Shadow art using digital technology by Toshiyuki Inoko from "team lab", meets truly talented stage actor Taichi Saotome.

This movie is part of a scene called "Ryu to Botan"(Dragon and Peony), a sword fight using the latest digital technology.
The performance synchronizing the digital work and Taichi's skilled technique is amazing.

Taichi Saotome was born in Fukuoka, Kyushu. His father is the head of a theatre troupe, and Taichi grew up within this troupe. His first act was in a film called "Zatoichi", directed by Takeshi Kitano in 2003. 

Making full use of visual effects, you can't take your eye off what's coming next from the highly innovated "team lab". 

team lab> http://www.team-lab.com/
Taichi Saotome> http://www.saotometaichi.com/


Announcing the "X Design eXhibition 2011"

"X Design eXhibition 2011"

【 date 】
Saturday 7th / Sunday 8th May, 2011
【 hall 】
Tokyo design center "Galleria hall"
(admission free)
【 web 】http://xd.sfc.keio.ac.jp/exhibition2011/

A brief introduction of the exhibition:
The "X Design eXhibition", an annual event which first started in March 2009, is a joint presentation by the laboratories participating in the XD programs.

The XD programs includes multidisciplinary design studies, in fields such as music, videos, products, media-art,interface, robototics etc. Students influence each other beyond the boundaries of the individual areas creating design synergies.

The theme for this year is "Joint". We have gathered many students works and achievements for the exhibition. We have invited leading creators and prepared discussion-sessions within the event.

An example is shown in the following link, "Flagella" created by Shunji Yamanaka, from the "Honetenn". (Unfortunately not on display at XD.)

【Guest speaker sessions】
1) 7th May  …Details coming soon.
2) 8th May  … 
【guests】Ryouta Kuwakubo(Media-artist) × Kinya Tagawa (Design engineer)×Shunji Yamanaka(Professor at Keio)"
【hall】Tokyo design center "Galleria hall"

We sincerely look forward to welcoming you to our exhibition.


"Everyone has 15 seconds of fame", were Andy Warhol's words. 14 year old William Kamkwamba from Africa, who managed to generate electricity from the wind, is definitely one of them who made the best of his 15 seconds.

William Kamkwamba is a world-class celebrity now after his book been published from Amazon. Yesterday it was re-tweeted by Masayoshi Son, founder and CEO of Softbank (@masason) about this 14 year old on twitter, making it re-tweeted even more from all over Japan.

Moving Windmills: The William Kamkwamba story
William Kamkwamba's new book "The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind," written with Bryan Mealer was released September 29th in the US. 


Concept model of an organic cell phone, “FO Phone”

Concept model of “FO Phone”.
The design was developed by an advertising agency.
At present, it seems we have fewer opportunities to feel the beauty of nature around us due to rapid technology development.  This cell phone imitates nature, and the design gained inspiration from natural elements such as fruits and plants.
It has a mysterious, soft shape that looks like an ancient Japanese jewelry called “Magatama”.
Made to have an Interactive interface using holographic technology. This phone changes its color depending on factors such as the users feelings or the day’s weather.
It’s aimed at developing a new type of 3D cell phone unlike those currently available and introducing more of a SF like feel.
It’s still unclear how or if it will come to market, what materials or technology it will adopt, but on first sight, visually it sure looks cool. 


I collected 44 years worth of my work and made a 4 part slideshow on YouTube. (WATER_DESIGN_PART 1/4 to PART 4/4) I hope you enjoy it.

I call myself a “Concepter”. It derives from something that Yoshiro Hosono; who works for Stardust Promotion, called me some time ago. I’m not a designer, not a director nor a producer. From the beginning the title stuck and it got used more and more, even though there is no clear definition of what a “Concepter” is.

Looking back to the days when I was just 19 years old and started attending Kyoto University of Arts, I just wanted to grow up and be an adult. That's why I got married, went over to the United States, and started up my own company in SanFrancisco, called TATOO COMPANY. This was the origin of WATER DESIGN. It’s been 44 years since those days. It may seem that I have done many things since, but I was only taking one step at a time and doing the things that interested me, and presented themselves to me at that moment in time.


14 year old Malawian boy succeeded in the attempt of making a wind power generator, after 7 years of self education.

Everything was running short in the poor village of Malawi. Only the wind was left there blowing through the dead fields and the parched red soil. William Kamkwamba dreamed of powering his village with this wind, the only resource that was freely available to him. It has been 7 years since Malawi suffered one of the worst droughts, and now 5 of his windmills generates electricity and pumps water in his hometown, north of the capital, Lilongwe. The drought in 2002 left his father, a farmer, without any income, and Kamkwamba was kicked out of school when he couldn't pay his school fees.

He spent his days at the library, where a book with photographs of windmills caught his eye."I thought, this thing exists in this book, it means someone else managed to build this machine," he said. -I wish I had the same feelings when I was younger.
He looked for items he could use to build a windmill from the junkyards, including bicycle parts, plastic pipes, tractor fans and car batteries. For the tower, he collected wood from blue-gum trees. "Everyone laughed at me when I told them I was building a windmill. They thought I was crazy," he said.
Villagers would surround him while he quietly bolt pieces using a screwdriver made of a heated nail attached to a corncob. Three months later, his first windmill churned to life as relief swept over him. As the blades whirled, a bulb attached to the windmill flickered on. No one is going to think he is crazy anymore, he gave a sigh of relief after his success. 

He has made 5 windmills in the past 7 years; the tallest of them is 11 meters high. He also built one at an area school that he used to teach classes on how to build windmills. Neighbors regularly trek across the dusty footpaths to his house to charge their cell phones, or listen to the radio.
A lot of environmental organizations and groups around the world praised his challenge, including former U.S. president Al Gore.

source:CNN japan
source:CNN world


A cell phone born to make the forests happy.

“TOUCH WOOD”, from Docomo.
I introduced this cell phone made of wood before when it was just a concept model (http://naokix.iza.ne.jp/blog/entry/1884340/), and now it’s on sale as a product from Sharp (SH-08C).

Made out of real Japanese Cypress wood (Hinoki), each product has a different look and texture from the natural grain of the wood. A beautiful phone, no two are identical.
Above is the promotion movie. What a beautiful work of art.

“Save the forests of Japan” is the message from Docomo’s official website.
If the forests are left completely to grow naturally by themselves it is not the best conditions for healthy trees. Part of replacing and replanting forests requires management and maintenance by forest workers. Thinning out the forests from time to time is necessary to promote healthy trees. Turning these thinned out trees into useful wood products could help develop a new business and at the same time help fund the forest management.

Docomo received many pre-sale orders for the “Touch Wood” cell phone and the first batch of phones were all sold out immediately upon its launch on 28th March. They haven’t announced when they will be available again but future batches are expected.
A portion of the sales revenue will be donated to forest protection.


1977,The year appleⅡwas announced, ANTON PERICH invented a enormous painting machine that prints images using ink-jet technology, before it was commonplace to have a computer.

Maybe ANTON PERICH learnt it from how WARHOL did it and deliberately shifted the colorful silkscreen and the photograph, to make a picture as if it was just about to get ripped in to pieces. Besides the images WARHOL had, the mechanic-like design resulted in the loud colors floating and scattering in his works. I only think ANTON PERICH wanted to make a show of this process.

It starts to get dramatic around from 1:30. Past 5:57, portraits that reminds us of Warhol are been made. “I want to be a machine” are Warhol’s words, which I like just as much as I like his works.

These are WARHOL’s words:
"If you want to know all about Andy Warhol, just look at the surface of my paintings and films and me, and there I am. There's nothing behind it."
"I like boring things. I like things to be exactly the same over and over again."


There is some movement towards trying out new technologies like “Smart Grid” when reconstructing the Tohoku region worst affected by the Great Earthquake.

Practically everything was destroyed where the earthquake and tsunami was worst in the Tohoku region. Huge funds and time will be required to replace the entire infrastructure simultaneously.  “The Smart Grid zone” is one way to think of this disaster not just negatively through the devastation, but also as offering opportunities to reconstruct something new.
This kind of smart grid plan has been anticipated globally for some time, but it hasn’t been tried out extensively anywhere yet. Some say this is a great chance to try it out, on a large scale, as a controlled trial. Old or new, renewing the infrastructure will cost enormous amounts of money, so it should not be so difficult to justify trying out the latest technology instead.
A senior executive from a major electric company said “The power line infrastructure is extensive and therefore very expensive. If trying to change over from current to future technology the costs can be higher and also the risk at changeover from one system to the other can be unacceptably high.”
He went on “The smart grid plan was expected in the US at first but so far they haven’t implemented it. It is true, the technology isn’t mature yet, but utilizing Japanese technology and knowhow, we are sure we can design and implement a world-class system.”

 “A senior executive of Panasonic Micro Grid Technology, said they are willing to invest in ways to regenerate the electricity supply infrastructure in the Tohoku region. Many other companies have the same enthusiasm, including electricity companies working on power lines, IT companies working on Smart grid technology (as mentioned above), and companies working on renewable energy systems such as wind, solar and hydro.”
The automotive industry seems passive towards the integration of smart grid and Electric Vehicles (EV). For example, a vehicle developer in Nissan says, “The original way to use EV is only on the road” and a Mitsubishi output device developer says, “We are not responsible for the degradation of the battery when using the EV with smart grid.” Maybe now is the time for the automotive industry to work more positively with the electric companies and stop thinking negative against smart grid.


This year could be called “The first year of online donation”. A Web site “Just Giving Japan” raised 500 million yen through online donations, within 2 weeks of the crisis.

Money donated towards the people who suffered from the earthquake and Tsunami has been made, predominantly through “online” donations. Some charity websites have seen 15 times their normal annual donation level in just the 2 week period following the earthquake.
Some people have suggested that Japanese people are less willing to donate online when compared with western nations.  Many charity websites looking for donations are coming up with new ideas to try to change this notion and to widen the charity market in Japan.

“Why not call this year the first year of online donation?” says Daigo Sato, executive director of “Just Giving Japan”, a nonprofit organization supporting charity websites attracting donations. This could follow on from the term “first year of volunteer”, which was coined when the Hanshin earthquake hit 16 years ago.

“Just Giving Japan” traces its origins back to the UK based website “Just Giving”, which launched 10 years. Its concept is to gather together donations raised by individuals who gain sponsorship from their friends/family and colleagues for individual causes, such as “stop smoking for 3 months”, or “running a full marathon” etc. Then by accumulating all the donations they can benefit a large cause, in this case the people in the Tohoku region.
It has already raised approximately 10 billion yen, from over 12 million people around the world.
The Japanese version only started in March, last year. The website raised 30 million yen in one year, but with the help of some celebrities and sports player, the website achieved approximately 500 million yen in the 2 weeks after the disaster. The money raised are going to be handed over to the organizations that provide, for example daily necessities, services for pregnant mothers and restoration of schools.


Private story Naoki Sakai

My former teacher Hideki Kimura (at the Kyoto City University of Arts)  wrote this article, reviewing my way from the wild student till today  through his eye. He had a big influence on my life. May be everybody  knows somebody like this. I was & still am very happy about this! But,  if I look back over the last years of my life, in feel like looking at  another person...  And this is a strange feeling, don't you think?

Naoki Sakai: Design Concepter & Producer of Nissan's concept-car "Be-1",who was starting as an art student, with music events like MOJO WEST...

Brown-dyed long hair, a frilly shirt, light make-up, a lot of rings,  and of course very dark sunglasses, a perfect outfit for being a  
student in fine arts. The Kyoto City University of Arts (now: Art  University) is a public school, full of art students, who are taking  
the challenge of taking an examination, wearing grimy working clothes -  all that was over 35 years ago. Those days starting with creating the  revolutionary "Peacock-Fashion" for the singer Peter (real-name:  
Shinosuke Ikehata). Later with the "Be-1" (Nissan) or his camera  "O-Product" (Olympus), witch was selected for the permanent collection  of the San Francisco MOMA (Museum of Modern Art), he had his break  through as a designer. This is all about Naoki Sakai.

Sakai was born as the oldest son. His father was running the Sakai  Transport Company in the city of Shijonawate (Osaka), the same city the  famous writer Toko Kon describes as the "navel of Kawachi Town" (now  East-Osaka). And that's not all. Like a real wild "Kawachi Guy" he was  a part of the local rugby-team. His father came actually from  Yosakoi-town (Kyoto), from a family with very high respect for Japanese  classics. Even now his aunt is running a the antique house in  
Hakubaicho (Kyoto) called "Sakai Shunyodo". And Naoki Sakai, with all  this background switching bravery to fashion-business, could have been  easy misunderstood as frivolity. But perhaps the mixture of his rough  hometown Kawachi and the elegancy of the capital became the sources for  his ideas...

While studying Visual Design at the Art University, he was fascinated by Andy Warhol's pop-art or the evolution of electronic media theory  by Marshall McLuhan. Of course, it was impossible to chose such a study  program at that time. But in his teacher Hideki Kimura and in the  marketing-related design office "RR" he found something like that. Soon  he went more often to the "RR" office then to the university...

All kind of traditional values has been reviewed at that time. "Good  design" was may be good for the industrial society, but was is also  desirable for the people? You could see the beauty of modernism in good  design, but also it was inhumane. If you compare to that, there is a  warmth of the human in bad design. Naoki Sakai holds doubt about the  priority of modernization in the industrial society. Like no-one before  him, he was interested in the Japanese tattoo (Irezumi). In his younger  
days he liked Coca Cola so much, that he would like to use a tattoo of  Coca Cola on his back. But this was just the beginning... For advertise  his ideas, he made a presentation for "Dentsu" (the biggest PR agency  in Japan), witch costs 100 million yen! It was just a fantastic plan,  but then he seriously went to Dentsu to ask at their information desk!  However, tattooing was too much connected with the image of branding  iron a cow, and also in the American society a tabu! In the end his  advertisement was rejected...

"It is good doing whatever, but just stop the tattoo...", it was such a  hard day to hear this words from his own grandmother. But he did not  stop it! He still was believing in his tattoo T-shirts, like  kitsch-fashion. Carrying his T-shirts, he went to San Francisco where  he found a Chinese investor, who saw a kind of "Japanese Art Nouveau"  in Sakai's work. And, their were selling well! So they opened the  "Tattoo Company", which became like a small boom! So those tattoo  shirts became Naoki Sakai's debut and soon after he found himself at  the starting point of designing and producing.

Then he was doing a presentation for Nissan's compact car "Be-1", and  even now its limitation production continues at a company in Kyoto.  "More, faster and cheeper", those are the keywords of mass-production,  since the industrial revolution. And, with the Olympus camera  "O-Product" he challenged to the industrial myth, that using plastic  for the body of the camera was not possible. Naoki Sakai changed "the  concept of the specialists" (of that time) entirely. He said that I  just face upsquarely to feel fabulously interested from time to time.  To inquire the professionals world on perspective of the common people.  Production and marketing were caught in homogeneous dimension, but we  had to remove the professionalism, that disturbs the motivation of the  end-user. At the beginning criticized by those professionals, as  "unprofessional" & "imitating", but after his success at European  Motor-shows he became a "Design-Guru" by high reputation. His  management of such big projects gained him without even noticing  worldwide attention to his talent. The Asahi Newspaper described him as  "The Techno Tarzan" at that time...

The origin of the word "Concepter" comes from conception (impregnation  of Blessed Virgin Mary). Yasuhiro Hamano, who is producing anything  from fashion to urban design, described it with a coined word as  "Concept Work" (conception & method of thinking). The words describing  someone "who is making thinks" may vary: producer, coordinator,  director, designer - but what they are really doing is quite unclear!  So as he thinks, a "Concepter" is integrating everything, like a fusion  of designing and producing, more that the old system of dividing work  due to specialists.

Back in 1968 the art-student Naoki Sakai was seeking some "cool stuff",  something that people would "be mad about"! "We liked the street-life!"  Going every-night to the disco, planning fashion-shows and pioneer  "happenings", later known as rock-event called "TOO MUCH". Some times  later, this "TOO MUCH" event became very popular in a club called MOJO  WEST (in Kyoto), where the rock-movement was getting wilder and  wilder... But the beginning of TOO MUCH and those events will be  
unforgettable for all art-students.