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Tuesday, April 25, 2006


Amadana appliances, Metaphys' Cyclone Cleaner, Jurgen Lehl furniture, Yukimasa Matsuda/Groovisions for Kokuyo

Special to The Japan Times

This month we go freestyle, working with our gut instinct about what we like right now. So whether it's adding a dash of design spice to the kitchen, or taking care of your basic cleaning needs, we guarantee that you'll be keeping house in style.

Kitchen cool

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Amadana's Tetris-like Cooking Timer (above) and Electric Pot
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Is your kitchen area looking a bit drab? Time to spruce things up with a bevy of cool new accessories from Amadana. You're probably well aware of the brand -- the ubiquitousness of all things Amadana is getting to a point where, if we're not mistaken, it's now an unstated rule that every Tokyo select shop must carry at least one Amadana calculator. It's fair to say, even, that no other brand has worked as hard at promoting the idea of cool design. Having conquered other parts of the household, they now turn their attention to the kitchen with what proves to be a rather stylish collection of tools for the foodie. Amadana starts by adding a sense of playfulness -- something not previously associated with the brand -- by way of their Cooking Timer. Acting as some sort of modern take on the traditional hourglass, time gets counted down as specks of Tetris-like shapes slowly make their descent to the bottom of the screen -- finally, video-game chic comes to the kitchen! Like an hourglass, you simply start the whole process again by flipping the timer over. Mix in the slim Cooking Scale, the Electric Pot with rotating base and the compact Citrus Juicer, and you're pretty much assured a kitchen that you'll want to show off. Most of the items come in black or white versions (we're quite partial to the white versions though we do realize that they do dirty up quite a bit faster) and they can be found at design-friendly stores throughout the city, as well as the Amadana shop in Omotesando Hills.


Eye of the cyclone

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If you're anything like us, the act of vacuuming is a sad activity indeed -- if the noise doesn't get you, then it's the tiresome act of having to go through those dark corners of the home you'd rather just leave alone. Thank goodness then for Metaphys' Cyclone Cleaner, which adds a touch of panache and smart functionality to an otherwise dull product category. Brainchild of Osaka-based designer Chiaki Murata, Metaphys has been wowing us with pretty much everything it's produced -- from the HONO electrical candle lights, which mimics the behavior of a real candle, to the Factory series of indoor-gardening accessories -- and the Cyclone Cleaner does not disappoint. The image here doesn't do it justice, because the act of opening up the folded vacuum immediately transforms it into a regular-size appliance, with the base carefully balancing the extended nozzle. It's a smart response to the need for compactness in small Japanese homes while, at the same time, offering for a larger, easy-to-use size. Hitting stores in mid-June, it will be available in three colors (white, black and orange). Alongside all of Metaphys' stunning designs, it can be viewed at their new Tokyo showroom/office (03-3446-8648), located at the Tokyo Design Center (5-25-19 Higashi-Gotanda, Shinagawa-ku).


Branching out

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Even On Design has has focused exclusively on the works of Japanese designers, we're willing to stretch the boundaries a bit to showcase the best that Japan has to offer. Case in point: Tokyo-based designer Jurgen Lehl. Having made his name mostly in fashion (he launched his first ready-to-wear line in Japan back in 1974), he has also produced a terrific series of stools and chairs. It's an eclectic assortment of oddly shaped pieces, and the feel and grain of the wood is celebrated in a way that gives each item a warm and natural presence -- perfect for the growing legions of LOHAS-followers! Lehl's collection of stools and chairs are available at his newly opened Babaghuri shop (3-1-7 Kiyosumi, Koto-ku; 03-3820-8825), or can be ordered from his online shop ( www.jurgenlehlshop.jp ).

Celebrating a centenarian

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Kokuyo is one of the biggest names in office supplies and furniture, and they've opted to celebrate their 100th anniversary with a few collaborations that add some modern design cred to the brand. We'll have to pass on the Erikonail glittering pens -- although, admittedly, they'd probably find much happy-happy joy in the hands of Office Ladys everywhere. We're more excited by the contributions of Yukimasa Matsuda and Groovisions. Matsuda's pair of notebooks -- "Beautiful Rainbow" and "Infinite Universe," with covers that reflect their appellation -- show a great deal of attention to detail, and have already been added to our growing shopping list of stationery supplies. As for Groovisions, although details have yet to be released, their graphically accentuated carrying case (pictured left), featuring the type of pop/travel imagery long associated with the design unit, is looking very nice indeed. Thanks, Kokuyo, and here's to another century of office-related goodness!

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