Imagine a world where Japan’s artistic eccentricities of the past, the future and the surreally subversive come together for a visual tea party. Welcome to Design Festa! This past weekend, I attended Design Festa’s 31st event (its inception was held in 1994). Upon entering the illuminati tower that is Tokyo Big Sight (back again!), I was immediately greeted by three floors of sprawling artist booths creatively customized to represent everything from an anime metropolis cutout to live miniature Kabuki theatre.
As I walked down each elaborately adorned aisle, I noticed the artistic touches that made this event uniquely and distinctly Japanese despite the event’s international umbrella. I saw prints depicting lonely eyed Japanese schoolgirls strumming guitars blissfully unaware of the Hokusai tsunami behind them. A few booths away, I noticed a cluster of people illuminated by something that resembled a fluorescently lit medicine cabinet. A few of the viewers held tiny vials in their hand. A closer inspection revealed that the specimens in the vials were the color-injected bones of fossilized fish. As I continued to walk through the masses of Victorian maid outfits and furry mascots, I found a booth that was eerily unattended. It showcased tiny, abandoned buildings which I suspected were the flea-circus equivalent of a haunted house. As I declined the offer to receive a cosmetic scab and stitches, I stumbled upon a runway of cherubic Japanese children doing a synchronized dance followed by a Blade Runner inspired fashion show.
Design Festa is the rabbit hole of emergent Japanese artists who push each medium be it wooden robots or water-colored witches. Pick your pop culture poison. The next Design Festa is scheduled for November 2010. This time, I think I’ll see what happens when we step onto the other side of the looking glass booth.
*Some of the photos below link to websites. So clicky-away!
Photos: Optivion & Meghan