is a special edition publication designed by award-winning graphic designer Naomi Hirabayashi who also did the brand’s identity design. This dictionary explains every tiny preference and inclinations that guides the brand. An example is that dictionary states their liking in old luggages full of stickers and scratches or their emphasis on the combination of metal and wood. All of these principals and values culminate to guide the diverse brand to have a hard-to-define yet consistent colour or tone.

BTW, you can check out their painter denim, it sells quite well and I have it. Perhaps next time I will write a post just talking about their advertisements. LOL.

I passed the entrance exams!
 

 
 

 

Next stop ☞ Taiwan ’18

The World of Wong Kar Wai・映画監督ウォン・カーウァイの世界

 
(ABOVE) A video summarising the charms of Wong Kar Wai, by youtube channel ‘Pitching Room’
(上)監督ウォン・カーウァイの映画の魅力を描写する動画

When I started my first ever internship, my mentor taught me 2 directors whose movies I must watch. One of which was Hong Kong director, Wong Kar Wai, a name synonymous with Asian cinema. His movies are not always crowd favourites, many find it boring, with overly long b-rolls and overly poetic lines. I’ve even heard of a guy who exited the cinema half-way for the first time in his life, while watching Wong’s film. Truly, if you go into the cinema expecting to be excited at the back of your seat, you might be disappointed. His films are more suitable for when you are feeling sentimental, when you are ready to lose yourself in the music.

私は両親に「ウォン・カーウァイ」という監督について感想を聞いたところ、あまり良い評価は得られませんでした。うちの親父の話によると、彼の映画を見た時生まれて初めて映画途中で映画館を出たそうです。

多くの皆はそう思うのはよく分かります。何も説明のない風景のシーンが長いし、詩のようなセリフも多いです。確かにつまらなくてストーリーが進められないと感じします。

Despite the criticisms, he has reached legend status. He is capable of creating an atmosphere in his film that is very Hong Kong and very hard to find anywhere else in the world. The chaotic neon lights. The lonely, slightly dirty and rusty city vibe. The nostalgia of downtown Hong Kong. You cannot categorise these feelings easily, you have to see the films for yourself. I would like to introduce 3 of his movies and an interesting composition or camera technique applied in each.

一方、ウォン監督の映画奇妙な魅力があると いう意見もあります。 夜の街並みのネオン・ライツの中で、少し汚くて錆びている雰囲気しんとが現れ、如何にも香港の下町らしいシーンが良くあります。観客に一種のノスタルジーを与えます。

彼の三つの映画を紹介したいと思います。

 

 
 
 
 
 

(TOP) Iconic scenes from ‘In the Mood for love’, especially those that are well framed
(上) 映画「花様年華」の中の代表的なシーン、特に窓やドアみたいな枠が入られているシーン

★★★★★

The first film has to be Wong’s signature work–‘In the Mood for love(2001)’ It went on to be chosen 2nd place in BBC’s Top 100 best films of the 21st Century. The movie is set in 1960s Hong Kong–a time where men had gelled hair, worn suits and women adorned the cheongsam, dressing up even for short trips to the market. It makes me imagine how my own grandfather looked when he was young, especially since he alway dressed neatly with gelled hair even at an old age. It’s the many little things that give the film its refined vibe, be it suited Tony Leung, walking out of the shadows with a newspaper tucked under his armpit or the cigar smoke filling the air slowly.

A notable film technique Wong used in much of this film is a「frame within a frame」. Many scenes have their main action framed within another frame, such as a door or a window, within the screen itself. This reflects Wong’s obsession with the composition in every frame.

まず、ウォン監督の第一の代表作は「花様年華(2001)」です。

「BBC 21世紀映画ベスト100リスト」の中に、第2位で獲得されていた作品です。1960年代の香港の背景として、男性はスーツばかりを着て、女性はチイパオばかりを着ていた時代でした。脇下で新聞を挟んで影から歩き出すトニー・レオンの姿が格好いいと思われたからです。

映画の画面にだいたい 窓やドアみたいな枠が入られていました。これらのことからウォン監督は構図に関する自分なりのこだわりがあるのをよくわかります。

 

 
 
 
 
 
 

 
(ABOVE) Iconic Scene from movie ‘In the Mood for love’ that I mentioned in the post, men that wear suits and women who wear cheongsam
(上)映画「花様年華」の中に1960年代香港男のスーツ姿や女のチイパ姿を反映するシーン

 

 
 
 
 
 

(1) Erratic and Sketchy scenes that use the [step printing] method
「Step Printing」というカメラ手法通して突飛な速さで動いているシーン
(2) The iconic pineapple scene
代表的な水槽の隣にパイナップルを食べているシーン
(3) Other Iconic scenes
ほかの代表的なシーン

★★★★★

If ‘In the mood for love’ is composed, slow-paced and refined, then the following movie I am going to describe is probably the opposite–it is also one of Wong’s most iconic film, ‘Chung King Express (1994)’. A young actor at that time, Takeshi Kaneshiro took on the role of a policeman suffering from a breakup heartbreak. For a month after breaking up his girlfriend, he collected his ex’s favorite canned pineapple everyday, specifically ones that expire at the end of the month. He then ate all of it at one go, as if letting all of his feelings go. The scene of him musing and feasting on the pineapple beside the fish tank in his lonely apartment is especially sentimental.

Many movies use slow motion or fast motion to dramatize moments, but Wong decided to do both at the same time. He used a camera technique known as 「Step Printing」, he films action scenes in a slow frame rate and then replays it in a faster speed to create an erratic atmosphere that is sketchy with a lot of motion blurs.

第二、「恋する惑星(1994)」という作品も有名です 。

当時若手俳優の武金城さんは失恋したばかりの警察官を演じていました。別れてからの一ヶ月間に、この警察官は元彼女の好きなパイナップル缶詰を毎日一つずつ集めました。そして、最後の日に一気に食べてしまいました。まるで自分の気持ちを切るような感じでしました。彼が水槽の隣にパイナップルを食べている姿は特に印象的でした。

また、ウォン監督はこの映画の中で「Step Printing」というカメラ手法を使いました 。例えば、走っているような速いシーンをスローモーションで再生しました。それなので「荒れ放題」みたいな雰囲気がよく現れました 。

 
 

 
(ABOVE) A song from the Movie OST and certain clips from the movie, ChungKing Express
(上)映画の中の音楽と幾つかのシーンで編集された短い動画

 
 

“毎日大勢とすれ違う。その誰かともしかして親友にだから僕はすれ違いを避けないケガするときもあるけど楽しければいい。”
—金城 武, 天使の涙(1995)
“We rub shoulders with many people everyday. Some may become your close friend, or even your confidant. That’s why I’ll never avoid such possibilities, sometimes it hurts. Not to worry–as long as you’re happy.”
– Takeshi Kaneshiro, Fallen Angels(1995)
“每天,你都会和许多人擦肩而过,他们可能会成为你的朋友或是知己。所以我从来没有放弃和任何人摩擦的机会。有时候搞得自己头破血流,管他呢!开心就行了”
–金城武,堕落天使(1995)
 

 
 
 
 
 

 

(TOP) Iconic scenes from the movie Fallen Angels, especially ones that show the visual effect from wide lens closeup, that bends and warps the image from the movie.
(上) ワイドレンズでクローズアップしたから、スクリーンを曲がれて、画面上の距離を拡大するシーン

★★★★★

Lastly, ‘Fallen Angels(1995)‘, is the least known of the 3, but by far my favourite Wong Kar Wai Film. It starts as a story about an assassin and his agent but it’s ultimately about fate and coincidence–rubbing shoulders with people who walk in and out of your life.

When filming a landscape, cinematographers would usually use wide lens, as it captures a large area. However, they would not use it for closeups as it tends to warp nearby objects, your face would be distorted to look like a banana in front of it. In this film Wong use this 「Wide lens close-up」to achieve a look that makes 2 people sitting close together by a table to look visually distant from each other on the screen, bending the screen image in an exaggerated manner.

最後に「天使の涙(1995)」という映画も特別です。

殺し屋やエージェントなどの役目について映画です。

この映画の中で、ウォン監督は普通のクローズアップレンズの代わりにワイドレンズを使って、クローズアップを撮影しました。そうすると、役者たちの顔はバナナのように曲がれます。この手法を通して、 スケールを拡大することができます。そうすると、実際に近く座っている役者たちはスクリーンに長い距離があるように見えます。

 

 
 
 
 

 
(ABOVE) SPOILER ALERT! The ending from the movie Fallen Angels
(上)ネタバレ!映画「天使の涙」の終わり

There is so much more I can say about Wong Kar Wai, perhaps for another time. He is an irreplaceable figure and marked an era in Hong Kong film history.

ウォン監督は いつも斬新的なテクニックで香港ならでの雰囲気をしみじみと表現します。彼がつい香港映画の一時代を築きました。

 
 

 
 


DISCLAIMER☞The writing and content have seem odd during the attempt to draw a parallel between my limited Japanese ability and English expressions. This is for my practice, let me know areas of improvements thanks. Special thanks to my Japanese teacher, Chris.

Sony RX100 Mark IV: Model Trains

I bought a second-hand Sony RX100 Mark IV about a year ago during my earlier days in army. I was bringing it around till I went to this model train exhibition at Japan Creative Centre where i frequent.  I tried it for the first time, since it is known for its video recording function. Never really a filming/cameramen guy at all, but the handheld manual focus was a joy to use! I stringed the footage and uploaded it a year ago, and since I came across it again, I thought it’s a waste not to leave it in this blog 😂

Total Design・トータルデザインー; Bynd Artisan

(TOP) Bynd Artisan, Holland Village Atelier
(上) 「バインド・アーチザン」Holland Village 店舗
Photo courtesy of ‘On The Grid’

There is a new generation of business owners in Singapore. In the past, the ideal was to expand businesses quickly with cheaper and faster techniques, creating gigantic factories of people who can do labour of robotic speed(both literally and metaphorically) . This works in the past but it is pointless to out-Ebay Ebay or any other of these big companies in this world of endless competition. Their strategy is to win to the bottom, but now what we want is to win to the top.

シンガポールに次世代の経営者がいます。以前は、理想としてロボットのようなスピードで仕事ができる人々が集まる巨大な工場(文字通りであろうと比喩的であろうと)を作り、より安くて速い技術を使って急速にビジネスを拡大させようとしていました。これは過去のことですが、この世界における無限の競争の中でイーベイやイーベイのような大きな組織を作れば意味がありません。それらの戦略は底辺での勝利を目指していますが、今私たちに必要なのは頂点で勝利を収めることです。

People in Singapore are no longer willing to do factory-like work, they no longer want to do unfulfilling labour and be easily replaceable. Especially with the ageing population, businesses have trouble finding this gap of employees who are willing to take up these jobs, often turning to foreign employees from countries like China, India or Malaysia.

シンガポールの人々は、以前のように工場のような労働をしたがらないし、達成感のない仕事や簡単に人員交代できる仕事もしたがりません。特に高齢化とともに、これらの仕事に就きたいと思っている労働者のギャップや、中国やインド、マレーシアのような国々からの外国人労働者の雇用問題をビジネスは抱えている。

(TOP) Brand brochure
(上) ブランドパンフレット
Photo courtesy of ‘&Larry’

A book binding business was also struggling in what they call a sunset industry. The employees were old and they just make the same kind of books over and over again. In 2014, they decided to take the bold step of rebranding their entire brand starting with renaming it “Bynd Artisan”

本作りに関連しているビジネスはまた、斜陽産業と呼ばれることに悩んでいました。労働者は年配で、ただ同じことを繰り返し、同じような本を作っています。2014年、彼らは大きな一歩を踏み出す決意をしました。「バインド・アーチザン」へブランド名を改名し、新ブランドを立ち上げたのです。

このブランドの創業者は、「トータル・デザイン」という信条のもと、新しいベンチャービジネスを確立させました。これには、ブランドデザイン、プロダクトデザインやインテリアデザイン、人デザインやコラボレーティブデザインが含まれています。

The founders built this new venture upon the belief in “Total Design” which includes branding design, product & experience design, interior design, people design and collaborative design.

They brought all their backend services to the frontline, making exciting retail stores, branded as “Ateliers”. They also created a strong brand image that is consistent from the products to the interior. An interior reminiscent of a craftsman’s workshop is reflected from the raw textures of the brick walls to the old book-making machinery, creating a unique, stimulating customer experience. A customized notebook system is designed where one can choose from a wide variety of materials such as rivets, strings, paper and leather, even topping it off with an engraved name to make it the perfect gift.

「アトリエ」として確立された、人々を楽しませる小売店を作り、彼らは全てのバックエンドのサービスを最前線に持ってきました。彼らは、製品からインテリアに至るまで首尾一貫している強力なブランドイメージを作り上げました。ユニークなものを生み出したり、顧客の好奇心を刺激したりするインテリアは、煉瓦壁の感触から古典印字機に至るまで反映されている職人の作業場を思い起こさせます。彼らは、カスタマイズできるノートブックシステムを作りました。これは、リベット、糸、紙やカバーのような素材を豊富な種類の中から選ぶことができ、完璧な贈り物のために、それに名前を掘って仕上げることさえもできます。

(TOP) Store Interiors
(上) 店内インテリア
Photo courtesy of ‘&Larry’

Every store is assigned with a more veteran craftsman who has an irreplaceable position, some are even poster boys of the brand. They are taken out of the traditional context of working behind the scenes to the customers where they have a workshop-like space in the middle of the store. They are also paired with a young apprentice, where they will impart their invaluable skills and cultivate the next generation. The special effort made for the growth and welfare of the employees exemplifies “People Design”

全ての店舗に取って代わることのできないベテランの職人を割り当てて、その中の数人はブランドの広告塔になりました。店の真ん中には作業場があり、職人は顧客に作業が見えるように正面を向き、その場の後方で働いています。彼らは若い弟子を付けて、製本の技術と知識を伝えようとしています。従業員の成長ややりがいを感じられる努力は「人デザイン」の代表的な例です。

Collaboration is imperative for always pushing out new, fresh works. Bynd Artisan collaborates with people from a wide range of fields like graphic designers, singer-songwriters and fashion designers. A notable example is when they recently collaborated with the 1 Michelin starred local establishment Iggy’s on a dessert known as “5 Stones”. Inspired by the popular Singaporean childhood game, the dessert exudes a local vibe not just in appearance but also in flavours such as Bandung and Bur Bur Cha Cha.

新しくて、斬新な作品を生み出すために、コラボレーションは常に大切にしなければなりません。バインド・アーチザンはグラフィックデザイナーやシンガーソングライター、ファッションデザイナーなどの幅広い分野で活躍している人々とコラボレーションをしました。最近では、「イギーズ」という一つ星レストランと協力して「5 Stones」というお菓子を作りました。シンガポールの子供たちに人気のあるゲームに感銘を受けて、形だけでなく味も「ボボチャチャ」や「バンドン」のようにシンガポール風にしました。

(TOP-LEFT) 5 Stones – A dessert collaboration with Iggy’s
(TOP-RIGHT) Poster of veteran craftsmen
(上左) 「イギーズ」というレストランとコラボした「5 Stones」というお菓子
(上右) 職人のポスター
Photo courtesy of ‘&Larry’

They grew to 5 outlets in a very short time, reflecting the potential of the brand. They were also awarded the highest accolade of Singapore design, the President’s Design Award, becoming a role model of how design supports businesses. I am confident that in time to come, there would be more and more people with the same mindset and we will see people pushing the boundaries once again.

短期間の間に5つの新店舗がオープンし、ブランドの将来性がはっきりと見えてきました。さらに、2016年にシンガポールで最も権威のある大統領デザイン賞を受賞し、彼らのデザインがビジネスを支える手本となりました。同じ考えを持つ人が増えていくと、ふたたびその境地を開いていく人々が現れるはずです。
 
 

 
 


DISCLAIMER☞The writing and content have seem odd during the attempt to draw a parallel between my limited Japanese ability and English expressions. This is for my practice, let me know areas of improvements thanks. Special thanks to my Japanese teacher, Anna.

Specific Feelings・具体的な感情

“私は普通にイヤホンで映画を聞きます。
ただ対話。
どうやってこんな音程やトーンが表れられますか?
こんな考えよくあります。”
—DEAN, R&Bソングライター

“Usually I listen to movies through my earphones,
just their dialogues.
How do I express these tones or sounds visually?
I think about that alot”
– Dean, R&B Artist

What inspires you? How can you get inspired?
Sometimes it is hard to find the right inspiration and we would get the writer’s block and have trouble delivering good work, no matter what medium you are working in, be it food, music or art.

あなたは何のことからインスパイアされましたか?どのようにインスパイアされましたか?
我々はたまに創作の行き詰まりを会って、ひらめきも来させにくくて、料理や美術や音楽どんな媒質でも、いい作品を作るのは難しいです。

以前、演劇のクラスで私たちが学んだ大事なことは「感情は単独なものではない」ということです。
もし私たちがただ喜、怒、哀、楽をそれぞれに演じたら、人間のような演技ではなくて、ロボットのようになります。
人間の感情は時々わけがわからなくなり、悲しみと憂うつさを感じると同時に怒りも含んでいます。

I remember back in my theatre class days, a prominent thing that we learnt is that emotions are not singular.
We don’t just feel “happy, angry, excited, sad” by itself, that would be robotic.
Sometimes our feelings are mixed up and complicated, you feel sad and depressed but at the same time its embedded with some anger.
 
 
 
 

(TOP-LEFT) Kowloon Walled City, Hong Kong 1970s/1980s
(TOP-RIGHT) Kawasaki Warehouse, a Japanese arcade inspired by the Kowloon Walled City
(上左) 以前の香港九龍城
(上右) 現在九龍城インスパイアされたゲームセンター、Kawasaki Warehouse

 
 

The same could be said about design projects.
We are often briefed to make a work “friendly, cute, cool or professional” and sometimes the result we produce are just like that.
It doesn’t touch their hearts, their reactions would just be “Oh, that’s cute” and that’s it.

デザインでも同じことが言われています。
クライアント の要求に応じていつもフレンドドリー、プロ、かっこいい、可愛いなど基本的な特徴を表現させます。
作った作品も書いたとおりにそのままです 。
人の心も動かないし、「ええ、あれは可愛いですね」と言ってこれで終わり。

特別に感じられた作品から、具体的な雰囲気と性格が見えます。
実際の場所、時代と行動の精神が描写されています。
1980年代VHSの懐古・懐かしさ、パリアールデコの魅力、香港九龍城のさびた雰囲気。
このような特徴が作品の中に表れています。

I observed in works that makes me feel something special, that they have very specific feelings.
They portray the spirit of real places, eras and movements.
The nostalgia of the 1980s VHS style, the glamour of Parisian Art Deco, or the dystopian vibes of the Kowloon walled city.
There is soul in these kind of inspirations.
 
 

 
(ABOVE) Songs by DEAN inspired from movies like Bonnie & Clyde.
From the lyrics to the acting and ambient sounds added, the spirit of the movie can be felt.
(上)「俺たちに明日はない(ボニーとクライド)」とかの映画がインスパイアされた歌手DEANの歌。
歌詞、PVの演技、入った雑音とか映画の精神が感じられます。

 
 

An example can be found in the Korean hip-hop fashion brand Nonagon.
Like hip hop music itself, the brand’s personality is partially mischievous and sometimes aggressive yet is very chill and relaxed at times.
Such flexible and multifaceted vibes are apparent through their logo, website, social media, advertisements and videos etc.

ノナゴンという韓国ヒップホップファッションブランドに、その一例がみられます。
ヒップホップのような茶目っ気と余裕があるのに強い感情もブランドの性格に入っています。
こんな人間のようにフレキシブルで、多面な様子がロゴ、ウェブサイト、広告、動画などのところに表れています。

 
(ABOVE) Nonagon’s Brand Film.
(上) ノナゴンのブランド動画。

 
 

これから作品がもっとはっきり分析できるようになりたい。面白い話題を研究して、もっと具体的な感情を作品に現したい。

I wish to be able to analyze works better from now on, researching into interesting topics and making works that carry specific feelings.
 
 

 
 


DISCLAIMER☞The writing and content have seem odd during the attempt to draw a parallel between my limited Japanese ability and English expressions. This is for my practice, let me know areas of improvements thanks.

DESIGN TRAVEL GUIDE ☞ Hong Kong’16

DESIGN TRAVEL GUIDE ☞
Hong Kong’16

Previously:  DESIGN TRAVEL GUIDE ☞ Taiwan’16

Back in 2016 July, I visited Hong Kong and although long overdue I have been wanting to post about it. When I think of Hong Kong, I think of Wong Kar Wai. It is a city with a unique soul. I listed a few places of my personal interest, as mentioned before, it would not just be places of design interests, but anywhere I enjoy. I merely named it “DESIGN TRAVEL GUIDE” because it is a list made by a designer, me in this case. 

DISCLAIMER☞All these photos are shot and edited in 2016 so the state of the shops reflect that time.

 

 

 

 

#1 Morning Hawks

China Cafe 中國冰室
★★★★★

Address Hong Kong, Mong Kok, Canton Rd, 1077A舖
Access  2 minutes walk from Mong Kok Station exit A2
Price  I can’t remember but pretty sure that it’s really cheap

Hours
Mon-Sun: 6:00~19:00

I tried hard to find a place with the Wong Kar Wai vibes. The very unfortunate thing is that the very western restaurant where “In the Mood for love” was filmed, had closed down a year prior to me coming to Hong Kong. Rather than actual locations I have only managed to find retro places reminiscent of Wong’s movies. One such place was “China Cafe”, established in 1963. It has terrazzo tiling on the walls and floors and they serve ovaltine but no milo. LOL. Absolutely no regrets going there as the feeling was definitely there. It makes the mostly drab trip sort-of worth it. I also learnt that eating macoroni for breakfast is a thing in Hong Kong.

The photos had the vibe of the painting Nighthawks by Edward Hopper and just nice, Wong Kar Wai once said that he compose his scenes as though they are like the paintings of Edward Hopper.

 

 

 

 
 

#2 Exotic
and Happy

Happy Lemon 快樂檸檬
★★★★★

Address 65 Argyle St, Mong Kok, Hong Kong
Website  www.happy-lemon.com/tw/global/address.php?id=10
Access  1 Minute walk from Mong Kok Station Exit B2
Price Same as most bubble tea

Hours
Mon-Sun: 11:00~23:00

The highlight of my trip. Even though it is just a drink franchise, I have long ties with it. Back in my secondary school days, Singapore used to have Happy Lemon and it truly gave me happiness. That was the time when Taiwan milk tea was starting to get popular but they offered a totally exotic range of beverages–Green Tea with Rock Salt and Cheese, Milk Tea with Cream Puff(蛋糕奶茶), Matcha Latte with Coffee Jelly, Lemon Yogurt with Aloe. Needless to say, they were amazing, but they were too ahead of their time and their prices were considered too high then, leading to its eventual closure in Singapore.

They had one of the most brilliant brand identity deisgn as well. I tried so hard to find the studio and creative director who designed the brand and years later I eventually found that it to be Lawrence Choy, a creative director who heads a studio in Hong Kong. It actually casted some doubt onto my appreciation for design, I’m a big believer that design should be functional and support the business, so having Happy Lemon close down in Singapore bothered me. However today I realised that there are many other aspects to make a business work as well and their timing in Singapore was not good, but their branding is still effective. Today they have over 800 stores in many countries.

Ok, back to the main topic, I found Happy Lemon in Hong Kong and I bought 2 large cups straight away;since it is a rare occasion. Of course, I tried menu items that I’ve never tried before. “Salted Cheese Osmanthus Lychee Green Tea” (right) and “Milk Tea Smoothie with Oreo and Creme” (left). It tasted as interesting as the names sound.


 

#3 Pink Dolphins

Tai O Fishing Village 大澳
★★☆☆☆

Website  www.discoverhongkong.com/eng/see-do/great-outdoors/…/tai-o-stilt-houses.jsp
Access 2 and a half hour bus ride from the city

Tai O is a fishing village a bus ride away from the city. You see a different Hong Kong but frankly I was not impressed. I saw dolphins and ate decent fish cakes. I tried to look for hidden gems in the backstreets but I could not find anything particularly interesting. Unfortunately.

 


 
 

#4 Homegrown design & zines

PMQ 元創方
★★★☆☆

Address 35 Aberdeen Street
Website  http://www.pmq.org.hk/
Access  10 minute walk from Sheung Wan Station

Hours
Mon-Sun: 07:00~23:00

I actually had a hard time finding design savvy places as opposed to say–Taiwan. However I did manage to find one cool place in Central called PMQ. It is like one hotspot where many design brands, indie bookshops and other craftsmen gather. The bookshops were particularly unique as they carried locally-published books. I got myself 2, the first is a play on Hong Kong film classics and the second the magazine “100, an icon in chinese typography. The title of this issue of “100” is pretty controversial, it says “We are yellow skin, black hair but we are not chinese(mainland)”

 

 

 

 

 
I went to victoria peak as well, when I got up I realised you need an extra fee for the grand view.
 

I am a cheapskate so I just got a cheap shot from the sides.


 
 

 

Next stop ☞ Christmas in Tokyo ’17

DESIGN TRAVEL GUIDE ☞ Taiwan’16

DESIGN TRAVEL GUIDE ☞ Taiwan’16

I’ll be making a series called “DESIGN TRAVEL GUIDE”, where I’ll just be documenting adventures to cool places, both local and abroad! It would not just be places of design interests, but anywhere I enjoy. I merely named it “DESIGN TRAVEL GUIDE” because it is a list made by a designer, me in this case.

The first stop is in Taiwan! I went before I enlisted and I felt that there are 6 places worth sharing that people might not know of. Its my third time in Taiwan and it never disappoints! There are tons of design places, especially after Taipei was named a design capital along with the recent rise in fame of a wave of Taiwanese Designers. Taiwan —  definitely a satisfying and therapeutic trip.

 
 

#1 Themed
Mini Golf

Mr. Mini-Golf ’s Club 米尼.葛夫俱樂部
★★★☆☆

Address No. 71, Guanqian Road, West District, Taichung City, Taiwan 404
Website  Event Link
Access  On the right side of National Hotel & Behind Park Lane by CMP
Date 7th July – 4th September 2016
Price  $100 TWD for each set of stick and golf balls


The only place that is not in taipei in my list is this miniature golf club in Tai Zhong. There are many tiny huts each housing a mini golf course of varying themes – From sci-fi to horror etc. Its a really delightful place, definitely an interesting place to visit and play. You can even eat small round cheesecakes at the store right beside it!

This golf club is housed by CMP Block of Museums and unfortunately is not a permanent fixture, check out the website for the latest cool events they host!

 


 
 

#2 Exotic
Ice-cream

Snow King Ice-Cream 雪王冰淇淋供應中心
★★★★★

Address 100, Taiwan, Taipei City, Zhongzheng District, Section 1, Wuchang St, No. 65
Website  http://www.snowking.com.tw/
Access  8 Minutes walk from Ximending Station Exit 6
Price Ranging from $80-150 TWD

Hours
Mon-Sun: 12:00~20:00


Snow King is an ice-cream store here since 1947. Located at a corner near the popular street, Xi Men Ding, its a really cool hideout with 73 flavours.

Let me name out some crazy ones: Taiwan Beer, Rice Cake, Tomato, Bitter gourd and Tofu. Sounds bad right? But its really great! I tried Basil and Pork floss flavours, and they had a rich creamy taste, its still sweet and nice with just hints of the basil fragrance and salty floss bits. Of course, for the less adventurous they have friendlier flavours like their signature Watermelon, Mango, Banana, Melon and Milk.

Since it is nearby such a hotspot, I would really recommend making a trip down to this “only in taiwan” shop that serve ice-cream flavours (I dare say for some) that you would not find anywhere else in the world.

 


 
 

#3 Papers, Books & Designs

Pinmo Pure Store 品墨良行
★★★★☆

Address No. 63, Yongkang Street, Da’an District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106
Website  http://www.pinmo.com.tw/
Access 9 minute walk from Dongmen Station

Hours
Tues-Sat: 12:00~20:00
*Closed on Mon & Sun


PinMo is a renowned Taiwanese design studio who opened their own stationery, lifestyle, design, book store/cafe.

While I was there, they were giving some bookmaking workshop at the side tables, and the whole place gave great vibes. I often visit various paper shops in Singapore and what I found here is a great range of paper(over 200 types) with textures that you couldn’t find back home. This was valuable to me as a designer and I bought some samples home.

Again, this was something unique to Taiwan as an establishment by a homegrown studio, a place that reflects the local design culture.

 
 

#4 World-
Class Design Exhibits

Song Shan Cultural Park: Measuring Exhibition 松山文創園區: 單位展
★★★★☆

Address No. 133, Guangfu South Road, Xinyi District, Taipei City, Taiwan 110
Website  http://www.songshanculturalpark.org/
Access  10 minute walk from Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall Station

Hours
Mon-Sun: 09:00~18:00


A former tabacco factory warehouse has turned into a site for the newest design exhibitions. More than just various museums like the Red Dot Design Museum, there is also a famous Eslite book and lifestyle store.

I visited there when an exhibition called “Measuring” was on; A notable thing is that it is imported from Japan where it was curated for the renowned 21_21 Design Sight Museum. It is not hard to imagine that it was an exhibition filled with obsessions about all sorts of unit measurements. Very OCD indeed.

 


 
 

#5 Consulate turned Cinema

SPOT Taipei Cinema 光亮 電影院
★★★★☆

Address No.18, Sec. 2, Zhongshan N. Rd., Zhongshan Dist., Taipei City 104, Taiwan
Website  http://www.spot.org.tw/
Access  3 minute walk from Zhongshan Station Exit 3
Price Standard Tickets at $260TWD

Hours
Mon-Sun: 11:00~22:00


This place was once a US consulate that the American President Nixon once stayed in. It has since been converted to a arthouse theatre and cafe. I gotta say, this place has the summer vibes, very cool. I mean its like an such a beautiful independent cinema, kind of like a rendezvous spot.

The movie I watched there is a german film called “The Most Beautiful Day” about how 2 terminally ill patients document themselves going on the craziest adventures in their last days. Great movie! Make sure to check out the movies available as well as timings in the website before you go there! I was too late because there was a controversial hong kong film, ‘Ten Years'(banned in china) that aired there till the day I went.


 
 

#6 A Novel Night

海辺的卡夫卡 Kafka by the Sea
★★★★☆

Address No. 2, Lane 244, Section 3, Roosevelt Rd, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City
Website: https://www.facebook.com/kafka.republic/
Access  8 mins walk away from Taipower Building Staion Exit 1 or Gongguan station (公館) Exit 4

Hours
Mon-Thu: 11:30~22:30
Fri-Sun: 12:00~24:00


With the cafe owner being a band member(of Rock act 1976) and also a big fan of Haruka Murakami, you know this is going to be good. The cafe/bar doubles as a live stage on weekends, offering gigs to budding musicians. Like how the cafe is named after the famous novel, there is a poetic atmosphere. There was an array of albums and books sold there. Almost as though I was in the painting Night Hawks!

I got myself irish coffee and it was the first time I tried alcoholic coffee. I would say you need an acquired taste, it’s too bitter for a boy like me.

Of course, its advisable to go at night for the vibes.

 

 

 
 

 

Next stop ☞ Hong Kong’16