Tokyo Design Week

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Last week was Design Week in Tokyo, which is a pretty big deal for people like me who study graphic design!  I came to Tokyo because I think it is currently the best place to be for graphic design.  Designers are very innovative here and the art work feels so inspired.  So last week, there were many different events to attend.  On Wednesday night, I volunteered at one of these events known as PechaKucha Night.  PechaKucha Night is an event that is held on the last Wednesday of every month, but this event was held at a special location- a huge dome that accommodated many more people than usual.  Usually it is just held at a casual club.  Since this one was so huge, they needed volunteers, like me!

PechaKucha Night is held in hundreds of cities around the world, not just Tokyo.  It is basically a presentation that is well-known for it’s interesting format, often called 20×20.  Presenters create a slideshow of 20 slides, and they get 20 seconds to explain each slide however they want.  People that present include well-known graphic designers, typographers, entrepreneurs, chefs, humanitarians, architects, and other artists.  Basically, anybody can present if you have a cool concept.  The format makes the presentations nice and short, and if you get bored of one, you don’t have to worry since the topic will change quickly.  It makes for a really fun and creative atmosphere.  If you’re ever in Tokyo at the end of a month, I recommend going to one of these presentations!

Anyway, the special PechaKucha Night at Tokyo Designers week was a big hit.  The dome was filled with all sorts of people.  Some speakers are English natives, and others are Japanese, so different presentations are given in different languages.  It’s a good way to practice, and I appreciate the mixing of languages in the design field.  My job at the event was to pass out PechaKucha tissue packets at the door as people entered, which I didn’t particularly enjoy because I feel weird forcing things onto people.  In Tokyo, many people pass out tissue packets with a company flier or advertisement also tucked inside.  I think passing out tissues is better than just plain old fliers because at least it’s kind of useful.  But, further into the winter months, you have so many tissue packets piled up that you have no where to put them.  On the other hand, you NEVER have to buy tissues.  So yeah, that was my job.  It was actually kind of fun talking to people at the event, but a challenge as well since I often didn’t know what people were asking when they spoke in Japanese.  The other not so fun thing was that it was really cold, and there were many awkward moments where attendees caught me jumping around in the doorway.

At one point, I was set free from my post to wander around the event as I pleased.  It was held in a large park, with many different sections to go to.  There was one indoors, a giant place filled with different stalls and artists.  That’s where many university students were displaying their work.  Outside, there were also a lot of large train cars, which were my favorite.  Open on one end, they were like tiny galleries, and artists did whatever they wanted inside them.

At the end, I got a free T-Shirt and a book of PechaKucha Night stuff!  I think design week was a great place to volunteer.

The entrance of Tokyo Design Week

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