Tent is one of the annual set pieces of the London Design Festival. Located in the Old Truman Brewery in Hanbury Street, it showcases designers from around the world. In previous years I’ve discovered Mashiko Pottery and textile crafts there. But this year it’s different. There’s a whole section called Tokyo Imagine which features young digital media artists (I’m not sure I’d call them designers exactly) working with new technology, showcased alongside traditional artefacts. It’s refreshing and, judging by the crowds, I wasn’t the only one who found it exciting.
The first display you encounter is Tokyo merry-go-round by Asami Kiyokawa, a dazzling black, white and silver mini-merry-go-round on which images are projected.
It’s hard to capture the impact in mere photographs – it was glittery and exciting but unfortunately didn’t offer the chance of a ride – the glass horses circulated in lonely splendour.
More interactive was Dance in the Rain by YKBX x DanceNotACT x Koda Kumi, which offers an immersive 360-degree musical experience via a head-mounted display. The guy on the left is wearing the viewer – the girl on the right also has a hat made of feathers, which the assistants put on and take off to coincide with relevant moments in the video. No shortage of takers for this one.
I’m afraid I skipped the Zen toilet experience on the basis that it was unlikely to yield useable photos (and there was a queue) but I really enjoyed the visual communication installation by Amana x Arart. At first it looked like a straightforward display of photographs, but when you viewed them through the special handsets (aka iPhones) they moved and changed, pulsated and metamorphosed into something different entirely. My pick of the show.
I enjoyed CG artist and director Hiroyuki Hayashida’s mix of animation and still images.
And Twotone’s Fragments of Now, a series of mirrors that reflect glimpses of passing time, from a few seconds ago to the present.
Kenjya/Kiai Souchyo offered a manga take on Japanese culture.
And creative collective EDP Graphic Works offered four project showcasing their expertise in motion graphics, 3DCG, VFX and drawing animation.
Mixed in with all this technology were some designers working in a more traditional way.
IgaChie showed ten boxes representing the ceremonies of the different seasons.
Industrial designer Denju Narita showed a selection of multicoloured rulers, glass flower vases and jewellery.
And there was a range of furoshiki (carrying cloths) designed by a variety of artists.
All in all, a whirlwind of experiences and effects that brought Japanese pop culture and digital art together in a fascinating immersive melting pot. There’s plenty more to see than I’ve been able to cover so it’s a pity the show is on for such a short time – Tent opened on Thursday and closes today, Sunday 21st September (entry £10). But it’s open until six o’clock tonight, so you can still rush down there and try it out. Let me know how you get on with the Zen toilet.