Taking a stand

Inspired by the glittering MAPIC Awards evening, I’ve decided to create my own little prize-giving ceremony right here on the blog. Of course, the winners receive nothing more than the satisfaction of knowing they caught my eye, but I’m sure they’ll appreciate it just as much as a gold statuette or a fat cheque… 

1st prize: Cool Japan

In March this year, Machizukuri picked up a MIPIM award in the sustainable urban development category. Hours later, Japan was rocked by a tsunami that wrought unimaginable devastation. Now, eight months later, the country is slowly rebuilding and finding its feet again. Out of the wreckage of the natural disaster, Japan is emerging stronger and wiser. I spoke to Watanabe Mitsuko of the Sustainable Urban Redevelopment Project Team about the ideas behind the stand.

The stand represents a project, supported by the Japanese government, to rebuild and redefine new ways of life. It is built on a new set of values that take into account the hard-earned knowledge that our lives are always entwined with the natural world.
On stand 14.26, a presentation of art, tableware, furnishings and sushi preparation celebrates traditional Japanese culture from the areas worst hit by the tsunami. The stand is simple and minimalist – one of the least elaborate at MAPIC this year – but the beauty of the concept and the resilience and courage of the Japanese people that the whole project demonstrates make it a touching and memorable one.

2nd prize: Frey

Frey gets my vote for being as close to a gentlemen’s club as I’ll ever get. I loved the stripy wallpaper, deep leather armchairs and the stacks of books under the bar counter. The ornate gilt frames on the walls displayed screens showing the company’s projects – the only nod to the 21st century on a booth that had something of the 1930s about it.

3rd prize: Amorino

Now, before anyone rolls their eyes, I’d just like to say that this choice is nothing to do with ice cream. Well, almost nothing to do with ice cream. Amorino are here presenting an innovative ice cream van concept, tailored for indoor locations such as shopping centres. Those who grew up in Britain are used to the Sunday ice cream van driving through the streets playing Greensleeves on a hurdy-gurdy, but the continent is unfamiliar with the notion of ice cream out of a vehicle. Amorino’s vans will be stationary, but their products will be slightly more suited to my grown-up taste buds than a Milk Maid ice lolly. Speaking of which, I managed to choke back a pot of their caramelo yesterday. Today might have to include a return visit.

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