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Thursday, April 23, 2009
Stylish ways to organize clutter, keep time, track burned calories and send letters
By JEAN SNOW
A stylish plug
Certainly a common sight for any technophile is a floor covered in wires gathering dust in an unsightly manner. The electric-outlet and extension-cord combo of Japanese brand Monos' Plugo will help put your wired life in order and add a flash of style to the mix. Equipped with three outlets and a 2.5-meter-long cord, the doughnut-like shape of the Plugo makes it easy to hang instead of dropping on the floor. Choose from a generous array of colors — red, cafe-au-lait, light green, yellow, blue-purple, white and black — to coordinate with your home's interior color scheme. Plugos are sold for ¥3,675, but a campaign running from next month until July will get you 11 for the price of 10.
Running on Yamanote time
The unconventional watches from Japanese company Sea Hope have taken the international blogosphere by storm over the past few years — influential blog Boing Boing is a huge fan — and that success has now led to the opening of the brand's own shops under the Two O Two moniker. The latest one opened a few weeks ago as part of the new Echika shopping area inside bustling Ikebukuro Station, and the company celebrated in part with the launch of a new series of watches inspired by a sight immediately familiar to riders of Tokyo's Yamanote Line. A collaboration with Japan Railways, the collection of four watches replicates station signs seen on the platforms of four different stations: Ikebukuro, Shinjuku, Ebisu and Shinagawa. The watch not only imitates the signs' shape and text, right down to the track number, but also displays the message "Densha ga mairimasu" ("The train is arriving") each time you press a button to check the time (except for the Ikebukuro version, which, for some reason, doesn't include the message). Each version is priced at ¥23,100 with a leather band and ¥25,200 with a metal one.
Jogging is all the rage these days, but in a city like Tokyo, even if you don't catch the running bug, you are probably walking a lot. To help keep track of just how much distance you're covering on a regular basis, Seiko last year introduced the Slim Stick pedometer. The tiny gadget not only keeps track of distance and time, but also provides the amount of calories and fat you burn. Data can be stored for up to seven days and accessed through the device's LCD screen. Priced at ¥5,775, this Good Design Award winner runs on a lithium battery that lasts up to eight months (a special set for ¥6,980 includes a clip strap from Abitax). The original lineup of ice silver, cassis pink and soleil gold was recently updated to include five new models: piano black, zebra gold, zebra white, zebra pink and zebra violet.
The bird at the door
Admittedly, I'm a sneaker kind of guy, but if I were a more serious shoe-wearer and in the market for a shoehorn, without question, the Kotori would be my pick. Designed by Kaichiro Yamada for H Concept's +d line of select goods, the Kotori's ("small bird" in Japanese) appeal is an aesthetic one, and it only takes one look to understand why. The elegant wood design is meant to look just as nice when hanging unused in your home's entryway as it is when in use. The Kotori comes in a dark or light pattern, each version retailing for ¥5,000.
Ribbons of love
The art of letter-writing may be a dying one, but special occasions do still warrant it. Now Kochi Project puts a new twist on the old standby, the envelope, to tempt us back. The Alphabet Mizuhiki envelope riffs on the Japanese tradition of giving cards with ribbons made of rice paper, one form of a practice known as mizuhiki. The premade Kochi versions use the ribbon to spell out your greeting directly: Three versions with the words "love," "good" and "happy" are currently available for ¥3,150 as well as a set of four that each has one of the letters of "love."