by Thuy Hang
|Child's play: A visitor enjoys characters created by Takashi Tsunoda at The World of Interior Toys. — VNS Photos Thuy Hang
|Special delivery: Products by Takashi Tsunoda have won Good Design Awards.
HA NOI — Seeing the colourful paper robots on display at the Japan Foundation Centre for Cultural Exchange in Ha Noi, brothers Duc Nam and Duc Khang were instantly infatuated with the novel toys.
While Khang, the elder brother, was speechless with excitement, five-year-old younger Nam pointed at different items, repeating: "I like this, I like this, and this, and this."
The robots are part of a colourful design exhibition created by Japanese artist Takashi Tsunoda, entitled The World of Interior Toys.
A graduate of the Faculty of Design at the Kyoto University of Arts, Takashi first joined the game company KOTO, where he designed characters for computer games.
After he left KOTO in 2009, Takashi became an independent designer and established his own design office, Twelvetone. The name was inspired by the fact that in music, a mere 12 tones combine to create an almost infinite array of sounds. "It implies that there are a lot of complicated things in the world, but the essence of the things is very simple, just like the twelve tones in music," the 37-year-old designer said.
Following this philosophy, all Takashi's products are simple but cute. They have already won over thousands of Japanese people - both children and adults.
The display in Ha Noi includes an illustration of how he developed one of his most popular products, Piperoids, a paper robot craft kit.
To enjoy the toy, people do not need glue or tape, but only a pair of scissors. They cut, fold and connect a series of paper pipes to build their own robot with movable joints.
Takashi also invents background stories for each of his toys.
The unique toy, which can be used as an accent for home or office decor and even as a memo holder, received the Good Design Award from the Japan Industrial Design Promotion Organisation in 2007.
Visitors to the exhibition can also learn about Takashi's Play-deco, a combination of wooden "bone" and paper "skin" which won the Good Design Award in 2011.
Each Play-deco package includes a paper texture sheet and wooden bone sheet. Both are perforated and precut, so there are no tools required, including scissors.
Apart from these award-winning toys, the display also showcases Monster Cube, inspired by traditional Japanese handicrafts.
The toys are complemented by a charming all-white venue designed by freelance doll artist Tran Thu Hang.
Hang, a pioneer of "art doll" work in Viet Nam, chose a minimalist style and basic white colour in order to best highlight the colourful objects.
Speaking at the exhibition's opening ceremony, Kazumi Inami, director of the Japan Foundation Centre for Cultural Exchange in Viet Nam, said: "I believe that the introduction of a top designer like Twelvetone will not only cause children to delight in the visuals, but also inspire design enthusiasts to unleash their creative potential."
The exhibition has indeed impressed adult visitors as well as children.
Business student Nguyen Duc Truong Giang, who started to craft paper toys four years ago, said Piperoid gave him some ideas for new toys.
Dinh Ngoc Han, a mother of two children, listed the numerous advantages of the toys on display.
"These toys are not simply for entertainment, but have an educational value, as each character has a background story. Besides, the bright colour of the toys is relaxing.
"I sometimes hesitate to purchase toys for my children because I'm worried that my boys will make a mess. However, these toys are great because they double as home decor objects," she said.
The unique exhibition will be open to the public at 27 Quang Trung Street until September 9. — VNS