Nendo’s cabbage chair, Trico’s ashtub and more

Next in line

Conof caused quite a stir among design aficionados last year with the release of its paper shredder, a product that you normally wouldn’t imagine as deserving of much attention.

Now, it’s building on the smooth lines and stylish look of that hit product with another piece of standard office equipment, the telephone. The Digital Cordless Telephone is the first of a planned complete line of office appliances — next up is a desk lamp that doubles as a USB hub.

The phone packs in the usual features — a flashing light for incoming calls, separate ring tones for different callers and a message service — all in a space-saving shape that is even compact when it’s recharging in its base.

Available in white and mocha; conof.jp

Stylish practicality

The shelves that you buy for your home tend to be an afterthought. They don’t typically act as a defining piece in your home’s interior decor — after all, we need them for practical reasons: to organize the rest of our things, bringing order to the chaos of all our stuff. Just consider the ubiquity of the IKEA’s less-than-exciting BILLY shelves.

To change this mindset, take a look at designer Mitsuhiro Kanada’s Strapped Orthogonality. The “strapped” in the name is quite literal: The various boards that comprise the unit are kept together with the use of black bands that are arranged in a way that gives the structure a shape straight out of Tetris.

Strapped Orthogonality is sold at all Bals Tokyo stores; >www.balstokyo.com

King of ash

Despite Japan being fairly friendly to smokers, the number of nonsmoking areas seems to be on the rise. For those who are still stuck in rooms where smoking is allowed, at least there’s the Ashtub Trico.

Available in a number of colors (black, blue, red, white, yellow and orange), the ashtray’s crown-like top tapers to a tiny hole through which cigarette ash and butts disappear. The product’s shape is also suitable for cars, as it fits into any standard cup holder.

¥2,500; available in most of Tokyo’s design stores; www.ideaco-web.com

Do it yourself seating

Oki Sato of the company Nendo is quite the busy designer these days. On top of new restaurant interiors (the Kisala restaurant in Akasaka) and various products, some to be previewed next month in Milan (see below), this month he is participating in the new Issey Miyake-curated “XXIst Century Man” exhibition (celebrating the first anniversary of the 21_21 Design Sight museum).

Miyake requested that all participants come up with furniture created out of pleated paper, a waste material produced in the manufacture of furniture. Sato answered the call with the Cabbage Chair, which he created by slicing and spreading out the layers of a roll of pleated paper.

If produced as a commercial product, the chair could be shipped out as a roll, with customers forming the chair themselves at home.

“XXIst Century Man” is showing at 21_21 Design Sight from March 30 till July 6; 2121designsithg.jp; nendo.jp

The big one in Italy

Get ready for the deluge of design news that is sure to come out of the upcoming Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan (April 16-21). It’s surely the biggest interior showcase of the year, and all the top names — in terms of both designers and manufacturers — are going to have a presence. Here’s hoping for another fine showing from Japan, with this year’s Lexus L-finesse showcase (at the Museo della Permanente) featuring an installation by the design company Nendo (see above). There should be enough fashionable fallout from the festival to fill up the pages of most of Japan’s culture and design magazines in the months to come.

www.cosmit.it