Art, Culture,

Inside the mind of Japan’s design geniuses – Japanese designers exhibition at 21_21 DESIGN SIGHT

Have you ever wondered where Japan’s world-famous designers get their ideas from, how they are inspired, and how they combine their thoughts and create great designs? Currently, 21_21 DESIGN SIGHT in Tokyo Midtown is having an exhibition showing the tools and original drawings of Japanese masters!

Designed by Japanese architect Tadao Ando, 21_21 DESIGN SIGHT has an exciting architecture! Photo: Masaya Yoshimura

Opened in Tokyo Midtown in 2007, 21_21 DESIGN SIGHT is a venue with various exhibitions focusing on design. The name of the venue stems from the English expression “20/20 Vision (Sight)” – for a perfect vision. The name “21_21 DESIGN SIGHT” was chosen with the intention of ​making us ​”look ahead”, observe, and getting a new perspective on things.

How designers design their designs

The special exhibition Secret Source of Inspiration: Designers’ Hidden Sketches and Mockups features sketches and tools of current and former members of the Japan Design Committee.

The Japan Design Committee is an organization founded in 1953 and consists of architects, critics, and designers from various fields. When you look closely, you will realize that the members are all very famous people! Together with the famous department store Matsuya Ginza, the committee has been recognizing excellent products and hosting various design showcases.

Posters for design exhibitions by the Japan Design Committee. It’s fun to see how the poster designs slowly change over time.

Inside Gallery 1, three of the four walls are used as a projection space to show videos of Japanese designers. Where do they work? What tools do they use? How do they develop their ideas?

A display of the actual tools and sketches used in the videos.

The source of inspiration

The exhibition inside Gallery 2 focuses on the design process. Have a look at the design sketches, models, and objects used in the creative process of over twenty committee members. You will see that some designers use a lot of sketches, while others rather use words to write their ideas down. I was really amazed at how different the approaches of every designer were in their design process!

Gallery 2

Notes and models by Kengo Kuma, the famous architect who designed the station building of the new station Takanawa Gateway Station on the Yamanote Line.

This is also a famous design you will see in your everyday life in Tokyo. The “Help Mark” shows that a person needs assistance or consideration. The design is by art director Kazufumi Nagai.

I was so absorbed in studying the original drawings that I didn’t realize how much time had passed. If you like design, I am sure you will enjoy this exhibition too!

An exhibition of chairs designed by members of the Japan Design Committee. You may even sit on some of them.

Apart a few of the works, you may take pictures of the displays – something otherwise often prohibited at museums in Japan. By taking a picture of something you liked or find inspiring, maybe you’ll get a new design idea? If you are in need of some beautiful inspiration, be sure to check this special exhibition!

Don’t forget to check out the items sold at the shop on the first floor. The original items created exclusively for 21_21 DESIGN SIGHT are adorable!

‘Secret Source of Inspiration: Designers’ Hidden Sketches and Mockups’
Date: Until September 22, 2020


9-7-6 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo (Midtown Garden, Tokyo Midtown)
Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/8RpQbDRMfTV9THKj6
Nearest Station: Roppongi Station, Nogizaka Station

To prevent the spread of the new coronavirus infection, the opening hours are shortened and some programs at 21_21 DESIGN SIGHT require a reservation in advance. For further details, please refer to the official website.

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I was born and raised in Kiel/Germany. When I was 16 I came to Japan for the first time. I fell in love with this beautiful country, so I returned after my university graduation. Since then, I have been living in Tokyo - and I don't plan to change anything about that ;-) My hobbies are taking a stroll around the city, taking photos and drinking coffee.

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