Tokyo's Amazing Art in the Wild: Design Festa Vol. 42
Do you like art that is a little crazy and a bit out of control? Twice a year young artists, designers, and musicians head out to Tokyo Big Sight. In this massive venue, creative types have a chance to play, display and sometimes even sell some of their work. Welcome to Design Festa Vol. 42!
[caption id="attachment_2151" align="alignnone" width="1000"] Welcome to Design Festa 42 by Lauren Shannon[/caption]
According to event organizers,
Design Festa is a celebration of the arts at which anyone regardless of age, nationality, talents or language can exhibit. Serving as a platform for over 12,000 artists, designers, musicians, actors and more twice a year since its inception in 1994, Design Festa welcomes professionals and amateurs alike. The single largest art festival in Asia, the combination of performances, international cuisine, artistic expression, enrichment, diversity and passion found at Design Festa is like that of no where else on earth.
This indoor circus of art (and the tiniest bit of insanity) happens every May and November and truly is a "not-to-be-missed" experience.
[caption id="attachment_1763" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Costumed Performance Artist in Original Creation – from Flickr cc terrykimura[/caption]
On November 21st, the doors will open on the 42nd iteration of this event. I have been to quite a few of the past 41 versions. Describing Design Festa to someone going for the first time is not easy. Immerse yourself in an art show and people-watching experience with a lot of "everything" mixed in a swirl of rainbow colors, loud music, random weirdness and chaos.
[caption id="attachment_1758" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Colorful Art at Design Festa – from Flickr cc Gregg Tavares[/caption]
Held in the vast halls and on the outdoor terrace of Tokyo's largest exhibition space, this year over 1,200 artists will participate in booths or on stage. Both young and more established creators apply months in advance and pay a small fee (10,000-25,000 yen) to participate. Thousands of people attend the event each year so displaying your creative work here is an excellent opportunity to build a following. In contrast, gallery space in Tokyo can often cost 200,000 Yen ($1,500) or more for even a short art show.
[caption id="attachment_1760" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Mural at Design Festa – from Flickr cc HiroTjp[/caption]
Almost anything goes at Design Festa. Crafters, fashion designers, and abstract artists line up in rows after rows of small, square booths. Some build elaborate scenes, shelving and murals to display their work. Others just lay out their latest creations on sheets on the floor and sit amongst their treasures.
[caption id="attachment_1762" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Cat Masks on Display – from Flickr cc Satoka F.[/caption]
In addition to the art space, a music stage and food truck area are outside the main hall. Bands sign up in advance for a chance to play for friends, fans, and passers-by. The line-up is not limited to any specific type of music and you may hear violins, pop, punk, rock and roll and experimental music one after another.
[caption id="attachment_1764" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Main Stage Music Performance – from Flickr cc "terrykimura"[/caption]
Random performance artists also wander through the crowds in elaborate, costume creations. Fashion shows, human-robots, interactive workshops, and surprises are everywhere you look. I can usually manage about 5 hours at the event before my brain is in full on art-overload. Luckily, you can take a break and relax. Vendors inside the hall and food trucks near the main stage, provide snacks and a welcome respite.
[caption id="attachment_1759" align="aligncenter" width="683"] Artist and Art at Design Festa – from Flickr cc Hélène Veilleux[/caption]
My advice is simple. Wear good walking shoes and bring an open mind to Design Festa Vol. 42 for an unforgettable art experience.
I recommend that you pre-purchase event passes for one or both days. Tickets are available at the door for a slightly higher price, but lines can be long. If you have time prior to the event, you can pick up special "original design tickets" at the Design Festa Office and Gallery in Harajuku.
Event tickets are also available for purchase from online retailers, convenience stores and additional locations listed on the official homepage.