Type Glasses: New Fonts! by john cheng

Type has added two more typefaces to their collection Din and Futura with three font weights each! The only downside is that these are still only available in Japan only. I had posted about Type previously when the Garamond and Helvetica versions first came out and I still have to say that the Garamond frames are my favorite. Anyone want to be my middle man and Japan and pick up a pair for me?

Kokeshi Dollmaking by john cheng

Watch the beautiful and memorizing process of Japanese Kokeshi Doll making. This looks like a process that would be very meditative and soothing.

鳴子系こけし/こけしの岡仁 手とてとテ -仙台・宮城のてしごとたち- http://tetotetote-sendai.jp/

Toranomon Hills by john cheng

Toranomon Hills (虎ノ門ヒルズ) is a new landmark building between Roppongi and Shimbashi in Tokyo, Japan built by Mori Building Co. Ltd. The mascot for this new landmark is Toranomon (トラのもん), that looks very familiar don't you think? That is because Manga production company Fujiko Pro, creator of Doraemon, is also the creator of Toranomon. How fun! I hope they have a toy made of Toranomon, I'll pick one up the next time I go to Japan if they do!

Square Watermelons by john cheng

Square Watermelons! Harvested on the Island of Shikoku, Japan, only around 200-300 are grown and harvested a year. Originally the melons were grown into the box shape for easier storage in refridgerators, but the problem with this technique is that the melons aren't ripe yet when the desired shape is reached. So instead, the melons are marketed as ornamental plants.

Smilely-Face Screw: Yuma Kano by john cheng

I am trying to create work that makes people feel like what I am feeling when looking at Escher’s work.
— Yuma Kano

Get into the mind of Yuma Kano, the designer of the smiley face screw and the journey he has taken from school to opening is own design office. Read it on DesignMadeInJapan.

Valley of Dolls by john cheng

Berlin-based filmmaker Fritz Schumann, profiles Ayano Tsukimi, a 64-year-old resident of the largely-abandoned village of Nagoro in his short documentary, “Valley of Dolls."

Tsukimi, over a span of 10 years, has sewed around 350 life-sized dolls to represent people who have died or moved away from the village that she resides in. There is something very meditative and tranquil behind her constant creation of these dolls.

Japanese Shipbuilding Technique Inspired Furniture By Jin Kuramoto by john cheng

As I get older, I find my interests shifting. One of those shifts is furniture. When I was younger, I hated going to furniture stores with my parents. I would trudge along bored or run around the store jumping and hiding on and around whatever pieces of furniture that could hold my weight. Now I find myself admiring various pieces of furniture wishing they were in my possession, but alas, it is yet another thing that I really don't need.

These articles of furniture inspired by Japanese shipbuilding techniques, by Jin Kuramoto and  Claesson Koivisto, have really caught my eye. They are extremely elegant even in though they are in the most pure form. There really is no fluff here, just the beauty of their base structure. See for yourself below or check them out in person if you are anywhere near the Stockholm Furniture Fair where they are on display.

Boro by john cheng

All current trends are trends that have been recycled through the times. Something that has trended in the past will probably come back into trend sometime into the future. One of such trends is the Antique Japanese Boro fabric. Well, it wasn't really a trend but more of a practicality in the 18th and 20th centuries. Rural farmers, artisans, crafts people and laborers used and reused cloth to create new fabrics to use because cotton was a valuable soft fabric and they would try to get the most out of these fabrics. As a result, they were patched over and over, stripped down and rewoven and died to create a uniformity in color. It's plain to see that through practicality, beauty has emerged.

Type Face Vision by john cheng

As a person who relies heavily my vision for the type of work that I do, I find it very worrisome that my eyesight gets worse and worse with each passing moment. There really isn't much to help that other than to take consistent breaks, walk outside and look out into the distance and get your eyes checked regularly.

But one upside for needed glasses is the fun you get when picking out glasses! I've recently been obsessed with the older style of round glasses, I think they were very popular during the WWII era mostly because they were standard issue. I stumbled across this style of glasses that I'm partial to over the internets and found myself quite elated!

TYPE is a Japanese eyewear brand that takes its design inspiration from typefaces. The brand is launching on January 30, 2014 with two styles, Helvetica and Garamond, which are available in varying “weights” (regular, bold), and come in a variety of colors and lenses. TYPE is a collaboration of ad agency Weiden + Kennedy Tokyo and eyewear company Oh My Glasses.

-Laughing Squid

Artist: Robert Frederick Blum by john cheng

These paintings are just beautiful. I want to be able to paint like this, but I'm not quite there yet. Practice makes perfect and seeing paintings like this make it all the more inspiring to continue painting.

In 1876 the Cincinnati-born painter Robert Frederick Blum visited the Centennial Exposition, the first official World’s Fair. Although only a mere 20 years since the arrival of Commodore Perry, Japan staged an impressive booth. It left a strong impression on Blum, as well as a writer for the Atlantic Monthly. Impressed by Japan’s elegance and it’s contrast to the excesses of other nations, the reporter wrote: “The Japanese collection is the first stage for those who are moved chiefly by the love of beauty or novelty in their sight-seeing. The gorgeousness of their specimens is equaled only by their exquisite delicacy…After the Japan collection, everything looks in a measure commonplace, almost vulgar.”

14 years later in 1890, Blum seized his opportunity and took up an invitation to attend Japan’s 3rd National Industrial Exhibition in Ueno Park, Tokyo. He spent 3 years there, meticulously documenting Japan in vivid oil paintings that provide an intimate, animated look into a time we know mainly through limited black and white photos.

Source: Spoon-Tamago

Hattori Masanaga: Tsuba, Kozuka and Menuki Artisan by john cheng

I normally don't go clicking around randomly in Youtube, but I was happily surprised when I found this documentary about Hattori Masanaga who is a Tsuba, Kozuka and Menuki Artisan. Watch the video as he tells the story of his growing up while he intricately and expertly carves out beautiful patters and imagery.

Something that stuck out to me in this video was his learning process. He says in the video that when he unknowingly began his apprenticeship, he was never really taught how to do things. His mentor just told him to take some material, carve a line through it and once he was done, grind it away and start again. Masanaga only learned his craft by watching. Watching his mentor as well as the other apprentice work on their craft. This struck me as interesting, because looking back to how I learned, this is very much how I picked up some of the skill sets that I carry today. This is the reason why I watch so many process videos, to learn more and more in order to satiate my appetite for learning. Who knows, maybe I'll try carving a tsuba now.

This is truly craftsman ship at its finest. Taking pride in your work no matter what, is something that you don't see much anymore. I will be the first to come clean to that. Even though my job allows me to be creative, sometimes complaining gets in the way and my craft suffers. I hope in this new year, I will be better at taking pride in what I do and do it to the best of my ability as I hone my skills day to day just as Hattori Masanaga did in his earlier years.

Noramoji Project by john cheng

The Noramoji Project is one of the greatest undertakings that I've come across. Noramoji are fonts made from the deconstruction of storefront signage found all over Japan. These fonts can't be found in books or type kits, they have to be sought out.

The goal of Noramoji is to find these fonts, deconstruct and analyze the fonts in order to recreate a full set of hiragana or katakana and then returning the letters back to the store owners. You can actually download these fonts and donate to fund their ongoing project. The proceeds are then given back to the store owners that the fonts were found from.

What a great idea!

プロジェクトサイトはこちら → http://noramoji.jp/ 古い町並みには、洗練されていないけれど個性的で味のある文字がたくさんあります。このプロジェクトは、そんなステキな文字たちを「のらもじ」と名付け、それを 発見 → 分析 → フォント化 を進めていく活動です。