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
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
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 communityand of course their
445: Design on Tokyo
A trio of interior design events is on its way to bring style into our Tokyo
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
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
Ideé is one of Tokyos most established interiors stores
The days of sitting on the tatami floor are over
Tokyo's embraces ultra-modern design
Put feng shui to work at work
The ancient Chinese art of feng shui
Trina O'Hara reveals the personal
touches that three foreigners have brought to their Tokyo
There are many reasons why we look forward
to a new country of residence-none more memorable,
or satisfying, than unwrapping our belongings from home and
arranging them in a new setting. It's a telling moment,
though, when the "essentials" don't fit,
don't match or don't work and we realize we
have to adapt to our home as much as to the culture outside
our front door.
In Japan, however, our homes seem to be more private and we
rarely get a chance to see how others deal with this interior-design
conundrum. So here is a sneak peek into three expatriate apartments.
Their owners tell us how they started with some Western-style
furniture, a little free space to bring new objects into their
life and the desire to record a Japanese experience in their
decorating. The results may provide you with some elegant,
inventive solutions for your own "global mix."
An exuberant, colorful living space, high on the "feel-good
factor" wasn't always the case for Ramon, a
Spanish-born Australian whose last home was an old Queensland
worker's cottage with 3-meter-high ceilings. In Tokyo
he was faced with a small, dark "box" with ugly
carpet, glass sliding doors, paneled walls and low ceilings.
The house's only saving graces were its small garden
outside and close proximity to work. Ramon's interior
needed a touch of theater, so he started with a few cherished
possessions and a burst of warm color.
relies on Japanese artifacts (top) and bursts of red to
liven up his boxy Tokyo apartment
"From loving antique European, farmer-type
furniture, I found myself getting nostalgic over weathered
Japanese artifacts," Ramon says. "I like to
collect boxes, though I'm not sure why the fascination.
I like their sizes, shapes and variations, especially medicine
boxes, suitcases and tansu. My favorite piece is a sushi box
that I turned into a coffee table by adding castors. I also
collect red things, like wooden lacquer plates or artwork
with red in it.
"The other thing I find myself doing is collecting
statues, masks and quirky figurines. I was told by an interior
designer that it's like having lots of people in the
room, so it gives the room a happy, personable atmosphere.
However, my Japanese friends think it's a little strange;
they believe the soul of the owner resides in these objects
so they get a little spooked. While my room can look Japanese,
I guess I tend to use items the Japanese do not."
Unlike reviving a dark disaster, Samantha had the reverse
problem when moving into her brand-new apartment in Tokyo.
Coming from the United Kingdom, Samantha was used to old,
converted buildings with a real sense of history. In Tokyo
she entered a white, minimal high-rise she describes as a
"blank canvas with no real character." So for
Samantha, decorating took on an entirely different emphasis.
She says, "In Japan, I have to bring in character from
the outside to create a living space that embraces both old
and new. I like the feeling of giving something old a new
home and hopefully passing it on to the next generation. So
I love to collect scrolls, lacquerware, ceramics, ink stones,
brushes, old calligraphy, obi and kimono, photography, even
garden accessories like stone lanterns. Since living in Japan,
I look at things in a very different way and I really enjoy
creating a space that balances uncluttered contemporary with
old and interesting."
Samantha says the only thing she hates about her home now
is the fact she will have to leave it one day.
Thawley also leans toward rich reds and mixing classic
and contemporary designs
looks for old and interesting items to contrast
with her minimalist space
When Samuel Thawley and his fiancé came to Tokyo, they
were faced with another common ailment in the expatriate community.
Namely, furniture provided by the company in a style not their
own. Decorating their home required making the most of the
existing furniture, stamping their space with their own style
and satisfying their desire to capture a contemporary Japanese
The couple love portrait paintings, their red couch and strong
graphic shapes in a room. So it wasn't long before
rugs, lamps and shapely lacquerware were added to the mix.
They too enjoy rich reds, together with a hint of black and
the warmth of wood. And like Samantha and Ramon, they like
nothing more than mixing contemporary and classic styles with
Curious, we asked our residents their favorite places for
products to line their "nest" and remarkably
their answers were almost identical. All three frequent contemporary
stores like Cibone Aoyama or Living Motif in Roppongi, then
for all things rustic or Japanese they go to Togo flea market,
Oedo Antique market, Michael's in Azabu-Juban and Otsu
or Bonvoyage store in Meguro.
If you are experiencing expatriate life for the first time
or the "umpteenth" time, no doubt you have taken
a different approach to living in the big city. And like our
three residents here, the best part about these experiences
is that they lead you to exciting new discoveries, helping
you shape a "global" home that is truly unique
by Trina O'Hara