19 August 2008

My tips on Japan - Part 1

My friend Karen is going soon to Japan. Of course, as soon as I heard about it, I couldn't help but drawn her in multiple suggestions of what to do, what to see, where to go and what to buy. So in order to make it easier for her and other people interested I thought it might be better to write all my tips down.

My first post would be about fashion in Tokyo.
They are stores everywhere of course. But to make my life easier I usually go to one main place where there's the essence of Japanese prêt-à-porter. This place is also right in the middle of Omotesando and Harajuku districts, where all I could want fashion-wise is there anyway for me to grab. And I go there during the 1st days I'm in town, this way I can move on to other things and I know how much I've spent.

This dream place is called La Forêt.
This fashion store is to Tokyo what used to be Hyper Hyper to London before it closed down. But bigger, trendier and way cheaper. 5 floors of young designers for every taste. The more you go up in the store, the cheaper it is, although it's worth looking at the first floors as well as they often have bargains.
My favorite designers in this place are Chelsea (2F), the chain Olive des Olive (4F I think), Ehyphen gallery (3,5 or 4F), Par Avion (3,5F) and few others. Top Shop also has a small location there, but they only display the most experimental and edgy clothes of their collection.
The building is designed by the English collective Tomato.

The way I get there is I usually get off at the Omotesando subway station and then go up the main avenue, after a must-stop at Andersen bakery because they have these delicious plum pastries.

On my way there or back, I also stop at Kiddyland for Miyazaki movies merchandising (it takes most of the 2nd floor). How about a key-ring in the shape of Totoro? Or a tea towel, or a bento box, or chopsticks?

In this area, you should also of course stroll in Harajuku where you can get a peek at what are the latest trends among the teenagers crowd but where you can also come across great affordable designs, that are inspired by current collections from Comme des Garçons or Yohji Yamamoto but without the price tag obstacle.

But if you want a peek at those great Japanese brands anyway, along with Rem Koolhas' Prada store, it's also in the area.

Plan a day in this district if you're, like me, a fashion addict.

For more fashion, the second-hand way, especially for great shoes, go to Shibuya station. The stores are hidden in the back streets, just few meters off the subway station, behind the famous Times-Squarish crossing that is shown in all the movies featuring Tokyo (lots of people, sound and giant LED screens). You can't miss the stores if you walk towards Uniqlo.

--Joëlle

01 August 2008

2 weeks

Tomorrow, I'm leaving for London and then Sardinia. 2 weeks of vacations to empty my brain, and do nothing. The concept of vacations takes an all new meaning for the salarywoman. Up until now, except for brief periods in my life where I had been previously contract-tied to the business world, I was mixing vacations and work somehow. I wasn't really aware of that specific rhythm where you look forward to a break, as I was defining when and how I would manage my own time. Now it's imposed upon me, but I don't resent it really, at least for now. It's a different experience of pace, leisure and energy.
I have to come up with a concept for an interactive art piece in the next few weeks. I'm the artist-in-residency for the Siana festival next year, taking place in Evry, France. Of course, in the last months, my work as a designer and project director took up all my brain activity. But soon, I'll have to add to the mix artlife. For me, it's a way to get back into research mode. But after this time away from it, I'm completely out of the blue. I hear here and there sounds of what's going on, through my friends who are still in the loop but I feel like I have a lot to catch up.
The theme that I'm starting to approach for this new piece is unsurprisingly: work. And it might actually be a good lead. The festival conference has chosen to center around the subject of my DEA thesis: the imaginary of technologies. I developed in my study the subject within the context of 19th century industrial revolution, when the new technologies of that time were related to early mechanization and the transformation of the world through mass production as we know it. So it might make sense as my current life is deeply influenced at the moment by the rhythm imposed by the structure of a working day that I reflect upon this in my next project. As I empty my brain during this summer break, inspiration might come to take me further into that path or into something completely different.

--Joëlle.