Seconds after touchdown at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, I’m snapping photographs in an uncommon place: the bathroom.

It’s not simply the heated seat that wows me, however the modern management panel I can use to scroll by means of bidet-style water jets, and to programme the music the bathroom performs as I’m going about my enterprise.

The designers of the award-winning restroom (the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transportation’s Bathroom of the 12 months award, to be exact) at close by Narita Airport went even additional. Right here, cubicles cover behind materials impressed by conventional shoji screens. Vibrant projected photos resemble shadows, giving guests the impression they will see into the cubicles. 

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It’s a improbable instance of how Japanese design and artwork go hand-in-hand, and I’m at Tokyo’s second annual Design Artwork pageant to study extra.

For 10 days studios and galleries host exhibitions showcasing prime designers and artists, together with Keita Suzuki, one in every of many individuals blurring the strains between the 2 disciplines. At his exhibition, I’m notably taken with a pastel-hued vase. Suzuki reveals it’s a speaker – place a telephone inside and it amplifies the sound. I inform him I’ve been recognized to make use of pint glasses to create the identical impact and he laughs. “That was my purpose – to create one thing prettier than a pint glass!”

leftCreated with Sketch.
rightCreated with Sketch.

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Visitors are greeted by a velociraptor

HUIS TEN BOSCH

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He guides you thru the check-in course of

HUIS TEN BOSCH

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Rooms are literally pretty easy

HUIS TEN BOSCH

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Although every room comes with a butler

HUIS TEN BOSCH

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The bedside butler is not for everybody

HUIS TEN BOSCH

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A large claw takes care of baggage duties

HUIS TEN BOSCH

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In case of language boundaries, there are stay employees readily available behind the scenes

HUIS TEN BOSCH

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Obtained baggage? There’s assist

HUIS TEN BOSCH

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Your trusty concierge

HUIS TEN BOSCH

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Welcome to the lodge of the long run

1/10

Visitors are greeted by a velociraptor

HUIS TEN BOSCH

2/10

He guides you thru the check-in course of

HUIS TEN BOSCH

3/10

Rooms are literally pretty easy

HUIS TEN BOSCH

4/10

Although every room comes with a butler

HUIS TEN BOSCH

5/10

The bedside butler is not for everybody

HUIS TEN BOSCH

6/10

A large claw takes care of baggage duties

HUIS TEN BOSCH

7/10

In case of language boundaries, there are stay employees readily available behind the scenes

HUIS TEN BOSCH

8/10

Obtained baggage? There’s assist

HUIS TEN BOSCH

9/10

Your trusty concierge

HUIS TEN BOSCH

10/10

Welcome to the lodge of the long run

Suzuki’s first fee was the redesign of a Japanese prepare. It’s typical of the variety which units Japanese designers and artists aside. “We’ve at all times used totally different supplies – paper, lacquer and stone,” he explains. “Folks affiliate Japan with cute stuff and manga, though it’s just one side.“ However like his contemporaries, he’s nonetheless eager to include conventional components. “I worth our heritage, and consider locality will develop into extra vital for Japanese artists.” 

Keita Suzuki designs vases which are additionally audio system (Tamara Hinson)

It’s a degree confirmed on the world’s largest digital artwork museum: the MORI Constructing Digital Artwork Museum, which opened in June 2018. It’s trippy, strange. Virtually 1,000 computer systems and projectors remodel the 107,000-square-foot house with gentle, color and sound. Patterns beamed onto partitions swirl once I contact them, and I can management the lighting in sure rooms with my telephone. But it surely’s additionally intrinsically Japanese. Within the café, hidden projectors overlay clients’ plates with oriental blooms, and elsewhere, partitions undulate with photos of transferring waves, drawn utilizing the wonderful strains related to Ukiyo-e, a standard Japanese artwork type.

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Summary artist Hanako Yoshida’s exhibition isn’t in a gallery, however the showrooms of Tokyo-based inside design model SieMatic. She’s one other artist erasing boundaries between design and artwork. Certainly one of her largest items is a kitchen counter, daubed with paint tinted pink by chillies. One other of her displays is a vibrant folding display, made with aluminium slightly than the fragile materials normally used. Artwork and design are a pure match, says Yoshida: “Japan is a small nation with a comparatively small artwork scene, and artists and designers have realised that working collectively is a good factor, particularly from a enterprise perspective,“ she says.

MORI Constructing Digital Artwork Museum opened in June 2018 (Tamara Hinson)

One instance of that is T-Web site. Tokyo bookstore chain Tsutaya hoped to revitalise the Daikanyama neighbourhood by creating an area which wasn’t only a store however a gathering place, with cafés and exhibitions. Klein Dytham Structure, which created the hi-tech Narita Airport rest room, designed it – three stunning buildings, linked by winding footpaths. The Japanese are avid readers, however don’t buy many books – they go to bookshops, learn books, then return them. T-Web site was created with this in thoughts. Guests are inspired to learn the shop’s books on the cafés which line the footpaths and fill cosily lit corners. There’s even a classy studying lamp-dotted bar (T-site opens till 2am), full with guide print-wallpaper.  

There are common artwork exhibitions – one other Tokyo trademark. Artwork isn’t confined to galleries right here. On the Park Resort Tokyo, which works intently with the Hagurodo Gallery, 31 rooms have been given spectacular makeovers by Japanese artists. 

“In 2008 there was the Lehman Brothers catastrophe, after which the earthquake, and customer numbers dropped,” says Yuko Matsubara, head of selling. “We wished to discover a new option to entice guests.“ 

T-Web site is a brand new bookshop idea (Tamara Hinson)

In my room, the partitions resemble a thick forest, and one other has an enormous mural created from silver foil. My favorite room options monumental photos of sumo wrestlers. “Japanese artwork is exclusive as a result of we’re a small nation, so we’ve received all these outdoors influences, however on the identical time it feels very Japanese,“ says Matsubara.

No artist proves this greater than Yayoi Kusama, Japan’s most well-known artist. She suffers power hallucinations – when she closes her eyes, she sees the dots which have develop into her trademark. On the Yayoi Kusama Museum, I discover spotty pumpkins (one other Yayoi trademark) and work depicting slug-like shapes surrounded by dots. Her work feels carefree, even when it comes from a darkish place. And there’s undoubtedly technique in her insanity. The pumpkin is a logo of Naoshima, generally known as Japan’s artwork island resulting from its many galleries. 

Yayoi Kusama’s signature pumpkins (Tamara Hinson)

My go to to Yayoi’s museum jogs my memory of an earlier chat with a Design Artwork curator. “There’s that Japanese DNA in all our art work,“ she’d defined. ”We’re influenced by different locations however we’ve simply received this distinctive manner of expressing ourselves.“ 

To not point out the world’s coolest bogs.

Journey necessities

Getting there

British Airways flies from London Heathrow to Tokyo from £733 return.

Staying there 

Artist Rooms on the Park Resort Tokyo from £186.

Extra info

designart.jp