Correspondents' Eye on Tokyo:
Tokyo's Connection to the World Inspires Creativity

Jeremy Smart serves as the creative director for the biannual magazine Design Anthology. Leading Asia's premier interior design publication, he frequently travels between Haneda Airport and various locations in the Asia-Pacific region. When he is in Tokyo, he dedicates much of his free time to the conveniently connected Tokyo neighborhood of Tomigaya in Shibuya City.
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Smart spends most of his free time in Tokyo exploring his local neighborhood of Tomigaya.

Connections, Big and Small

Originally from Australia, Jeremy Smart had spent some time in Hong Kong working for the magazine Design Anthology before eventually moving to Tokyo in April 2022. Part of the reason for the move was that the magazine wanted to build deeper ties with Tokyo, a market that, since its launch, has been very important to the magazine's audience. But more than that it was a personal decision, on which he elaborated: "I think Tokyo is the kind of place that ticks all the boxes in terms of quality of life, day-to-day necessities, and the size of the economy."

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Issue 37 of Design Anthology, published in October 2023, is focused entirely on Japan's creative communities. Photo: courtesy of Jeremy Smart

Smart feels that Tokyo has great connectivity both internally and internationally, and those connections are part of what make it a leading global creative hub.

"I feel like the best of the world comes into Tokyo, and in many ways is perfected here. I think the bar is raised creatively, innovatively and culturally and when this city is connected to the rest of the world."

Speaking further on the topic, Smart mentioned his high regard for Tokyo International Airport (Haneda): "From an infrastructure perspective, Haneda is a perfect airport. It's compact, it's well connected, and it does everything it needs to." The airport is consistently rated amongst the best airports in the world, able to handle approximately 90 million passengers per year and equipped with a number of train, monorail and bus services connecting it with the cities. In Smart's opinion, it is precisely this great connectivity that allows for a lot of global influence to take root in Tokyo, taking on a new quality and bringing creativity to the next level. This is particularly true in terms of architecture, but in many forms of art and culture, too.

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Haneda Airport, he says, represents Tokyo's connection to the world—something he values above all. Photo: iStock

Creativity and Expertise

Aside from the larger connections overseas, he also feels that same sense of convenient connectivity and has access to everything he needs from within his neighborhood of Tomigaya, just west of Yoyogi Park in Shibuya City.

Something that stuck out to Smart about the neighborhood was the easy-to-use transport network that means there is no need for a car. This provided a stark contrast to his hometown in Australia, where he felt that everything was reliant on having your own private transport. Additionally, Shibuya City and Tomigaya is compact and structured in a way that allows him to explore easily on foot or by bike: "I don't leave Shibuya City very often, because I feel that wherever you happen to call home (in Tokyo), you're probably going to have what you need within a five-ten minute walk. There aren't many cities where you can have that at this scale."

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This quiet suburban street in Tomigaya, captures the simultaneous stimulation and quiet. Which he says makes it easy to quickly find and process creative inspiration. Photo: courtesy of Jeremy Smart

For Smart, it is not just connectivity that Tomigaya and Tokyo have to offer, but also the creativity that comes with it.

In terms of inspiration, Tokyo is often referred to as a place where old meets new, but he had a slightly different take on the city's dichotomy: stimulation and quiet. "There's the ability to go from pure stimulation to complete peace and quiet just by traveling one or two blocks. I don't know anywhere else in the world where that is the case, but here you can find it replicated all over the city. As someone doing creative work, it's helpful to be able to dip in, see what's happening, then withdraw and process it, all within an hour."

This connectivity, and possibility for inspiration at every corner make Tomigaya the perfect spot for Smart to let his creativity loose and bring diverse elements into his own magazine designs.

He has spent a long time building connections throughout Japan for Design Anthology, and intends to continue to live and work in Tokyo as long as there is a need for such work.

"We look at things like fashion design, architecture, interior design and product design across multiple disciplines. Trying to tell the stories of emerging designers in Asia is the goal, and something I really care about is giving their voices a platform, and making sure they're being heard."

Jeremy Smart

He is the Creative Director of Design Anthology. Based in Tokyo since 2022, he leads the magazine's global creative functions. He is also a commentator, writing for the likes of Nikkei Asia and The Sydney Morning Herald on design, travel and urbanism.
Photo: courtesy of Jeremy Smart

Interview and writing by Cassandra Lord
Photo by Cassandra Lord