The traditional Japanese end-of-year “spring clean” is usually when you discover that some of the home’s furnishings are a bit worse for wear. So why not look into some stylish investments now, before you get the broom out for the new year.

Dip into style

Since furniture usually involves having to splash out. Let’s start with the bathroom.

Hinokisoken’s Modern Wooden-bath Tub range has two new beautiful baths that are a perfect mix of tradition and contemporary design. Made from fragrant hinoki (Japanese cypress) wood, the once common material for baths in Japan, both these tubs take a modern box-like form and are decorated with twist.

The Yakie is stunning, with its side panel burned with a ukiyo-e print-like design featuring an autumnal Mount Fuji and two Edo-Period travelers, but it is the subtle Tatami that is perhaps the most interesting.

As the name suggests, the Tatami has a decorative tatami-mat side panel, but what is surprising is that it also has a tatami base. Yes, you can actually splash about in the bath while sitting on woven tatami. Don’t panic about sitting on soggy flooring, though, this is a special water-resistant tatami that can be lifted out, wiped off and left to dry.

These baths are not cheap, with Yakie at ¥2,592,000 and Tatami at ¥1,965,600 — but they would definitely make your bathroom quite the talking point.


Rugs from an architectural master

Kengo Kuma is renowned for his traditional Japanese-inspired contemporary buildings, including Tokyo’s Nezu Museum and the Kabukiza theater, so it may seem odd that he has also designed a few rugs.

His collaboration with Yamagata Dantsu, carpet makers for the Imperial family and creators of the Hotel Okura lobby’s original plush flooring, however, makes total sense. Yamagata Dantsu’s carpets are all hand woven in Japan and use native materials (which even includes the dyes used to color the pile).

Kuma’s designs take on three aspects of nature that have a special affinity with Japanese lifestyle. Ishi (stone) is a pale gray rug of thick pile lightly sculpted with curved lines reminiscent of a Japanese rock garden. Koke (moss) is mottled in different shades of green and also sculpted, this time into the relief of a bed of wild moss. Mori (forest, pictured on the left) is the most three-dimensional of the series, with raised orbicular shapes that give it the semblance of an aeriel view of lush woodland.

In the large size — 140 x 200 cm — Ishi is priced at ¥203,040, Koke at ¥557,280 and Mori at ¥421,200. If that’s a bit much, though, they all also come as small mats. See the website for pricing.


So simple a child can do it

This is novel idea. Kids’ furniture that is so easy to construct, they can do it themselves.

Each Palapeli piece of furniture — from a range of small tables and stools — is made from birch and comes flat-packed in a box that includes a seat or tabletop and a set of three or four L-shaped leg parts. You, or your child, simply line up the holes on the leg pieces with those on the reverse side of the seat or tabletop and then screw in a giant wooden bolt at the center.

Palapeli is Finnish for “puzzle” and the range, which comes with circular, oblong or triangular seats and tabletops, has been specially designed so that toddlers can put the pieces together. The legs also have matching color bands, which if removed makes the item a few centimeters shorter. The idea is that you can add them later as the children get bigger.

The range is also part of the Asahikawa Design Week initiative, which promotes design products using wood from the Asahikawa area of Hokkaido, so all these pieces are made from locally sourced birch.

Prices range from ¥16,200 for a stool to ¥58,320 for a big table. Contact Mobel Toko for more information.


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