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Address book

Asia Modern
This far-flung shop in Tokushima Prefecture, near Shikoku, is for the more adventurous shoppers.
1F Fukuoka Bldg, 2-1-13 Sumiyoshi, Tokushima-shi. Tel: 088-622-3969. Open daily noon-8pm.


Kartell Shop
4F Living Design Center Ozone, Shinjuku Park Tower, 3-7-1 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku. Tel: 03-5322-6808. Open Thu-Tue 10:30am-6:30pm, closed Wed. Nearest stn: Shinjuku, west exit.

Room Service
1-11-2 Chuo-cho, Meguro-ku. Tel: 03-5722-6686. Open Mon-Fri noon-8pm; Sat, Sun and hols 11am-8pm. Nearest stn: Tokyu Toyoko line, Gakugei Daigaku stn.


bar news and views

529: Trend spotting
Trina O'Hara takes us on a tour of international furniture fairs to find the top Japanese designers at work today.
521: Child's play
Trina O'Hara checks out the design celebrities hatching playful furniture and accessories for kids.
517: Personal Effects
In celebration of the centennial of his birth, Trina O'Hara looks at the life and enduring legacy of Japanese-American designer Isamu Noguchi.
513: Seeing the light
Trina O'Hara ponders the latest interior design trend and finds the answer is clear.
505: Lights of fancy
Trina O'Hara checks out the contemporary chandeliers and whimsical lighting sculptures fast becoming fine art across the city.
501: Natural causes
493: Living rooms
Inspired by the diverse lifestyles of this teeming metropolis, design experts Kyoko Asakura and Jaume J. Nasple-Baulenas have compiled an intriguing look inside the city's private homes. Tama Miyake Lung talks to the authors of Tokyo Houses.
489: Living in the past
Art editor John McGee reveals three Tokyo stores that specialize in finding the best of what's old in Japanese antiques.
485: Monochrome marvels
Black and white are back in fashion and making their mark in the interior design scene. Martin Webb reports on how to get the look for less.
481: Cut and paste
Scrapbooking has swept America, where it's big business, and now it's catching on in Japan. Chris Betros attends a "cropalong."
477: Moss cause
A sprinkling of moss can transform any windowsill into a miniature Zen temple. Hanna Kite offers some tips for bringing a little tranquility home.
469: Ikebana for idiots
With a plethora of rules and schools, Ikebana can be intimidating, not to mention time-consuming. But who says busy people have to miss out on this ancient art form? Georgia Jacobs gives you the basics on no-fuss flower-arrangement.
466: A dyeing breed
Winning fans from New York to Tokyo, designer Akiyoshi Yaezawa is putting a traditional stamp on modern accessories using a 17th-century hand-dyeing and painting process. Krista Wilson reports.
457: Party of five
Matt Wilce lays out five luscious looks for New Year.
449: Thought out
Designers create spaces but they also like to inhabit them. SuperDeluxe offers a place to drink and think for the design community—and of course their friends
445: Design on Tokyo
A trio of interior design events is on its way to bring style into our Tokyo living rooms
439: Setting pretty
Matt Wilce lays the table with styles for summer.
435: Tropical haven
Asian furnishings are finding their way to flats across the city
431: Wed white and blue
Treasures of traditional Japanese design, blue and white are the perfect foil for Tokyo's sweltering summers
427: Have a ball
Who says you need tickets to catch a piece of World Cup action?
423: Collection point
Nishi-Ogikubo's 65 pre-loved furniture stores make up Tokyo's great antique oasis
419: Flower power
Bring your gloomy flat back to life with seasonal flowers.
415: On the mend
Tokyo's fix-it men can have your furniture back in form
411: Phone home
Panasonic unveils the e-lifestyle of the near future
407: Launch Pad
Sputnik Pad lands in Jingumae
399: Interiors

395: Interiors
Kitchenware flare
391: Interiors
Ide is one of Tokyo’s most established interiors stores
387: Inner sanctum
The days of sitting on the tatami floor are over
383: Life in style
Tokyo's embraces ultra-modern design
367: Wealthy workplaces
Put feng shui to work at work
364: Healthy homes
The ancient Chinese art of feng shui

Child's play

Trina O'Hara checks out the design celebrities hatching playful furniture and accessories for kids.

Tang Chiang's "Uni" chair

Putting together an ultra-chic pad is easy: add one sleek designer couch by Corbusier, one dining table made of plexiglass cubes, some minimalist paintings and a rare 1950s three-legged floor lamp by the master architect Philip Johnson. Creating an ultra-chic and practical interior when you have young children, however, is a little more challenging. Many new parents describe a kind of design discomfort watching their racy "sports car" living room take on the appearance of a functional family wagon.

But a new addition to the family doesn't have to end the dream scheme. Some of the hottest architects and designers are injecting glamour into the world of children's furniture with designs to cultivate the imagination, maximize the modern setting and add a buzz of celebrity to the home. Here are a few examples to help you out of the "wagon."


Star-studded spaces
Enter international design superstar Philippe Starck. The modern icon has literally scattered Japan with architectural tours de force. He is responsible for the giant beer glass-shaped building that is the Asahi Beer Hall, the Nani Nani Building in Tokyo and the Baron Vert building in Osaka. He furnished the Elysee Palace apartments for the President of France and won numerous industrial design awards, including a Design Oscar.

Karim Rashid's "Kapsule chairs"

And Starck does children's furniture. His latest, offbeat, cartoon-like armchair named "Zbork" makes use of new modeling techniques in plastic. It's designed to look like a fabric beanbag, only its polyethylene stands up to industrial-strength child's play. His modernist designs are available from the innovative furniture company Kartell, located in Shinjuku.

To add a playful, Japanese flavor to your contemporary living space, try Tang Chiang's inflatable, sea urchin-inspired "Uni" chair. Chiang's designs are available under the Bozart (a play on "beaux arts") design label thanks to company director Larry Mangel. Mangel cherry-picked "Uni" for his range of whimsical design products, all of which are created by exhibiting, museum-quality artists.

Following a successful career in advertising, Chiang crashed onto the international furniture design scene in New York, Cologne and Milan, becoming a finalist in Felissimo's design competition in Paris along the way. Children certainly enjoy his award-winning imagination because they can launch themselves onto "Uni" and be taken in by its 24 air-filled arms. Go to or the Asia Modern store in Tokushima-shi to experience it for yourself.

Laurie Simmons and Peter Wheelwright's "Kaleidoscope House"

As the son of an archaeologist, legendary American furniture designer Josh Owen spent the summers of his youth excavating sites in the Middle East. He's still uncovering great artifacts, including his latest lighting "experiments" for children, shown at the Paris Furniture Fair and the International Contemporary Fair in New York City.

Owen's interactive "Knock off" lamps, available at the Asia Modern store and the Bozart website, are arguably the most fun-filled lights on the market. The exact size and shape of a bowling pin, the light stays on when it's standing up and turns off when it's knocked over. For any child who is afraid of the dark, these attractive lamps are a fun way to turn out the light.


The kids are all right
To give children a head start in the language of good furniture design (and add another slice of design heaven to your own home), you can't go past the "Kaleidoscope House" designed by conceptual artist Laurie Simmons and architect Peter Wheelwright. The house looks like a masterpiece of the modern design movement and has to be the sexiest, most inspiring dollhouse ever! The house features funky mid-century modern furniture, scaled-down versions of real paintings, photographs, a piano, kitchen accessories, even color transparencies that slide over each other for exercises in color mixing. The "Kaleidoscope House" is available at Room Service in Meguro or on the Bozart website.

Tarantino's "EvaDva" stackable chairs

For a young, fashionable look in your living room, you could also opt for some "Kapsule" chairs by English/Egyptian industrial designer Karim Rashid. The "Kapsule" is an innovative seat design offering a practical solution to the small Tokyo living room-it functions as a storage unit or toy box.

A worldwide design sensation, Rashid has been called the "poet of plastic" because he can take the most inexpensive material and bring it to life with even the most basic form. His Japanese clients seem to agree; they include Issey Miyake, Fujitsu, Sendai City, Idée and Sony. His designs have also appeared on MTV and are favored by the likes of Missy Elliot, Kevin Spacey, Patricia Arquette and David Lynch. Tokyo Gas even has his work in its private collection. To start your own, go to or the Asia Modern store.

Studies show that kids respond well to pure, bright color and pattern, so it's not surprising the latest line of EVA foam furniture from the Tarantino design studio has left a monster-sized footprint on the children's furniture market. As this husband-and-wife design team live and work out of their Frank Lloyd Wright home in the United States, their practice has a special focus on Frank Lloyd Wright structures.

Phillipe Starck's "Zbork" chair

Guided by Wright's architectural principals, the couple developed a durable, modular seating system allowing the chairs to be stacked and played with like building blocks. Kids love them and so do the judges. These "EvaDva" chairs won the prestigious Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design's Good Design Award in 2003. "EvaDva" chairs are available at Room Service in Meguro.

So, the parental interior design cringe is over! With all the architects and designers injecting award-winning glamour into children's furniture, your home should be brimming with self-confident chic. The (designer) hand that rocks the cradle is looking after you too.

Photo Credits:
Starck beanbag chair, credit Kartell
Colorful waste paper bins, credit Kartell
EvaDva stackable chairs, credit Tarantino Studio
Kapsule chairs, credit Bozart
'Uni' Chair, credit Bozart
Kaleidoscope House, credit Bozart
'Knock off' Lamps, credit Bozart