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Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2006


Hisanobu Tsujimura's Kan chair, the En bench, Muji's form-fitting sofa, Ken Watanabe's Linkage Stool

Special to The Japan Times

Due to a spate of out-of-town excursions and hiking expeditions, lately I've felt the need to just sit down and enjoy moments of lounging bliss. Here is a selection of chairs, benches and sofas that not only act as elegant interior additions to the home, but more importantly, will encourage you to take a load off.

Bent back

Nisanobu Tsujimura's Kan chair

Living in Japan, you become accustomed to sitting on the floor, usually on tatami mats, and often on some sort of zabuton cushion or legless chair. Even though legless Japanese chairs are nothing new, the Kan chair from designer Hisanobu Tsujimura manages to break the mold and offer a stylish new twist to a traditional mainstay. Produced by manufacturer Tendo Mokko, it's a lovely example of how a chair's frame can be pared down to its essential form, and still be functional. The lack of symmetry in the arm rests adds an interesting touch, and makes this a product that is sure to stand out wherever it gets placed.


Swedish minimalism

The En bench

I've always loved benches, and even though they tend to be a rarity when it comes to interior furnishings, I do occasionally spot nice ones that are made for the home. Such is the case of the En bench, designed by Yoshiharu Shimura for Swedish maker Balzar Beskow AB. Though some may find it too austere, it's just this characteristic that I find so appealing, with the simplicity of its design shining through. The back side forms the back legs, which don't match up with the front legs, creating an attractive, and surprisingly balanced, overall appearance. The standard beech/birch model is also available in oak by request.


Cuddly cube

Muji's form-fitting sofa

Muji has introduced a smaller version of its "form-fitting sofa," a square bean bag that is sure to be a comfortable, body hugging, lounge experience, judging from the number of times I've plopped onto one of its elder siblings while visiting a Muji store. The smaller version (55 cm x 55 cm x 38 cm) goes for 12,000 yen, which you can then accessorize with a selection of four covers in beige, charcoal gray, light brown and dark brown. The bigger version (65 cm x 65 cm x 43 cm) goes for 12,600 yen, with the cover costing an extra 4,200 yen. It is pretty much what you would expect from a bean-bag chair, but the cubic form gives it a pleasing shape that is light years away from the sack-of-potato image of old.


Folded throne

Ken Watanabe's Linkage Stool

Let's finish our roundup this month with the Linkage Stool by Ken Watanabe. Not to be confused with the popular actor, Watanabe is a designer to watch, according to Wallpaper* magazine's recent design directory issue, after being a finalist at the International Furniture Design Fair Ashikawa 2005 competition. The wooden stool's components "link" together in what looks like an origami construct. It's a beautiful piece that would suit any room.


* * * * *

If you enjoy the items showcased in this column, chances are you'll find a lot to like at the Good Design Presentation 2006, which celebrates 50 years of presenting design awards this summer. The annual gathering starts Wednesday and runs until Aug. 26 at Tokyo Big Sight (East Hall 4-6). With over 50,000 visitors expected, this celebration of the best in design is also the second round of screening (the first took place in June) for finalists in the Good Design Awards, which will be announced in October. What makes this event so appealing is that you get to really experience the process, looking on as the jury members actively seek out innovation in the submitted entries. Be on the frontline of what promises to be a design extravaganza.

Admission is 1,000 yen. Open: Aug. 23 (6 p.m.-9 p.m.), Aug. 24 (10 a.m.-6 p.m.), Aug. 25 (10 a.m.-8 p.m.), and Aug. 26 (10 a.m.-4 p.m.).

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