a-small-lab by Chris Berthelsen. Based in Tokyo & Mairangi Bay
new work, calls for collaboration & work, bits and pieces of note Sign Up Here
Researching, (non)Designing, Doing
I try to combine research into creative climates for cities, organizations, humans and tools with practice in (non)design, making, publishing, and consulting.
This is a base from which to make and ‘do stuff' with respected peers. This means a mix of independent projects and loose/tight collaborations (paid and not-for-pay) with individuals, think tanks, organizations, educational institutions, businesses and local government in Japan and internationally.
Topics include: Frugal DIY
and Small Spaces of Anarchy
, Non-Intentional Landscapes
and Informal Green Space
, Tokyo Local Fruit
and Neighbourhood Small Business, Learning from Real and Mythical Urban Animals
, Sensual Aspects of an Aging Tokyo
, Experiments in Alternative Education
, the City at Child Scale
, Hand-Made Play
, and the Work Environment for Creativity
Doing independent and collaborative stuff at a-small-lab
also: with Adaptable Futures (Tokyo/UK)
some of the time.
and with Akishima Kindergarten (Tokyo)
some of the time.
formerly: with Design Tshirts Store graniph (Japan)
a lot of the time, for 4+ years.
2007-2008: Research Student
Graduate School of Commerce and Management (Japanese Ministry of
Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Scholarship Recipient) (Tokyo,
2005-2006: Masters Degree in International Business
at the University
(Auckland, New Zealand)
1997-2000: BA (Art History)
at the University
(Auckland, New Zealand)
1997-2000: BCom (Economics)
at the University
(Auckland, New Zealand)
||UPDATE:The S.C.R.O.T.U.M. intervention "Making Friends" has been accepted to the Artifacts section of EPIC 2013 London - "EPIC is the premier international gathering on the current and future practice of ethnography in the business world."
Our artifact is a storyboard that documents a research interaction and illustrates human evolution in approaching the unexpected in shared public spaces.
Making Friends was a true, inter-species encounter in the Tokyo Metro. Click to enlarge image.
**Tokyo, a Fruitful City (Farming the City book contribution)
Contribution to the Farming the City book, produced and edited by CITIES.
"..[A] great piece of analysis with a wonderful take on the role and potential of fruit in the urban metabolism" say the editors.
> Photos and details HERE
**A nice article about my learning projects
> In Japanese, on Japan's fantastic social innovation and design magazine greenz.jp: HERE
**Tokyo Fruit Layers (English Version)
||"Understanding fruit layers can help make urban life more social, resilient and delicious" - A short text we prepared for the LIMNO Collabora on stratification, nature, and landscapes.
Download the PDF (15MB)HERE
Self funded renovation, creation and local commerce project in the Tokyo mountains - a space for creation, artist/researcher in residence, fine and frugal food and lots more stuff I haven't thought of yet.... details HERE
, and/or get in touch if you'd like to know more and/or have ideas.
**Research and (non)Design in Kindergartens**
I've started small role as researcher and (non)designer at a local alternative kindergarten in suburban Tokyo.
Here, I (1) investigate and document how the children use and perceive their learning environments and (2) convey and work with findings to develop and expand a learning cycle with parents and teachers........ finding questions, working on how to go about answering them & how to generate more of them..... Also looking at what role new and old, high and low technologies might play.
> More details (in Japanese) HERE and a bilingual log HERE.
**Japan Urban Image Resources**
Tokyo Street Art Image Resource: 2000 images of street art from Tokyo (Shinjuku and Shibuya) for you to use in any way you like.
> Details and purchase HERE
Nagoya Image Resource: A resource of 735 images of decrepit and decaying Nagoya City, Japan for you to use in any way you like.
> Details and purchase HERE
**top ten posts for 2012 on This Big City**
Very nice that my post Seven Ideas From Tokyo for Child-Friendly Spaces was one of the top ten posts of 2012 on This Big City - an award winning social media organisation sharing ideas and encouraging discussion about sustainable cities.
> The post is based on my small study of Tokyo at child scale.
**pre-order two new pamphlets**
I've almost finished two new richly illustrated texts about Tokyo
> by Hand: An Illustrated Text on Tokyo's Non-Intentional Landscape - update log here and pre-order information HERE
> SexuAiling Tokyo: Investigating the Sensual Aspects of an Aging Mega-Region - update log here, research log HERE and pre-order information HERE
**with Adaptable Futures**
I'm excited and honoured to start a new collaborative working relationship with the Adaptable Futures group at Loughborough University.
> Details and projects HERE
**Tokyo Tanuki: Learning from Mythical and Real Urban Animals**
"Welcoming real and mythical urban animals expands ideas of adaptability past spatial, structural and service strategies that focus on the physical artefact, showing a way for considering how microspaces, pleasures, pranks and human/non-human relationships can inform thinking about urban environments design."
> Read the full article on This Big City
> "Tokyo Tanuki: Apprendre par l’observation des animaux mythiques urbains" en francais
> "El Tanuki de Tokio: aprendiendo de un animal urbano, un mito y una realidad." en Espagnol
**Updates to Studio.C.R.O.T.U.M.**
||Urban experiments for the Studio for Creative Revitalization Of Tanuki Urban Manifestations (S.C.R.O.T.U.M.)
> Check Tokyo Green Space for recent inter-species interventions HERE
> Project Page = Studio.C.R.O.T.U.M.
**Contribution to Children Youth and Environments Image Collection. University of Colorado CYE Center.**
I'm honoured and delighted to contribute a selection of my hand-made play and child-scale city images to the Children Youth and Environments Image Collection at the University of Colorado CYE Center.
> View the collection HERE
**Tokyo Local Fruit on greenz.jp**
> In-depth interview/article covering our Tokyo Local Fruits Project (あんなところにフルーツが！果物を通じて”おいしい街”TOKYOを再発見する「東京ローカルフルーツ」 [マイプロSHOWCASE]) - on greenz.jp (in JP)
> Jared Braiterman presented our Tokyo Local Fruits project at July's green drinks Tokyo - HERE (in JP)
**Studio for Creative Revitalization Of Tanuki Urban Manifestations (S.C.R.O.T.U.M.)**
||The Studio for Creative Revitalization Of Tanuki Urban Manifestations works with the Tanuki - a member of the canine family that resembles a raccoon (commonly known as raccoon dog in English). In addition to being a real animal that resides in the nooks and crannies of Tokyo alleyways and shrines it is also a pleasure-seeking and massively testicled mythical figure central to Japanese folklore and popular culture.
A collaboration with Jared Braiterman and Jess Mantell.
Work, sketches and resources are on the Studio.C.R.O.T.U.M. Page
**Tokyo Fruit Layers | 東京フルーツ・レイヤー**
||The Japanese language version of a text we prepared for the LIMNO Collabora on stratification, nature, and landscapes. To be published soon.
**Edible Subscapes and Sensual Substitutes**
||A small story and images about fruit in Tokyo.
Delectable codescapes; DRM-infused code candies;
Industrial juices and code snippets; A city of dog turds and plastic bags.....
Rich, dark soils in rotting tatami mats....
Teletechnologies of generalised taste VS Resilient and distributed asynchronous economies of mutual reciprocity.
Read it at Tokyo DIY Gardening.org
**Playtime in Africa: Site and global supporters**
I'm honoured and delighted to start to play a small part in this project that aims to "turn two acres of land in the Dzorwulu neighborhood into a groundbreaking natural playspace".
> Frugal Collaboration towards Public Space for Children - small post on Polis [HERE]
> Global supporters map [HERE]
> Playtime in Africa WEBSITE
**Tokyo Local Food Presentation @ Pechakucha Tokyo**
Presenting parts of our Tokyo Local Fruit project.
Our presentation for Pechakucha Global Cities Week (Tokyo) on Tokyo Local food is now up on the Pechakucha site
VIEW the presentation slides on SLIDESHARE
VIEW the Ustream of the presentation [HERE] (starts about 4:40).
We've also completed a short text, diagrams, images titled "Fruit Layers of Tokyo" for LIMNO's Collabora on stratification, nature, landscapes. To be published soon.
**Seven Ideas from Tokyo for Child Friendly Spaces**
A short article summarising City at Child Scale project on ThisBigCity.net - HERE
And in Chinese: 孩童空間的七種構想
Noted in Megan Rosker's article on play for Huffington Post [HERE]
Quoted in The Atlantic Cities article on walkability, food deserts and obesity [HERE]
Featured on Kaboom.org (a national nonprofit dedicated to saving play for America's children)
**Study on the City at Child Scale**
||"......These safe and slow pathways are perfect for tiny feet and their larger commute-weary companions. Dense greens and colourful scented collages reside at the height and scale of little eyes and noses. Irrepressible hands thrive on the mixture of gravel, sand, grass, rocks, sticks and fallen fruit that compose Tokyo carpets. In summer developing ears drink in crickets, cicadas and neighbourhood rustlings...."
A small study on the child's perception of the street.
This document traces the everyday treasures of a rainy day walk to the local sento in suburban Tokyo. It is part of a broader and slightly wonky research and practice agenda on the hand made, everyday creativity, play, and usable environments.
Extracts, Full Download, etc [HERE]
**Patterns of Play Research**
Rough categorization working draft of gender/age/materials/concepts for Patterns of Play research. 108 examples of self-initiated, non-commercial play: View Data Sheet.
**Dots and Nets game with MAMMOTH**
||Produced in collaboration with Mammoth School and Knee High Media for the fourth issue of the Mammoth School free paper, "Dots and Nets" builds on the traditional dots and squares game to introduce creatures of the sea. Illustrated by Mika Inohara.
Details and video [HERE]
**Hand Made Play**
||Notes from a collaborative + open research project investigating, enjoying, and learning from the self-initiated and non-commercial play of children in Tokyo.
**Tokyo Local Fruit Study**
||A public project looking at non-commercial fruit in Tokyo private gardens and public spaces. We hope to learn about what is being grown, where, and how it is being enjoyed and shared - the simple, everyday tastes, stories and memories of fruit in Tokyo.
> A collaboration with Jared Braiterman and Jess Mantell.
> We presented this project at the Pechakucha Global Cities Week (Tokyo) on Feb 23 [HERE]
- and you can view the UStream [HERE]
> Parts of this project will be published in ALL YOU CAN EAT! - a book about using food as a tool for urban development - [HERE] (when they find a publisher).
View the PROJECT PAGE
**Framework for Neighbourhood Creative Climate**
||New post on This Big City [HERE]
**Building for Plants and Play**
||Turning an unusable and unfriendly suburban jungle/rubbish dump into a usable space for children, plants and parents.
> View progress [on Flickr]
**Workshops for Kids**
||> HAPPY DUTCH WORKSHOP x WA WA PROJECT: Dutch house making workshop / Dutch tulips & coloring journal in collaboration with Tanemaki Project [HERE].
> TULIP JOURNAL in collaboration with Tanemaki Project [HERE].
Both of these in collaboration with the great Hiyoko Imai and Jared Braiterman
Piece on the Olympus cover-up featuring my ex-pat management research.
**Human(e) Aspects of Tokyo: Creative climate, small places of anarchy, stigmergy.**
**Recent Articles (Nov)**
The Non-Intentional Landscape of Tokyo - a collage/sketch text on This Big City
Fixes study featured on Archinect
**Patterns of Japanese Creativity**
||This ongoing study reviews the Japanese business and management literature to uncover the principles, strategies and circumstances at the heart of the creative successes of Japanese companies.
NEW: Page Samples and Exercises from forthcoming book [LINK]
Project Resource[LINK to Project Resource]
**Tokyo Colour-In Preview and Activities**
||Tokyo colour-in. The colouring-in book of Tokyo street art (180p)
A colouring-in book of Tokyo street art created to introduce little hands and minds to the fine-grained hand made aspect of human(e) creativity on the street.
Take a look at the preview [HERE]
and check the slowly growing set of activities for use with the book [HERE]
**Amidakuji - Storytelling Game**
||Produced in collaboration with Mammoth School and Knee High Media for the third issue of the Mammoth School free paper, "Amidakuji" builds on a traditional Japanese game for fun and weird storytelling. Illustrated by the fantastic Hiyoko Imai.
Downloads and video [HERE]
Small Places of Anarchy in the City on This Big City
無政府的小處 | This Big City 城事
Featured on Planetizen
Collaborative Mental Mapping on Engaging Cities
Photo-Realistic Model of Tokyo on Polis
Featured on Archinect
Featured on Green Japan - Tokyo’s Creative Greenness Revealed
**Part of Mega-Cities: Design Anthropology and Urban Landscapes, a Tokyo University Course**
**Hand Made Tokyo Book Preview & Download**
||Lots of preview images of the Hand Made Tokyo document of the 3331 Arts CYD Tokyo mapping workshop we did last summer.
A5, 126 pages
Take a look at the preview [HERE]
**FIXing the Neighbourhood: Investigations in Suburban Tokyo / Sketching for Usable Cities**
**Managing For Creativity in Japan**
View the resource page [Managing for Creativity in Japan]
Risk and Creative Climate in Japan: An annotated framework [PDF]
Risk and Creative Climate in Japan: An interview collage [PDF]
Being a Successful Manager in Japan: An annotated framework [PDF]
**CITIES Magazine: Tokyo Focus**
I'm delighted that Cities Magazine is devoting a 'Tokyo Focus' week to projects from a-small-lab.
"CITIES (with offices in Amsterdam and Stockholm) explores local practice in a global context. It goes beyond academic vocabulary such as industrial renewal, gentrification and densification, encouraging urban explorers to tell their own stories and to share their perspectives and experiences of life in the city."
Visit their site [HERE]
**Keep Your City Delicious!**
Keep your city beautiful? How about keeping it delicious for a change!
Short examples from 'Keep your city delicious' (街をおいしく！）activities in Tokyo.
View the slideshow: [ON SLIDESHARE]
**A Board Game about City Accessibility**
||Produced in collaboration with Mammoth School and Knee High Media for the second issue of the Mammoth School free paper, "Look-A-Round" is a board game which encourages learning about city accessibility.
View video, photos, and download [HERE]
**Structures and Textures of Nagoya (2003-4)**
||A resource, a toolkit, of rare images of the structures and textures of the gradually decaying city of Nagoya, Japan (735 images)
This image resource is available for purchase for commercial (no use restrictions)
and non-commerical use - Click here for more details.
||The kokonohanashi (「ここの話」 lit. 'talking about here') project works locally with a combination of analogue (notebooks, pens, laminated A4 posters, wire, legwork) and open low-tech digital tools (QR codes, stripped down Wordpress, email, smart-and-not-so-smart-phones) to investigate the development of a platform for discussion about, and positive action in, city space by the people who most matter - those who experience and use the place in their everyday lives.
View the project page: [Kokonohanashi Project]
Download the project introduction: [PDF file, 5.5mb]
Download a brief project report after the first iteration: [PDF file, 3mb]
Read a nice write up of the project at Tokyo Green Space [HERE]
**Small Report: 好きな公園 (Parks I like)**
A small report on aspects of loved neighbourhood parks with the help of a group of neighbourhood kids.
**City Blocks: An as yet unannounced collaborative public art/education project with a Tokyo-based publisher**
“Become familiar & comfortable with your environment, share and discuss, develop the facility to play with, rearrange, reimagine, create spaces and places. Explore the neighbourhoods of Japan through the eyes of other children, discover what they care
for and have fun with."
**FIXES: The non-intentional design of Tokyo - a card game**
Based on the images and research of the FIXES: Non-Intentional Design (NID) Research in Tokyo project, this card game/resource aims to increase awareness of NID thinking and practice and to act as an entry point to a deeper experience of Tokyo as a lived city.
**Berlin Design Resource**
||A photo resource and book was made for a major Japanese clothing design/retail company (800+ photos, book, context/translation).
Take a look at a couple of photos here [LINK]
**A long collage/essay on Tokyo**
Three out of seven nights, From 11pm-2am.
Starting to post rough collage notes/writing on the hand made city and Tokyo. Frequently updated.
Photo Credit: Lin