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Posts Tagged ‘daniel rosenblum’

This wonderful video is based on a retreat we held in the Fall of 2007 titled Invigorating Communities, Designing for Inclusion. The video was created by BAYCAT Studio, where Innovators Network member Villy Wang serves as the President and CEO. Enjoy!

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Back in vogue?

Back in vogue?

Some days before leaving for Tokyo, I fretted about the state of the global economy, and Japan’s economy in particular.

In my January 30 post, GDP Blues, I mentioned David Resler, Managing Director & Chief Economist at Nomura Securities International, Inc., predicting that Japan’s 4th quarter GDP for 2008 could drop 9 pct or more.

That number, announced today, shows GDP contracted at an annual rate of 12.7 pct, Japan’s worst quarterly drop since its economy shrank at an annual pace of 13.1 pct in the first three months of 1974.

Exports are key, of course, but judging by what I’ve seen of consumer demand (or the lack thereof) in Tokyo, the slump is likely to continue for some time.

Even in osharen na Azabu Juban, 100 yen stores are very much back in vogue.

(Daniel Rosenblum)

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…when I walked up to Roppongi Crossing the other day and a strange sensation came over me.

Something was missing.

Almond Cafe.  

It was gone, replaced by a shuttered metal gate.

Sure enough, after 44 years in the same location, Almond Cafe,  the time-honored redoubt of rendezvous second only to Hachiko in Shibuya,  has moved. 

The old building is to be demolished and a new one built in its place.

The Good Old Days

The Good Old Days

While one of the Showa Era’s iconic social networking sites is down for the count, it didn’t seem to matter much to the customary crowd gathered in its usual spot in front of where Almond had been. 

Maybe they were too busy texting on cell phones to notice.

(Daniel Rosenblum)

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Yugo Nakamura – A Wizard, a True Star

It’s the first day of our exploration of design and sustainability in Tokyo with Max Schorr and Casey Caplowe of GOOD Magazine and Valerie Casey of IDEO.

Wending our way through Shibuya, we arrive at tha ltd, the studio of maverick web designer Yugo Nakamura. You enter through the ground floor of a non-descript apartment building to an open foyer that doubles as a meeting space.

Nakamura, dressed casually in jeans and blue sweater, is a tall man with a shock of black hair peppered with gray. Using a laptop and projector he shares some of his latest work involving interactive Internet animation, including a series of ads for Uniqlo.

Another of Nakamura’s projects is an image bookmarking website, designed as a frame. “I love making images and looking at images I love,” Nakamura says. .

“It’s interesting because it’s the first generation of digital interactive art design on the web,” says Schorr.

Asked about his approach to work, Nakamura says, “I’m interested in methodology. “We work like craftsmen. Our clients have their ideas. We want to make our products as original and fun as possible.”

Asked about collaborating with his American visitors somewhere down the road, Nakamura’s enthusiastic.

He notes that getting people to do good often starts on a small scale, from mundane social networking like dating and friend finding.

“Maybe we can come up with a mechanism for mobilizing a small part of people who that will enable the collections of goodness among people through communication,” he says.

(Daniel Rosenblum)

Yugo Nakamura at his office

Yugo Nakamura at his office

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Newark Airport, morning, Feb.3, 2009

I’m waiting for my flight to Tokyo, thinking about the three days of intensive meetings Japan Society‘s Innovators Network will be hosting on the theme of sustainability and cutting edge design.

GOOD Magazine Co-Founders Casey Caplowe and Max Schorr, and Valerie Casey, Leader, Digital Design Experience of IDEO arrive in Tokyo on Thursday.

Among those they’ll meet with are Yugo Nakamura, a web designer, who is considered one of the most interesting talents in today’s digital design field; Satoshi Yasui, Head of Design Planning at Muji; and Yoshiharu Tsukamoto, architect and founder of Atelier Bow-Wow, a leader of a new generation of Tokyo architects that promote a site- and use-specific approaches to design.

On February 8, Max, Casey and Valery will have a chance to share their thoughts on design and sustainability with a wider group at a public symposium, cohosted by JIDPO (Japan Industrial Design Promotion Organization), called “Design + Community + Social Impact“.

I’ll be blogging live about the symposium, which starts at 2 p.m. Tokyo time.

The symposium also includes a dialogue between the Americans and Katsufumi Nagai, art director at Hakuhodo Design, Soichi Ueda, producer at Spaceport, on “The Designer’s Mission Today.’

Should be a lot of fun!

(Daniel Rosenblum)

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Katsuji speaking at the UN today.

Katsuji Imata, Deputy Secretary of CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, was in town speaking at the UNDP today.

CIVICUS has created the Civil Society Index (CSI) project, a “participatory needs assessment and action planning tool” designed to strengthen civil society worldwide.

According to Katsuji, the top three challenges facing civil society today are:

1. Accountability and transparency

2. Infrastructure and organization

3. Maintaining engagement

The project’s goal is to create a learning network to improve the state of civil society around the globe, he said.

“There are a broad range of actors in civil society, not just NGOs,” Katsuji explained.

That group of actors can sometimes include “uncivil elements”.

CSI is designed to measure the following dimensions of civil society:

1. Civil Engagement – the extent to which individuals engage in social and policy related initiatives.

2. Level of Organization – the level of institutionalization that characterizes civil society.

3. Practice of Values – the extent to which civil society practices core values.

4. Perceived impact – the extend civil society impacts the social and policy arena.

5. External Environment – the four above elements analysed in the context of the socio-economic, political and cultural variables within which the civil society operates.

Katsuji, a member of the U.S.-Japan Innovators Network, flies back to Tokyo on Wednesday, in time to join the Innovators Network reunion on February 6. (Daniel Rosenblum)

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Trouble ahead, trouble behind?

Trouble ahead, trouble behind?

Watching Wall Street implode from Japan last September, it was easy to hope that after a couple of bailouts life would quickly return to normal.  

Clearly, that’s not the case.  As I prepare to return to Tokyo next week, I wonder how the people and the city are holding up under the strain of a seemingly intractable global recession.

At Japan Society last night we hosted a program with Nomura Holding America and the Women’s’ Bond Club of New York on the impact of the Obama administration on Asian economies, particularly Japan.

During the discussion, it became clear the outlooks for both the U.S. and Japanese economies were none-too sanguine. 

Panelist David Resler, Managing Director & Chief Economist at Nomura  Securities International, Inc., correctly predicted that U.S. GDP numbers for the fourth quarter coming out today would show a strong contraction. 

That number, released this morning, showed the economy shrinking 3.8 pct, the biggest drop in 27 years.  

And what of Japan’s fourth quarter GDP? 

Resler suggested a drop of 9 pct or more.  Indeed, the decline of  9.6 pct in Japan’s December preliminary industrial production, announced on Friday, doesn’t bode well.

The darkest hour before the dawn?

(Daniel Rosenblum)

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