The Japanese have always been fastidious when it comes to design. Whether it’s a traditional craft passed on from one generation of artisans to the next, a hyper-efficient technological innovation, or a quirky item that seems little more than a novelty, Japanese products are known for its attention to detail and its user friendliness.
The Japan Foundation’s “Japanese Design Today/100,” currently on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila, presents 100 products that embody the country’s design philosophy. One of its adjunct programs on designing for disaster reiterated the importance of context and user experience in product design.
With that in mind, we explored the exhibit for tools that would avert real and fictional crises.
8. Junior High death match (2/100, Sori Yanagi stainless saucepan)
In the film adaptation of Battle Royale, protagonist Shuya Nanahara began the games armed only with a pot lid and somehow managed to survive. An entire saucepan gives you better protection: use the pan as a club and the lid as a shield. This particular saucepan was included in the exhibit as an example of user-friendly design: turning the lid 180 degrees releases steam from the pan.
7. Soy sauce spillage (8/100, Kikkoman Soy Sauce dispenser 150 ml)
The Japanese take soy sauce so seriously, there are not one, but two, exhibit items dedicated to the condiment. The Kikkoman dispenser was the first mass produced container that allowed customers to pour directly from the bottle without over spilling: a victory for fastidious eaters who prefer food lightly seasoned and tablecloths pristine.
6. Pre-payday hunger (38/100, Cupmen 1 Hold on)
Counting down to payday often feels like a countdown to proper sustenance. If there’s anything worse than eating cup noodles, it’s eating undercooked cup noodles. Cupmen holds down the foil flap and changes color to indicate when the noodles are ready-to-eat. It’s in the shape of a man holding on for dear life because corporate slaves have to be reminded of this everyday.
5. Rainy days and Mondays (50/100 Water-Repellent Furoshiki “NAGARE”)
The traditional furoshiki is used to wrap presents, bento boxes, or anything else that needs to be lugged around. Typical cloth ones won’t offer any protection from sudden thunderstorms, but the “NAGARE” is so waterproof it can be used as a makeshift bucket to catch 10-liters worth of ceiling drip!