Tokyo is a city so well-versed in tranquil moments and kaleidoscopic clutter that a simple stroll can sometimes feel like wading through a sensorial soup. People often describe Tokyo as a clash of old and new, classic and current — but despite the juxtapositions, a commonality is always design. Perfectly preened gardens and enormous LED screens are both the result of processes, materials and decisions that can tell us more about design and intention. To see what’s happening at the forefront of design in Japan, we recommend you pay attention to the design exhibitions. From traditional crafts to holographic architecture, here are our highlights of Tokyo exhibitions to see this spring.

February Tokyo Design Exhibitions

Modes and Characters: Poetics of Graphic Design

An exploration of Japanese lettering and design, fans of graphic art will rejoice in this collection of creative typography held at 21_21 Design Site. Featuring works by more than 54 artists and designers, “Poetics of Graphic Design” looks at digital typesetting in the internet age, from the 1990s to the present day. The show playfully considers the many ways in which Japanese can be used visually, with its three sets of characters (hiragana, katakana and kanji), and vertical or right-to-left writing styles.

Location: 21_21 Design Site

Date & Time UNTIL Mar 10, 2024・10:00-18:30・Closed on Tuesdays
Price ¥1,400
Location 21_21 Design Sight

tokyo, art, design, exhibition, traditional crafts, ginza store, issey miyake, designer, clothing, textiles, japan, japanese

Issey Miyake x Awagami Factory: On Washi

Issey Miyake’s evergreen innovation and focus on process led to him being thought of as a “designer’s designer.” Throughout his life, Miyake experimented with a range of materials for his clothing collections, such as bamboo and pineapple fiber. Another favorite of his was paper, which is celebrated once more in the SS2024 collection. It is led by current head designer Satoshi Kondo, who oversaw the development of a washi-based yarn. “On Washi” pays homage to Japanese handmade paper. Pieces are pleated, draped and displayed in the brand’s Ginza store, supplied by paper-makers Awagami Factory.

Location: Issey Miyake Ginza 445 store

Date & Time UNTIL Feb 26, 2024・11:00-20:00
Price Free

tokyo exhibition, curation, design, technology, art, design, AI, machine learning

Invisibles in the Neo City

Design meets tech in this showcase of interesting objects based around the theme of Tokyo’s past, present, and possible futures. A playground for the curious, visitors can enjoy the interactive displays ranging from a holographic Nakagin Capsule Tower, to the life-sized game “How (not) to get hit by a self-driving car” by artists Tomo Kihara & Playfool. Other highlights include the new “Biosmocking” material created by fashion designer Yuima Nakazato, and a chance to have your photo taken on one of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic podiums.

Location: Sushi Tech Square

Date & Time UNTIL Mar 10, 2024・11:00-21:00・Sat and Sun until 19:00 | CLOSED ON MONDAYS
Price Free
Location SusHi Tech Tokyo デジタルテクノロジー体感拠点(仮)

March Tokyo Design Exhibitions

katagami, traditional, craft, crafts, japanese, paper, washi, design, kakishibu, art, ise, mie

Katagami: Japanese Paper Stencil Techniques

Katagami are a quintessential part of Japanese textile history. These repeating stencils were used to dye and pattern everything from everyday cloths to silks and yukata, with the hand-carved designs often intricately detailed. Truly objects of ingenuity, katagami stencils are hard-wearing despite being made from paper due to their plant-based waterproofing process. This rare opportunity to view a wide selection in Tokyo will appeal to fans of Japanese fashion history, illustration and textiles.

Location: International Christian University Hachiro Yuasa Memorial Museum

Date & Time UNTIL Mar 14, 2024・13:00-17:00・Open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays.
Price Free
Location ICU Hachiro Yuasa Memorial Museum

tokyo, graphic art, exhibition, ggg gallery, ginza, japan, culture

Yoshirotten: Radial Graphics Bio

An exhibition through the prismatic archives of Tokyo-based designer and art director Yoshirotten. Showing work from the last 20 years, “Radial Graphics Bio” is themed around the RGB model of the three colors used by screens, which the designer likens to three-chord punk music. Expect bold and bright from this trip through spacial work and graphic history.

Location: Ginza Graphic Gallery (ggg)

Date & Time UNTIL Mar 23, 2024・11:00-19:00・Closed on Sundays and National Holidays
Price Free
Location Ginza Gallery Graphic

April Tokyo Design Exhibitions

Fragments of the Future: Laboratory of Science and Design

Design dreams of possible futures in this exhibition directed by engineer Shunji Yamanaka. Based around the theme of a more beautiful, surprising and engaging world, visitors can see prototypes, robots and materials made by Yamanaka and others collaboratively. Showing what can emerge from combining design and scientific thinking, it asks, what could the materials of the future look like?

Location: 21_21 Design Site

Date & Time UNTIL Aug 12, 2024・11:00-19:00・Closed on Tuesdays
Price ¥1,400

For more events happening in Tokyo, check out our events calendar.

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