Earlier this month at Tokyo Big Sight exhibition center, the massive Interior Lifestyle show hosted more than 600 exhibitors, more than half of which were domestic companies. Having dug through the many products on display, this week I will spotlight the best Japanese designs you can expect to see on shelves in the coming year.

A desk full of play

The products from Chiaki Murata’s METAPHYS brand are always impressive. METAPHYS’ booth, part of the show’s “Design Click” showcase, included, among other things, the Mobius Ring from their new line of women’s accessories. They also showed a stationery set that featured the Volca paper-clip holder, the Lago water-filled stamp moistener, and my favorite, the Soto card holder, which doubles as a game of rubber-band quoits. And, lastly, they introduced lively Falce partitions from their upcoming furniture line, which should pep up boring office cubicles.


By the light of the woods

It was hard not to love the wooden furniture and tableware on display at Bunaco’s booth, but the lamps were especially attractive. Later, realizing that the full collection featured prominently in Tokyo’s most stylish hangouts — Hotel Claska and the Toraya Cafe to name two — I can’t say I was surprised. The reddish glow that filters through the wooden lampshades warms up any room. Even when turned off, they are beautiful objects that add panache to any space. The Bunaco lamp collection comes in various forms — table, floor and bracket — which can be viewed at their Web site.


Finding a niche

Established in 2004, Suwaru Style is a young brand that teams Tokyo Sinco Leather and Ideaco & Associates with the goal of “creating new ways of sitting for new floor environments.” Their collection was a delight — and deserved their selection as part of the “C/O/O/L” showcase, alongside the inevitable presence of the Plusminuszero brand. There was the UNO chair, that mimics a person sitting on their knees, and the MEMO, which has a sled-like support, but let’s highlight BRICK. With a right-angled backrest that gives it an unusual shape, this seat is perfect for the corners in your room that need filling.


Out to hang

Who hasn’t hung something on a tree? That must be where designer Yukihito Takahashi got the idea for his Tree Jacket Hanger. The beautifully shaped coat rack is a stylized, even iconic, representation of a tree, and one that suits its function perfectly. Use it to keep a suit jacket nice and straight or to sling various pieces of clothing on the “branches.” The entire collection from Eau’s “Wood Design Project” was notable, all with wood-based takes on common items of home accessories, including other racks such as the Arbre (French for “tree”), Stick and Frame.


Back against the stool

The Waku-Work collection from designer Makoto Koizumi is a stylish addition to the growing SOHO (small office/home office) movement. In particular, the Waku-Work Chair, which adds the backrest of a chair to an open stool is just the thing to keep you rested yet alert at your desk. The Waku-Work series also features a table, wagon and desk manufactured by Nissin, which will cost you around 50,000 yen to 200,000 yen a piece. Keep an eye out for Koizumi’s Kuku chair from the Miyazaki Chair Factory as well.


Best of the rest

This is just a small sample of what was a terrific show of Japanese interior design. The use of wood was plentiful, and a functional wooden keyboard from Hacoa and new bags from Monacca (an On Design favorite) are worth a mention. Plusminuszero showed their just-released collection, including a coffee- and tea-maker, a toaster, a calculator, a heater and their popular humidifiers in new colors. The brand Erect, which has launched a full assault on the city’s select shops, assembled their Crash calculators, Horn mugs and Colored animal figurines. Lastly, I had a good laugh when Studio Macho designer, Gaku Otomo, demonstrated his gym-inspired home accessories, and in the biggest surprise, an award should go to Disney and WA-Qu’s collaboration on a line of traditional Japanese products (i.e. chopsticks with the mouse-ear logo), which managed to give the childish brand a sense of style and taste — if you can believe that.


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