Our First Design Festival Launched; Why we named it a “Festival”

This is Ryo from Spectrum Tokyo.

This week we launched our website for our first design festival, “Spectrum Tokyo Design Fest 2022”. The ticket sales have already started as well.

About the event

Spectrum Tokyo Design Fest is a two-day design festival by Spectrum Tokyo, a design community broadening the perspectives in digital design.

Various presentations and workshops related to design will be held on multiple tracks, and there will be an open space for mingling with booths, snacks and drinks (details may change due to pandemic situations). Participants can meet, discuss and connect with design practitioners regardless of field, occupation, or nationality.

The festival will be held in-person and online, and guess what, the borders have finally opened in Japan which means foreigners don’t need any invitations or visa to get in now (you will still need to get vaccinated or take a PCR test).

The Line-up

As our first line-up, we have total of 26 speakers coming from various areas in digital design. I can proudly say that this line-up represents our style very well, having diversity in many ways. The selection of the speakers also looks very different from the other domestic conferences, which should make it more interesting.

We already have the program and bio for the speakers, so be sure to check them out on our website!

Why “Festival”, not a conference

This event is much like a design conference, but I want to call it a “festival.”

This is because I want to make it an event where everyone can talk more casually and share the energy, rather than a serious conference where we go and sit down and sleep on presentations. Rather than passively participating, everyone should be more active to actually learn stuff. I want people to casually talk about design in a fun and friendly atmosphere; like a festival. Through the casual talk with participants and speakers, discussions can get very deep and interesting, but even if it doesn’t, casual conversations still trigger lots of inspirations.

The knowledge of digital design and UX that we deal with every day does not necessarily have one correct answer, so speakers should not “teach” the design they are practicing, they should be share it and have the stance from learn from others as well.

As you can see by looking at the program, at this festival the time allotted to the speakers is shortened to 15 or 30 minutes. However, between sessions, there is an AMA (Ask Me Anything) session after each speaker. This is all designed for the sole purpose of one thing; communication. Of course, during that time, you can move on to another stages for another presentation, or you can go talk to other participants or speakers in the mingle space. You’re free to walk around and do what you please.

A Step Towards Global

Despite being a local Japanese design event, we have foreign speakers that are flying in or who are active in Japan. For those of you who know Japan, this may be a challenge to some locals since it is not common to speak English at design conferences, especially when we want them to mingle. But Spectrum Tokyo’s concept is diversity in design, so cultural exchange is the most basic way to feel diversity. We feel that it’s just something people need to get used to, so that’s why we chose this path.

Another initiative of Spectrum Tokyo is to share the Japanese way of design to the world. But unfortunately, as I stated earlier, there are not many English speaking presenters, so this time around half of the Japanese presentation will be translated by translators so that foreigners can enjoy their talks.

The venue will have two stages, a “Global Stage” and a “Local Stage”, and the Global Stage will have simultaneous interpretation between Japanese and English.

Since we do not have translations for the local stage, this stage will mainly be Japanese speakers. This obviously doesn’t make sense to many foreign participants, so on eventbrite we have prepared an English only ticket that only covers the Global Stage and made it a bit cheaper.

We hope you get a glimpse of what the digital design in Japan looks like through our content. Grab your ticket now, and since Japan is opening up now, we are more than thrilled to see you in-person as well.

Get your ticket now


This is our first time ever designing an event like this, and we are open to any feedbacks, especially from an international point of view. Please let us know if anything feels wrong, we will try to fix it. Otherwise, we will look forward to seeing you at the event.

Written By

Ryo Sampei

Ryo is Editor-in-Chief of Spectrum Tokyo. He works as a Producer and Content Strategist at Flying Penguins Inc., a UX design firm in Tokyo, Japan. He is also in charge of Design Matters Tokyo, a pop-up design conference from Copenhagen, Denmark. He loves video games and punk rock, both from the 90s.

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