21 21 Design Sight (Tokyo)

Tokyo, Japan. This museum is dedicated to researching the potential of design as an element that enriches daily life. The goal is to give visitors design insights and perspectives on the everyday world, it's objects and our activities. When we arrived, the gardeners were micro-weeding the lawn outside.

The current exhibition, "Athlete", focuses on the Athlete's ability to master physical micro actions that are usually unconscious, like taking a step or grasping a cup, etc. These skills, when developed, are useful in everyday life as well as the world of sports. Perhaps this is intended to relate to the Olympics scheduled to be held in Tokyo.

The exhibition begins with some human motion data visualizations, including "Hurdler", a beautiful immersive installation. The main exhibition hall, with about 10 interactives, isolates specific skills such as timing, focus, balance, gaging distance & pressure. The stations are designed with one side open and the other partially blocked with angled strips of scrim, for semi privacy.

The design of these single-user interactives is extremely simple, with minimal instruction provided on pedestal signs. There is no open-ended exploration in these interactives. Each has a single, specific target task with clear feedback, providing a learning curve for the visitor. The appearance is boring, but visitors are engaged, focused and motivated to improve their personal best skill at each one.

A few examples: Pressure, (left) and center of balance in different sports (right)

Balance (left), and timing (right).

Distance (left), Pressure (right)

The exhibition lightly explores other themes including the symbolism of medals, the role of an athlete as an idol, the complexity of planning routes for climbing, the role of making sounds in training. A display of highly designed athletic equipment is jumbled and hard to see clearly. This is a self survey station on the way out.

A ping pong area at the end of the exhibition, visible as you enter from above, is free for visitors to use. They museum is hosting an official tournament on site.

Arrows signs and pedestal stand for hand outs.