Best artworks and installations to see at Designart Tokyo

Written by
Kirsty Bouwers

One year and a subtle rebranding later, Designart Tokyo (formerly Designart) is back for round two. Started by a collective of established Tokyo-based creatives, including Shun Kawakami, Astrid Klein, Mark Dytham and Akio Aoki, the ten-day festival takes over the city and turns it into a veritable museum, with an eclectic range of 110+ exhibitions and installations which straddle the axis of art and design – all of which are for sale too. Walk around Omotesando, Aoyama, Roppongi or Daikanyama anytime until October 28, and you're likely to bump into one of Designart's pieces, which have been incorporated into retail spaces, office buildings and galleries. 

Designart Tokyo Yuko Nagayama Akira Fujimoto | Time Out Tokyo

Keisuke Tanigawa

2021# Tokyo Scope

The festival purposely doesn't have a real 'hub' to speak of, but one of their larger pieces is inside Minami-Aoyama's Avex office building. Designed by Yuko Nagayama and Akira Fujimoto, '2021# Tokyo Scope' is a huge, silvery balloon inflated inside the atrium, which acts as a statement on what Tokyo could be like post-Olympics. The installation includes a physical red line drawn from the site of the old Olympic Stadium all the way past Roppongi Hills towards Toyosu, literally connecting the past and the future.

Designart Tokyo Canada Goose | Time Out Tokyo

Keisuke Tanigawa

Site-specific installations

Besides office buildings, there's plenty to see in a range of shops and galleries, including the window of Canada Goose (pictured above), Restir's courtyard (below) and the Axis building (top image). It's worth downloading their (paid) On The Trip app in advance, so you can have an audio guide to help you understand what you're actually looking at. The Canada Goose window, designed by Sou Fujimoto, is fitted with the amount of feathers used to make a single sleeve of their puffy winter jackets, and is lit up at intervals. These little tidbits of information bring a bit more life into the exhibitions.

Designart Tokyo Yoshirotten | Time Out Tokyo

Keisuke Tanigawa

Works by international artists

Beyond domestic talent, a few countries are also getting their time in the spotlight. That includes Sweden, which is celebrating 150 years of relations with Japan this year, and Lithuania, where the second largest city of Kaunas was selected as European Capital of Culture 2022. You'll find a selection of works by young Swedish and Lithuanian designers in locations such as Broadbean or Time & Style (inside Tokyo Midtown). 

Designart Tokyo Johnny Chiu Happier Cafe | Time Out Tokyo

Keisuke Tanigawa

Interactive art

It's not all static art, however: you can also get your hands dirty at some installations. The most notable is Johnny Chiu's Happier Café, which is displayed in not one but two locations. At the Tokyo Midtown outpost, the 'café', which has been created entirely with netting and some poles, showcases a number of Taiwanese design items, while the installation at B&B Italia is made completely from brown paper. The idea is to take a marker and create your own drawings or memories on the paper or netting; at the end of the exhibition, Chiu himself can simply wrap it up, take it somewhere else and then roll it out again to show how people in Tokyo interacted with the café. 

Designart is on from now until October 28, 2018 – find more details and the full line-up on their official website

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