Tokyo Designers Week 2011

Posted by Jim Ivanoff
November 22nd, 2011

Once again BC Wood took some of Canada’s top designers to Japan to display their latest pieces at Tokyo Designers Week. This year’s contingent was made up by Judson Beaumont, Brent Comber, Marie Khouri, Mario Sabljak, and Martha Sturdy.

For the first time the show organizers gave us the highly prized location at the front of the main tent. For this reason, we developed a new open concept that replaced the walls between members with branded pillars acting as the anchor for each of the displays. It was a risky move, but as a group we decided that we needed a bold display that showcased a unified Canadian presence.

The decision proved to be correct as our space was always full and we received endless complements that our pavilion was the best at the show. Adding an additional element of excitement were the long lines of people waiting for Judson Beaumont to sign his drawings. It was surprising that we didn’t receive any complaints as the lines often snaked around neighbouring pavilions!

Over the past few we have held several receptions in collaboration with the Canadian Embassy to tie in our presence at Tokyo Designers Week with other Canadian companies selling design oriented consumer products in Japan. With our new open pavilion we decided to hold this event within our own space. While offsite talks and receptions are a great way to assemble industry people, this year’s format brought our guests into personal contact with the great work we had on display at the show. While a bit tight, this proved to be a very positive move. As always, we are also greatly appreciative of the Embassy’s support of our program.

Tokyo Designers Week is actually a large event held across Tokyo at many venues. We have always exhibited at the main venue, but this year we also took part in the Bamboo Expo which is a new event targeting only designers/architects working on commercial projects. With only 1200 attendees over three days it was much less “exciting” than the main venue, but what it lacked in quantity was made up in quality of the attendees. Also, the slower pace meant that we could have longer conversations with the attendees. As this was the first Bamboo Expo we expect that it will grow into a bigger and more influential event in the years to come.

One of our success stories from last year’s show was that a high-profile Tokyo gallery took an interest in Martha Sturdy’s work. This interest grew into them inviting Martha to hold her own art exhibition in their gallery during this year’s Tokyo Designers Week. The exhibition was very well received and some of the galleries clients are now looking to work with Martha. The gallery mainly represents European artists, but the great reception that Martha’s work received has made them to want to look at other Canadian designers as well.

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