Design Festa #22 - Tokyo

Design Festa #22 - Tokyo
Exclusive coverage, including photos, of Design Festa #22 in Tokyo Japan.
Updated: 02-12-2006

Design Festa Volume 22 took over Tokyo Big Sight on Saturday and Sunday, November 26 & 27 2005 – and was there! We weren't alone – 6,000 exhibitors and 51,000 attendees enjoyed the two-day, four-hall celebration of independent art and design.

The Design Festa Gallery – the namesake and creator of this huge event – is a hard-to-find exhibition space in the Harajuku area of Tokyo, Japan. It currently houses 12 spaces for artists – professional and non-professional - to exhibit. Artists can use the space however they wish.

The Design Festa events are an extension of the gallery's mission as an "open forum for any artist to express themselves!" The Design Festa creators call the event a "freestyle International Art Event", encompassing everything from painting to sculpture to clothing design to graffiti to body paint.

The first Design Festa event took place in Harumi at the International Trade Center in September 1994, with 2,500 exhibitors and 10,000 visitors. Over the past 11 years, the Festa has grown steadily – first occupying a single hall of Tokyo Big Sight, then two halls, and this year 4 full halls plus the atrium section and part of the outdoor area. Whereas the Gallery can only hold up to 12 artists at a time, the biyearly Festa events can showcase the work of thousands of artists – and bring in tens of thousands of potential fans.

Anyone – from the guy who paints on his bedroom walls to the professional graphic designer - can reserve a booth by paying a fee (from ¥18,900 – about USD$170). In that booth, you can display anything you wish to share.

This time around, there were plenty of goodies of interest to Horror fans - and brought back Design Festa pictures so you can see for yourself. At least three booths featured the work of independent movie special effects artists. They gave out free demos to attendees. If you had a few minutes to spare, you could walk away decorated with oozing sores or third eyeballs.

There were horror-themed vinyl dolls of all sizes and shapes, as well as metal sculptures reminiscent of Giger or 'Hellraiser'. Robots and monsters inhabited paintings and adorned clothing. One booth featured hand-crocheted monsters. Eerie Gothic dolls lay amid body parts, and plastic fetuses floated in cups. Many jewelry artists attended, with a heavy emphasis in silver. Skulls, werewolves, and even Jason masks adorned rings, necklaces, and bracelets.

The lights were dimmed in one of the halls. A DJ played to an electric light show while artists displayed goodies best enjoyed in the dark: lamps made of twisted metal, handmade candles, and glowing LCD coils wrapped around writhing models. Tim Burton-esque night-glow cemetery scenes covered one booth. In the center, huge sculptures of a monsters in battle were lit from beneath and cast scary shadows.

In addition to the booths, a schedule of planned live events took place. Fashion shows featured pretty women and men in wild fashions and even in body paint. Live bands played, and performance artists entertained passersby with planned routines or live painting demonstrations. The food court had an international flavor, featuring Russian, Mexican, Indian and Thai food as well as Japanese.

Volume 23 is already planned to take place May 20-21, 2006 at Tokyo Big Sight. If you're an artist interested in getting involved, you check out the official Design Festa website.

Pictures: Design Festa #22 Photo Gallery

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