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AXIS vol.156 in store now!

12.02.29

Cover interview: WOW
WOW, which has been opening up a new horizon in visual design, is now setting its sights on the creation of more fluent communication as a new proposal related to linking visual design with nature, the human body, and technology. I talked to WOW’s representative Hiroshi Takahashi, art director Mamoru Kano, and creative director Kosuke Oho.

Feature: Car venture companies— Show us the automotive lifestyles of the future!
In recent years, the automobile industry has been undergoing great change. In response, existing manufacturers as well as startups armed with new ideas are engaging in cutting-edge initiatives such as the development of electric vehicles, low-fuel consumption solutions, and linkups with smart grids. Venture companies, alive with concepts and rapid responses to the market that major manufacturers can’t match, are climbing aboard the wave of a paradigm shift taking place in the very structure of the industry. In this special feature we shine the spotlight on automotive venture companies taking up the challenge of developing new vehicles and creating the related infrastructure and services, and give thought to the coming shape of the car and the new automotive lifestyles it will engender.

Traditional Craft Forms: Hats
There’s an artisan who makes hats to fit the physical form of the Japanese head and suit their demeanor. He is Bunjirow Nishikawa of Nishikawa-Seibou Co., Ltd. in Osaka. Bunjirow creates beautiful hats by carefully hand-blocking panama and felt hat bodiesーthe initial plain hat materialsーand subjecting them to numerous manual processes. Although he doesn’t follow trends, his hats quietly exude a character that definitely says “Bunjirow.” We followed Bunjirow and his dedicated approach to making hats in an environment surrounded by traditional machines.

Opinion: Hirofumi Tamai, President of Muscle
Ever since it was established in 1988, Muscle has been conducting research into artificial muscle for robots and developing an array of hit products in the field of industrial machines. Under the philosophy of “specializing in thinking,” Muscle boasts a powerful technological capacity and the company has now embarked on the full-scale development of robots. We visited its president Hirofumi Tamai at the company’s main office in Osaka.

topics: Useful design changes society
— Brazilian slum improvement project by Marcelo Rosenbaum

I first encountered Marcelo Rosenbaum at Experimenta Design held in Lisbon in 2011. His lecture, which began with a story of his trials and tribulations in building trust among the gangs and residents of a slum, was truly heroic. Rosenbaum communicated his excitement to the audience nonstop throughout his talk, and his advocation of “useful design” without referencing the terms “fair trade” or “social enterprise” was quite novel.

topics: Project Japan—Dissecting A Japanese Avant-Garde Architectural Theory
In Japan in the 1960s, future-oriented movements such as the Metabolism movement launched by Kisho Kurokawa and others, and Kenzo Tange’s A Plan for Tokyo 1960, soon engulfed both architects and politicians and set its gaze on architecture, cities, and the nation. Rem Koolhaas, a major controversialist in the world of contemporary architecture, and Hans Ulrich Obrist have written a book called Project Japan: Metabolism Talks… (Japanese edition published by Heibonsha) that takes a close look at the movement based on his interviews of the surviving members. Just opening the voluminous 700-page book evokes the atmosphere of that bygone age.

topics: What nendo’s experimentation and flexibility mean
In December of last year, nendo held a full-fledged private exhibition for the first time in approximately six years. The exhibition unveiled the results of many experimental designs that had never been seen in Japan until then, and impressed visitors with nendo’s creativity and flexibility. We asked Oki Sato of nendo what the design office is all about.

other topics:
Found Muji according to Naoto Fukasawa
The TOFU Project Entrepreneur Program
Hong Kong Business of Design Week 2011
Automotive Designers’ Night Tokyo 2011

other series:
The Prototype: Honda Bodyweight Support Assist
Blinking Memory: An accidental Little Cuckoo
Masaaki Hiromura’s Junglin’: Stimulation and arousal
Life in Tokyo with civil engineering: Let’s take the Metropolitan Expressway etc.

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