JOANNA KAWECKI’S TOKYO
ORIGINALLY FROM ADELAIDE AND NOW BASED IN TOKYO, THE CO-EDITOR OF BILINGUAL CULTURAL JOURNAL CHAMP MAGAZINE SHARES HER FAVOURITE DISCOVERIES.
The co-editor of bilingual cultural journal Champ Magazine takes you on an insider’s tour
WHAT CONTINUES TO CAPTIVATE me about Tokyo is its ongoing connection of traditional and contemporary elements, with local and international influences creating a one-of-a-kind cultural and creative landscape. Tokyo is a contemporary reflection of commerce and Japan’s values as a whole. The Japanese have an acute sense of attention to detail, respect for others and sincere appreciation for craftsmanship and good design. There is also a deep historical aspect to the culture, which is rich in philosophy heavily influenced by both Chinese and Indian schools of thought such as Zen, and religions such as Shinto, Buddhism and Confucianism. Most intriguing is the unique vocabulary used for describing deep Japanese aesthetics or emotions, which has no English equivalent. Some examples of this are wabi sabi (beauty in imperfection), yugen (deep awareness of the universe), mono no aware (nothing lasts forever) and honmono a real object, or to be wholeheartedly true). Tokyo is one of the world’s biggest design capitals due to an inherent element of humanity, which is applied to each discipline, design process and development of products or ideas. It’s a city abundant with influential thinkers and designers who unite for the progression of a greater society and an informed culture. There’s Kenya Hara of Muji, who set up the Nippon Design Centre. It’s an independent office and base for the House Vision initiative, which explores the opportunities for better working practices between disconnected and often regretfully wasteful Japanese household industries. Then there’s Issey Miyake, Taku Satoh, Naoto Fukasawa and Noriko Kawakami, who joined forces to run 21_21 Design Sight [detail, opposite page, top right], a progressive gallery space that champions education in creativity and design. The building itself is designed by Tadao Ando, who also engages in and sets up social projects such as the Setouchi Olive Foundation. Where else in the world can you find this? Only in Tokyo.