Abode abroad: Tokyo design guide

After the Elle Decor Design Walk in Tokyo this month, I wanted to share some of the highlights with the readers here at DNN and explore my unique findings beyond the designated Design Walk’s path. Read on for Tokyo twists on familiar US and EU design staples, unique retail and showroom models, and of course aesthetic inspiration you won’t find anywhere else: 

Molten & C in Tokyo

A taste of home

When furniture shopping in Tokyo, the quiet design district in the Minami-Aoyama neighborhood, is a great place to start. Here you’ll find the big French and Italian showrooms, reminiscent of those found in design districts across the United States, like Molteni & C, Roche Bobois, Miele, and more.

From Roche Bobois, Tokyo

This district’s showrooms stand out through their unconventional merchandising, boasting vibrant colors, intricate patterns, and a touch of eccentricity. The infusion of more color, bolder patterns, and an overall sense of ‘funk’ creates an atmosphere that challenges traditional design norms we experience in the US.

Molten & C in Tokyo

Old world opulence

The Kabuki theater, renowned for its ornate design and maximalist aesthetic, is the pinnacle of theatrical excellence that rivals even the grandeur of Broadway productions. The extravagant visuals, intricate costumes, and elaborate stage designs captivate the senses and serve as a wellspring of inspiration for those seeking to incorporate maximalism and intricate detailing into their design work. There are no photos allowed inside, so take a look at the video below to get a sense of Kabuki productions:

Whether you are a regular theater goer or not, experiencing Kabuki will leave you feeling like, ‘they just don’t make them like this anymore,’ like you are transported back to the Edo period and are experiencing the primary source.

Contextualizing maker products in a new retail model

Maker-stores like Parker in Shibuya bill themselves as cafes first, retail spaces second. This is common throughout Japan and much less so in the states, although it is a retail trend I predict will pick up steam everywhere as more people value the stories that accompany the products they buy and uniqueness (which I wrote about earlier this year here. See: the ‘your showroom is now a chain of regional coffee shops’ section).

Click to view on Parker’s Instagram

Los Angeles ceramics company OWIU recently partnered with designer-owned Parker, with a pop up for their tabletop goods. Ordering ice cream and beverages from the shop served on the OWIU dishware was part of the experience. Here, the emphasis is not solely on the products but on the holistic experience they’re involved in. Shops like Parker  which lead with the context in which the goods they sell are utilized, subtly integrate shopping into the business model. The closest thing we have to this right now in the states is Eataly, which isn’t subtle but has restaurants and a retail component. Imagine something more intimate where it wouldn’t be uncommon to walk out of the restaurant having purchased the barstools you sat on to have your meal. It is a great way to buy a piece of the experience you just had and bring it home with you.

See Also

Old meets new

The Nezu Museum presents an intriguing fusion of old-world charm and sleek, modern simplicity. The exhibition currently on display at the Nezu Museum explores the origins of calligraphy in the Edo period, showcased against an architectural glass backdrop. This juxtaposition of antiquity and ultramodern offers a treasure trove of inspiration. 

The height of quiet luxury

Lastly, visiting the Aman Tokyo is a must for anyone who works in the luxury design space. Experiencing this luxurious modern twist on traditional Japanese ryokan-style hospitality provides a valuable lesson in the art of juxtaposition.

The seamless integration of traditional ryokan elements with contemporary hospitality design showcases how history and heritage can be reinterpreted in a sophisticated, modern context, offering a new perspective on timeless elegance and quiet luxury.

View Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


Subscribe Now to the FREE Design News Now newsletter for the latest in product, design and retail trends in the home furnishings industry. Delivered to your inbox weekly!

Scroll To Top