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For this year's Christmas and New Year card DAAD Tokyo (German Academic Exchange Service) chose the picture above, showing one of my form studies of boat-shaped wooden takoyaki plates.

The design is a further development of works presented at the "Butterbrot und Bier" event earlier this year, and is based on a traditional Japanese pattern called asa-no-ha.

This popular pattern can be found on various kinds of textiles as well as in the interior design of shops and restaurants. Its name is said to derive from the resemblance of hemp leaves. And since the hemp plant is sturdy and grows upright, the pattern was preferably used for baby clothes, wishing for the child's growth. (Read more about the asa-no-ha pattern on my Kyoto blog.)

With this in mind, I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2011. May it be a year of growth and development, of juvenile energy to accomplish plans straight away, of marvelous discoveries and hilarious fun together with supportive and like-minded people.

Takoyaki, octopus dumplings, is a popular Japanese dish and usually served on boat-shaped plates made from thin wooden sheets -- as seen below.
To view more of my form studies and experiments with these plates, please click here.

And THANKS to Sabine Yokoyama and Kaori Shimada.

Update: Japanese Packaging Design on SNOW Magazine

Time for an update about my Japanese Packaging Design column on SNOW Magazine:

Discover the amazing bilingual Script on Ippodo Tea Packages or find out how "Every Wish Comes True with a Sachet of Bath Salts".

You can find all my SNOW Magazine columns here.

"Butterbrot und Bier" on takoyaki trays

On May 14th, as a part of the social networking event "Butterbrot und Bier" (buttered bread and beer) organized by DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service), I will have the opportunity to show my work "the way home from the station - tokyo 7/2005 - 03/2009" as well as form studies made from boat-shaped wooden takoyaki trays that will serve as centerpieces for the buffet tables.

Thanks to Sabine Yokoyama and Reiko Gamo.

Want to know what "Kansei" is?

For those capable of the German language, in the current issue of PAGE magazine (5.2010) I provide a look at the activities of the Kansei Information Laboratory of the University of Tsukuba. See the full article here or check the link list of the article.

Also covered is the "visual brainstorming" software alchemy by Karl D.D. Willis -- a master's graduate of the University of Tsukuba -- and Jacob Hina, which is a very inspirational tool and I highly recommend anybody who wants to boost creativity to give it a try.

And many thanks to Verena Dauerer, Prof. Toshimasa Yamanaka, Prof. Toshiaki Uchiyama and Karl D.D. Willis!

Japanese Packaging Design column on SNOW Magazine

I am very happy to be a contributor to the Tokyo-based SNOW Magazine, an online magazine providing you with news and guest columns covering the cultural landscape of Japan.

For my monthly column about Japanese Packaging Design, I will pick a talkative example — not necessarily one of the latest trends — and "interview" it about packaging design, consumption, and Japanese culture.

Check the two pieces that are up already: Xylish Chewing Gum’s Transformer Packaging and MUJI’s 100 kcal series.

And thanks to Jean Snow.

My first book: Kansei Research and Design

Based on several examples of research pursued by the Kansei Information Laboratory at the University of Tsukuba, the book explores the relation between Kansei research, design and our daily life by using both: simple and clear explanations as well as narrative passages and storytelling.

It aims to introduce the concept of Kansei to a broader international audience and to provide basic information about how to do research on Kansei, choose methods and devices, set up an experiment.

'Kansei' is a single Japanese word able to describe a complex mental process -- comprising sensory perception, knowledge, experience, emotion, and mood -- that results in a qualitative evaluation of our current situation. It is involved whenever we interact with other people, objects, interfaces, i. e. our environment. Thus, the necessity to research on Kansei is obvious, not to mention the chances for design arising from these insights.

Thanks to Prof. Toshimasa Yamanaka and Prof. Toshiaki Uchiyama for all the inspiring insights, thanks to Nanami Mizutani, Yusuke Nagamori and Shiho Nakamori for patiently explaining me their research and standing my odd Japanese , thanks to Pierre D. Levy for all the profound support, and thanks to Karl D. D. Willis for proofreading. Thank you very much!

The book will be available at AXIS Gallery (Roppongi, Tokyo) during the "kansei x tsukuba x design 2" exhibition, from March 27 - 30, 11:00 - 19:00, and has the ISBN 978-4-924843-60-8.