Design Festa: From Party Origins to Asia’s Biggest Art Event

Source: Gaijin Pot
Exhibitors at Design Festa Tokyo Japan Asia's Biggest Art Event 2

If you’re an artist or art lover in Tokyo there’s one major event on the annual calendar worth making plans around, and that’s Design Festa.

It’s impossible to classify Design Festa beyond explaining that it’s a triannual celebration of creative freedom, expression, and appreciation for art, design, and culture — in all its forms.

Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, it’s become the largest art festival in Asia. But each edition is more than just a display of artwork. The event invites 15,000 artists to its current home at Tokyo Big Sight in Odaiba to showcase their work to adoring and curious crowds from across the globe. As well as the event, Design Festa is also a gallery in Harajuku, where the party continues all year round.

To learn more about one of Asia’s most unique and biggest art institutions, we spoke to long-term Design Festa member and organizer Nigel van der Grijspaarde about its beginnings, legacy, influence, and philosophy.

The Beginning: From Bohemia to Big Sight

Once you become familiar with Design Festa’s origins, you’ll truly be able to appreciate the meticulously organized, impossibly smooth-running art festival machine it is today.

“The event launched in 1994,” explains Nigel “and I joined Volume 3 which was a considerable time ago, I’m guessing it was 1995 or 96.”

As one of the main players from the early days, he’s seen it grow into what is now the biggest art event of its kind in Asia and, as he guesses, potentially in the world.

Visitors at a Design Festa sharing where they came from.

The early days were born from an alignment of creatively conductive elements, spurred on by what Nigel calls “eccentric art lovers, basically.” Tokyo was in the midst of a bohemian scene, but it was …continue reading