Free to Create
The Tokyo Institute of Technology Design Society is a student circle devoted to making objects from the designs of the society's members. In order to give full reign to their creativity, the members shun competition between each other. The choice of what to design is also left open to each individual.
"I joined the group because I've enjoyed making things with my hands since I was small," says club leader Kohei Kobayashi, a third year student studying architecture. "When a club member introduced me to the group, he explained that I was free to make whatever I wanted and at my own pace. That really appealed."
Some of the more popular design categories among the members are electric light fittings, various graphic designs and T-shirts, according to the group's subleader, Ryuhei Suzuki, who is also in his third year studying architecture. "Accessories are especially popular with our female members, who make up around 40% of our club. We buy our own materials. But we have our own tools, and can also make use of the university's workshop, which has several kinds of cutting machines."
The society has around 20 members. They usually meet once a week for two to three hours to work on their projects, but meet more frequently as the Tokyo Institute of Technology annual festival approaches in autumn. "This is our main event of the year," says Kobayashi. "To properly display the objects we have been making, each year we create anew the Café and Gallery for the festival, and outfit it with our own furniture, decorations, everything, as well as design our own pamphlets to advertise it." He adds that as many as 300 attendees may visit the café over the two-day festival.
Another major event the group participates in is the Design Festival held annually at Tokyo Big Sight, a major exhibition site. "This is a large exhibition with more than 1,000 design objects on show," says Kobayashi. "But there are no competitions. We all take part for the sheer enjoyment of designing and displaying our creations."
On a smaller scale, the club also arranges short trips during the university holidays to places such as art galleries and pottery kilns where the members can enjoy the designs of other creative people.
Tokyo Institute of Technology Bulletin No. 24 (November, 2011)