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Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2006
Barouche appliances, R Chair, DoCoMo N702iS, NEKKO flower vase, M+K Design's Sweet Icicle light
By JEAN SNOW
Special to The Japan Times
Be it for the home, while you're on the go, or even during some far away travels, this month's column has you covered with a selection of choice items that should satisfy all your stylish needs.
The products I cover in this column are usually easily available, even if the size of the wallet required to purchase them is another matter altogether. But to actually experience this next collection, you'll have to make an extra effort. The Barouche brand of electronic appliances and accessories, another beautiful series of stylish goods from REALFLEET (Amadana), can be found only in hotels. So, to actually use these you will need to stay in a place that has taken the step -- one that I wholeheartedly recommend they do -- to furnish its rooms with them. Sleek and white or brown, it shouldn't take long before they show up in some of the world's best boutique accommodations. Let's just hope that such hotels don't start losing more than their towels . . .
To call Yuichi Takeuchi's R Chair a chair is not quite right. The design takes minimalism to extremes: a sloped curb that needs to rest against a wall. The end result is an object that looks as if it could stand on its own as a sculpture, or some sort of home decoration, with the added benefit of being a place to sit. The R Chair is sold through TRICO, either from their online store (bytrico.com), their mYwaY store in Shinonome, Tokyo, or the smaller STOCK BY TRICO shop in Harajuku.
Bubbles and beeps
When it comes to mobile phones, it takes a lot to impress me -- I'm still completely enamored with Naoto Fukasawa's NEON, which you will have to pry from my dying hands. Leave it to Nendo's Oki Sato to up the ante with his "bubbly" new handset. The DoCoMo N702iS, part of the FOMA series of 3G phones, was a hit even before its release as a concept model. Now that it's on sale, you'll be hard-pressed to find a more attractive handset on the market (thanks to NEON's plans for its short-lived appearance in retail locations). More than just a gimmicky design, the bubble-like openings on the cover are actually functional, with each being used, in order from the top, as speakers, indication lights, the camera flash and the camera lens itself. Of course, it sports all the regular bells and whistles that we've come to expect from new phones, so rest easy if you fear you'll have to sacrifice beauty for function.
Pret a potter
I first noticed the work of the &design unit (comprised of four designers: Tetsu Miyazawa, Shigenori Ichimura, Keiichi Minamide and Maho Kusano) at last year's inaugural edition of 100% Design Tokyo. I was quite excited by what they had on display, only to be disappointed with the news (months later) that none of their creations were being produced. This summer finally saw the release of one of their products, the NEKKO flower vase, through the +d. brand. The shape gives prominence to the root structure of the flowers you place in the vase in a way both playful and attractive. Even better, it's a design that won't bust your budget, selling for just under 1,600 yen at most select shops.
Fire and ice
It might have been better bringing up M+K Design's Sweet Icicle light at the start of the summer, as its appearance quite possibly could have contributed to a cooler interior. The light's name is very appropriate, as the enclosed cathode tube literally looks as if it were frozen within an ice block, giving off an atmospheric blue or white glow (versions are available in both colors). The Sweet Icicle comes in two sizes, the smaller one (22 cm x 3 cm x 3 cm) going for 12,600 yen, with the larger model (28 cm x 45 cm x 45 cm) at 15,750 yen.