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Little Tokyo Design Week opens 'Future City'

July 14, 2011 | 11:03 am

Cities in the Air by#DB93BA

Architecture meets anime at the first Little Tokyo Design Week, which opened Thursday night in downtown Los Angeles. With the theme "Future City," the ambitious program brings together technology and the creative arts in museum exhibitions, design symposiums, a screening of the Japanese animation classic "My Neighbor Tortoro," robot displays and a closing party with food trucks and -- break out those Sailor Moon outfits -- a "cosplay" contest.

If you you aren't sure who Sailor Moon is or didn't know that cosplay is short for costume play, then perhaps you'll want to get with the program, a mixture of intellectual stimulation leavened with pop culture diversions and gee-whiz digital advances. Local and international designers and students will be exploring visions of new urban living, and events are centered on the evolution of futuristic cities since World War II as well as emerging design trends in Japan and Los Angeles.

Among the highlights is the U.S. premiere of the traveling exhibition "Struggling Cities," which includes urban-planning concepts by Japanese architects during the 1960s. (That includes the Lego totem pole cityscape rendering, above.) "Struggling Cities" is on display at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center through July 31. A retrospective of the work of comics artist Stan Sakai, creator of Usagi Yojimbo (again, if you have to ask ...), and a custom vinyl-toy show featuring the work of American artist Frank Kozik will run through Oct. 30 at the Japanese American National Museum.

Logo200 During the "Future City" festival, which, adorably, uses Astro Boy as its mascot, Little Tokyo will be dotted with nearly two dozen steel storage units.

These will serve as pop-up container galleries curated by educators, architects and designers from Los Angeles and Tokyo. They will be on site to discuss their individual installations.

For a full schedule of events, which run through Sunday, visit the Little Tokyo Design Week website.

-- David A. Keeps

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Photo and illustration credits: Little Tokyo Design Week