As remote working becomes the norm, even in Japan, many creators have begun focusing on interior goods designed to help make the home office space less of an eyesore. Here are a few “On: Design” picks from recent releases.
Last month, 1518, a creative community platform for connecting furniture manufacturers and designers, debuted its first collection of office and home items at Tokyo’s Designart festival.
Of particular interest is its Re-Born Project, which updates classic chair designs by Noritsuisu — an office, store, hospital and school furniture manufacturer— and a modest desk made by Alps Steel, a steel storage unit specialist.
Noritsuisu’s original four-wheeled Jim Chair and folding Pipe Chair — a design the company has made for over 70 years — are already ubiquitous in offices and meeting rooms across Japan. However, usually upholstered in synthetic black leatherette and supported by chrome legs, they are likely overlooked as a home item, despite their compact and practical designs. Under the direction of product designer Ryota Yokozeki Studio, the 1518 Re-Born versions replace the shiny piping and legs with matte white, brown and gray. Matching upholstery in plain or speckled faux suede also adds to the soft aesthetic, making them fit right at home.
The Alps Steel Jim Desk is more minimalist. Made of wood and steel in colors that complement Noritsuisu’s chairs, its slim, compact structure has discreet handleless drawers, tall document side shelves and a natural wood tabletop.
All the Re-Born pieces are available for pre-order, some with other color options available on request. Prices start from ¥15,400 for the Pipe Chair, ¥40,700 for the Jim Chair and ¥131,450 for the Jim Desk; 15-18.jp
Keeping work separate
For those who don’t have the luxury of a spare room to turn into an office, Junichiro Oshima’s Kagura room partitions for the design group Aida, another Designart debut, can be an attractive way to subtly section off a work space.
Inspired by mizuhiki, the art of ornamental paper cord tying, Oshima worked with Kiuchi Tohzai Kogyo, a traditional wisteria and rattan artisan, to create tall and short dividers of oversized woven knots that stand upright like flat, decorative trees. The smooth wide curves and arches of the rattan design reminded Oshima of the movements of kagura, a sacred dance to celebrate Shinto gods — hence the unusual name.
Unlike conventional partitions or screens, Oshima’s Kagura don’t hide everything around them, but that’s part of the charm. Their open design makes them less obtrusive in a room, not to mention far more attractive. Custom made to order, they are more like minimalist artworks doubling as partitions.
For more information about Kagura variations and prices, contact Oshima via his website, junichirooshima.com.
All tied up
When Marushin — a Kyoto-based planning and development company for textiles such as ribbon, cord and lace — launched its Line-R collection of original goods in 2016, it started with a simple but clever lineup of multipurpose accessory cords, complete with clasps, clips or ring attachments. Now, its latest addition to the series, Sew — a lineup of desk goods in dusky pink, green and gray, and a wall mirror — takes the company in a new, interiors-focused direction.
Designed by Satoshi Umeno of Umenodesign, each Sew item is a simple acrylic shape punched with holes and threaded with Marushin cord for a design feature that is as functional as it is visually striking. Flexible elasticated cord in vibrant contrasting colors is used to support or hold items in the Letter Rack (¥5,170), Pen Stand (¥5,940) and Wall Strap (¥3,520), while a sturdier version is threaded through the Wall Mirror (¥8,140) to become its hanging strap. Only the small Tray (¥5,170) uses the cord as just a color accent, but there’s nothing to stop you from rethreading it to divide its space up, too.
For more information, visit line-r.jp.
Don’t forget to take a break
Design is not something you usually associate with the Norwegian Seafood Council, but its current campaign to promote the benefits of saba (mackerel) has produced an item that is too comical to pass up.
After conducting a consumer survey in September, the council discovered that 75% of respondents noted that they were often too distracted by digital media and TV to focus on their meals. In response, the council worked with Tokyo-based creative agency UltraSuperNew K.K. to develop a light-hearted solution: the Balance Plate, or Baransu Sara in Japanese.
This bizarre wooden sushi plate has only one leg. To actually eat off it, the diner has to use their smartphone to support the other side of the dish. No phone, no tweets, no Instagram, no emails — just lunch on a platter. Rather amusingly, to win one of 10 of these odd plates, consumers are being asked to enter a social media competition by following @norwayseafoodjp on Instagram or Twitter and submitting a photo of a Norwegian mackerel dish with #sababreak.
For information about the campaign, visit bit.ly/baransusara.
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