To the Western world, Naoto Fukasawa is known as the designer behind many iconic Muji products.
To the Japanese, Naoto is much more. He promotes design education and is a fixture in the Japanese scene. Naoto, together with fashion designer, Issey Miyaki, and graphic designer, Taku Satoh, founded the 21_21 DESIGN SIGHT museum, where they direct and curate each exhibit.
21_21 DESIGN SIGHT has rotating exhibits and I got a chance to see the “GRAND PROJECTS: HOW FAR WILL YOU GO?” exhibit. Grand Projects feature large-scale projects (hence the name “grand”) that inspire a sense of awe and wonder (“how far will you go?”).
These projects are interesting because they strike the perfect balance between conceptual art and purposeful design. Through these works, we can explore how much more delightful and inspiring our daily lives can be.
An installation of glass wall, segmented into parts and filled with comfortable bedding and entertainment. There was even an overnight event where people could stay over, while people on the outside could watch.
Sure, it’s totally weird and voyeuristic, but having been inside, it’s oddly comfortable. There’s something with the soft sheets and the beautiful natural light and courtyard. It should be very uncomfortable but it isn’t.
A plastic cocoon made out of clear tape. It’s a resilient structure with a very interesting form. The cocoon flexes when people walk around inside, but it is secured with very strong metal parts.
The installation is an experience in itself. While lining up, you can hear voices and sounds of the people inside, but you have no idea what it’s like in there or what they’re doing.
It’s a mystery, and when you finally get to climb inside, it’s exciting.
There are other design museums in Tokyo, but 21_21 stands out as the most interesting one. Other museums, like the Nezu Museum, boasts design work, but in reality are filled with historic paintings and artifacts, not design work.
So, 21_21 is definitely worth a visit.