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The well-organized rites of spring

by Jean Snow

Time to head out into the sunshine

Though the sakura (cherry blossom) festivities have just passed, spring is still in the air, and as the weather warms up we can expect brighter skies. With that comes lots of sunshine, which means for those of us with sensitive skin it’s that time to search out the parasols.

There are plenty of UV-protection parasols available, but our pick is Kota Nezu’s Clock-Parasol, which, as the name suggests, tells the time using the sun. Printed on the inside of the parasol is a “sun dial,” through which the glow of the sun is visible. When the holder is facing south (there’s a compass attached to the parasol’s handle), the glow will light up the time of day.

“The parasol is there to block the sun,” Nezu explains, but it also “invites you to look for the sun.”

The Clock-Parasol is priced at ¥5,980, and there’s a list of places where it can be purchased on the producer’s official website.

Kota Nezu: www.691236.com.

Pulling out the shelves to set the table

There’s definitely a trick to Sakura Adachi’s new “bookcase” for the Italian furniture designer Campeggi. First of all, is it really a bookcase?

The two ends of Trick in fact double as chairs, and once those are pulled out, you are left with a table (or desk) in the center. It’s a great-looking design, and furniture that fulfills more than one role in the home is a favorite of ours, especially considering the number of compact apartments in this country.

A Trick or two would be handy in any studio apartment, where they could serve as dining tables, work centers, or simply bookcases. Priced in euros only at €840, Trick is available in Japan at Time & Style design stores.

Sakura Adachi: www.sakurah.net. Campeggi: www.campeggisrl.it.

Lots of handy pockets

More clean design from Chiaki Murata’s Metaphys company is always welcome, and this time the brand is expanding with a new product category — the bag.

First up is the canvas Hug. To be worn slung over the shoulder and across the body, it “hugs” your back and has three pockets, each sized differently — two smaller on the outside and a larger one on the inside. Priced at ¥9,500, it’s available in white, orange, brown and black. Like the Hug, the Maisonette S tote bag is slimline and has three different-size pockets. Just a fraction more expensive at ¥9,800, it’s available in the same colors as the Hug.

Both bags, as well as all items from Metaphys, can be purchased directly from the company’s website.

Metaphys: www.metaphys.jp.

Take note of stationery style

Graffiti Pad is a new addition to Craft Design Technology’s great line of stylish stationery. An unusual feature of this A7-size memo pad is that the paper is made of stone powder and non-toxic resin, not wood pulp. This gives the sheets an interesting texture, which works really well with pencils.

Graffiti Pads are also, of course, very eco-friendly. No trees are destroyed and the material is biodegradeable. The pattern used to decorate the pad’s cover is based on designs associated with Edo Period samurai, and it is available in dark green, pale green, and vermilion, which are also traditional Japanese hues.

A Graffiti Pad costs only ¥294 and they are already being sold in most of Tokyo’s select design shops.

Craft Design Technology: www.craftdesigntechnology.co.jp.

Calling on more fans

With energy conservation on the mind of everyone, eco-friendly alternatives to air-conditioning units are worth looking into. The Naoto Fukasawa-directed Plus Minus Zero brand has just released three new fan models that fit the bill.

Fans are not new to Plus Minus Zero — we recommended its first model back in 2008. These new versions, though, come in three specifications and start at half the price of the original model.

The Living Fan (72 cm tall) and the Table Fan (42.5 cm) are both priced at ¥7,980, while the smaller Compact Fan is only ¥3,990. Each model comes in beige, brown and white, and they should be available any time now at the Plus Minus Zero webstore. For more from PMZ, check the newly opened showcase space on Cat Street in Harajuku, which is displaying many of the company’s products.

Plus Minus Zero: plusminuszero.jp. (N.B. items at the showcase space are for display only, not to buy.)