Hipster art gallery come cafe14 October, 2011 by Chad
Despite having been to Harajuku as many times by now, the streets still hide many interesting sights to be discovered with each repeated visit. One of the buildings here that caught our more recent attention was this quirky artsy type place along the back alleys of Harajuku Street called the Design Festa Gallery.
It’s hard exactly to tell what kind of establishment is the Design Festa Gallery or what to expect from just the exterior. The building front wasn’t so much decorated, as it was vandalized in a mix-match of different art styles and mediums. But the juxtaposed images did make for a rather interesting sight. The only signs advertised a cafe upstairs and we ended up entering the building through a mix of curiosity and hunger.
The Design Festa Gallery (DFG) is an international art gallery with a twist. Instead of the typical plain halls associated with most museum galleries, DFG takes the form of a two houses at the residential area in Harajuku.
Here, every inch of the gallery can be rented, including the buildings’ toilets or storerooms. Prices are based on size and visibility. Artists are able to rent spaces from as small as a single square on a wall (525 yen/day) to entire halls (up to 52,900 yen/day) for their exhibits.
Artists are free to mold the rooms to their imagination, decorating or in some cases actually reshaping them into a living exhibit. Compared to traditional art galleries, having a showcase here is definitely more impactful and impressionable.
There’s also the location. Harajuku as a trendy teen spot, attracts many more visitors than your typical exhibition. Having a showcase here could help you reach out to the public quite effectively. Design Festa Gallery’s proximity to a number of art colleges would also explain its survival
Even if you’re not one for art, visiting DFG can be an enjoyable experience. All of the designs here are contemporary enough for anyone to appreciate, perhaps due to the heavy pop culture influences among Japanese youths who make up the gallery’s regular patrons.
To complete the artsy image, the Design Festa Gallery is also home to a budget cafe and bar. No idea how the food is like here but it would be fun to try it out some time. Exhibitors are given a discount. Artists aren’t exactly the richest people.
Aspiring artists come here to show off their talents and creativity in ways that a traditional gallery wouldn’t allow for. Many of the exhibitors put up items and pieces for sale too. It can help to cover some of the rental costs, especially if you’re displaying attractive pop art merchandise that can resound with the Harajuku populace.
More information and an online system to check and reserve available spaces (just in case anyone is interested) can be found at the Design Festa Gallery home page.Planning your holiday? We recommend visiting Agoda for a full list of hotels with early bird specials.