The reign of the boxheads was remarkably short at Design Festa. We saw only a couple of lonely caped figures in gift-wrapped and abstract boxes, while the animal-head and bird-head people continued to proliferate, like creatures from Max Ernst's "Une Semaine de Bonte" come to life. We spotted foxes, wolves, crabs, ravens, and even a severed tuna head.
The coolest stuff on display at the two-day fair was Hiroto Ikeuchi's mecha-cyborg wearable tech such as earphones, headphones and eyeglasses. These were insanely detailed items of geek gear in cool black, silver and red with all sorts of extraneous, functionally questionable gauges, flanges and cords. The kind of accessories that Gundam robots might choose. The pieces were also surprisingly light to wear, constructed of plastic and metal, and really quite reasonably priced at between 30,000 and 200,000 yen.
If you were looking for even smaller cyborg accessories, there was always the robot jewelry of Roboto no Negoto (Robot Sleeptalk). These were almost nanobots - tiny cyborg men and robot dogs made out of metal plate, wire and beads. Other cool robotics included the molded-resin, hand-painted robots of M&Cooky. There were two types on show: the classic boxy robot with antenna and grasping-claw hands (see the Shinkansen.com logo) and a cute cats-in-space astronaut (which sold out on the second day).
On the cute animal front, Nyanko Brooch has branched out into neckties to go with their cat-head shaped brooches. The ties come in all kinds of polka-dot designs and feature a cat-head knot. Nekomen was showing some very cute cat masks in painted papier mache. The mask makers told us they take three days to make, and can be worn as hair decorations. Atelier Mary explores the creepy-crawly end of kawaii with her felt and leather pencases in the shape of giant caterpillars and stag beetles, and her pochettes in the shape of large warty toads.
In the low-light area we were drawn like moths to a flame to the silk-cocoon lampshade stand. The hairy cotton-fiber lanterns glowed with a soft warmth, and on closer inspection, were home to fairy figures clinging on to tendrils and sitting on cocoons. The backlit dioramas of Parisian shopfronts also proved surprisingly popular, as crowds of young hipsters jostled to take photos of the 19th-century style wigmaker, Boulangerie and seedy bar.
In the ever-expanding sundries section, we found the perfect gifts for science-loving nephews and nieces: Beaker-kun, a range of stationery products featuring cartoon characters based on chemistry lab equipment such as beakers, test-tubes, flasks and Bunsen burners. And for city gardeners too lazy to even water their cacti, the ceramic botanicals of Studio Zak might be the answer. Perfect ceramic cactus plants in ceramic pots that only require occasional dusting.
Photos: #1 (above), 2-3, 17-18 Design Festa fashions. #4 Hiroto Ikeuchi's cyber gear. #5 Robot-themed jewelry from Roboto Negoto. #6-7 Robots and space cat from M & Cooky. #8 Cat neckties from Nyanko Brooch. #9 Cat masks from Nekomen. #10 Insect accessories from Atelier Mary. #11 Cocoon lamps. #12 Parisian diorama. #13 Beaker-kun. #14 Cacti from Studio Zak. #15 Artist Naruhatsu Maco. #16 Crayon artist Maaco.
Cyborg accessories and chem-lab characters at Design Festa