By Stuart Braun
it's used it's in. Stuart Braun hunts down Tokyo's pre-loved furniture
until recently, everything in Tokyo was newif it wasn't, it was
gomi. But there's been a sea of change. Old is in. Young Tokyoites
are leading a revival of interest in furniture, clothes, accessories
and curios from the past. If it's retro, vintage, antique or classic,
somehow it's "now"and the kids can't get enough. Leading the buzz
in old is retro furniture and housewares. With style remaining a
staple commodity in Tokyo, aspiring interior designers can, with
a few bargain classics from the '60s and '70s, give their apartments
a Wallpaper* finish at
a fraction of the cost of a spanking new Herman Miller settee. From
Daikanyama to Koenji, used and antique furniture stores, once an
anomaly in Tokyo, are doing a booming trade. Here's a selection
of Tokyo's best second-hand furniture and houseware shops that give
you a blast from the past.
|Demode Q retro
Emerging from the
used clothing store of the same name, Demode Q, in two short years,
is the guiding light of Tokyo's retro furniture frenzy. Occupying,
in Tokyo terms, a relatively large space on the edge of Shibuya,
Demode Q is both pop culture museum and furniture store, hosting
a cornucopia of vinyl chairs, '60s couches, analog synthesizers,
funky lamps and, of course, the space-age Discoverer TV (only for
lease). Manager Susuma Matsuzawa is an audiophile who has filled
Demode Q with a selection of vintage electronic instruments that
complement an electro time warp of plastic fantastic turntables,
radios, TVs and blenders. These are jammed between green deco lounge
chairs (JY32,000 the pair), a classic barbers chair (JY40 000),
a slew of hanging '70's plastic light shades, revolving globes (JY6000),
funky spiral patterned carpets, and the piece de resistance, a Herman
Miller designed executive chair (JY120,000). Matsuzawa, who regularly
tracks down gear from flea markets and Kobutsucho (antique town),
constantly changes his fast-selling range so regular visits are
Shinsencho, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3 463-3225.
Tokyo's hidden antique gem, Akutaya (roughly translated as junk)
is a treasure-trove of Japanalia, a labor-of-antique-love created
two years ago by 23-year-old university drop-out, Kentaro Miyauchi.
Within the walls of this wooden shack, situated ten minutes walk
from Koenji station, are myriad antiques and collectibles from of
the Meiji period and beyond. Procured largely from old houses facing
demolition, Miyauchi buys cheap and sells cheaptry a 150-year-old
solid wood dresser for JY10,000. Perusing this rustic retro retreatTom
Waits' Bone Machine album
is appropriately on constant rotationis enough to inspire a quick,
and very affordable, renovation of your apartment. Late Meiji period
antique dining chairs (JY5000), classic glass lamps (JY1500), antique
clocks, colorful crockery, felt hats, kitsch plastic ramen and tempura
displays (JY1000), and if iconography's your thing, an oversized
vintage "Cupy" doll complete with sailors hat and geta
clogs (JY6000), are just a taste of this pre-loved labyrinth.
Koenji Open: 5pm-12am daily.
The doorstep to
the rest of Asia, Tokyo is the place to pick-up classic Chinese,
Tibetan or Vietnamese furniture at prices well below fadish Asia-tique
stores in New York or London. Yang C Asian Arts in Kamiyacho, owned
by Francesca Amery, who personally picks up the goods on regular
outings across the nether reaches of China and Tibet, stocks what
she calls "unique" though "utilitarian" antique, and some reproduction,
chairs, trunks, dressers, letter boxes, wedding cabinets, lamps,
ancestral portraits and statuettes. Procured from exotic locations
across the Orient, and including collectibles up to 600 years old,
Yang C aims to give people access to affordable, and usable, Asian
furniture. Set in a dinky back lane, as opposed to a high-rent neon
department store, the prices remain very competitive, range from
around JY300,000 for a stunning 18th-century lacquer painted Tibetan trunk, down to
JY40,000 for a 120-year-old Chinese leather letterbox. Reproduced
Chinese lattice screen lamps have an authentic hue (JY30,000) and
if nothing else takes your fancy Francesca will track down custom
orders on her next trip to Asia.
Azabu Bldg. 102 1-1-8 Azabu-dai, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-3560-6943. Open
10am-6pm Mon, Wed and Fri.
aesthetes: stylin' seconds at scelta
One of Tokyo's coolest lounge
lairs, Scelta is a temple to chic design from the '60s and '70s.
It's not cheap (designer eyewear classics for between JY6000-JY12,000),
but this is the cream of retro, with a fine, and rotating, selection
of rare furniture, clothes and accessories on hand. Upstairs, the
Scelta CafEis regaled in retro finery and, over a quick coffee,
gives a few clues as to how your apartment should look.
Daikanyama, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3770-7410.
Hiroo, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3406-1360. Open 11am-8pm daily.
Another hidden second-hand furniture oasis, d.b.r specializes in
an impressive selection of functional, though up-scale, chairs and
couches. If you're in the market for a Le Corbusier Easy Chair or
a spacey designer '70s couch, in addition to a number of more prosaic
used bookshelves and cabinets, d.b.r offers a good mix of style