Tokyo is a desirable location for international designers and retailers: it offers a large, sophisticated market with discerning tastes and an acute appreciation of brand value. No wonder then that the city’s prestigious neighborhoods are outposts of most of the world’s luxury goods retailers and international fashion houses.
Though Japan consumers have, despite strong brand loyalty, drifted away from their once slavish consumption of high end European labels, in a culture defined in part by its refined aesthetics, good design remains as desirable as ever and can be seen in all facets of life here. Examples of good international design can be evidenced throughout Tokyo – most strikingly in its contemporary architecture, but also in its stores. For the shopper, expertly edited collections of modern designer furniture pieces and interior objects can be found at Tokyo’s MoMA store, at The Conran Shop and at hhstyle.com.
New York’s Museum of Modern Art has one of the finest collections of modern art and design in the world. There are only three MoMA Design Stores in the world and one of them is in Tokyo. In 2007, the MoMA Design Store opened on Level 3 of the stylish Gyre Building – also home to COMME des GARÇONS’ Trading Post – on the corner of Omotesando and Cat Street. The MoMA store is suitably white and airy, a light filled gallery space that houses classic furniture and interior pieces from masters such as Noguchi and Fukasawa, Aalto and Castiglioni, Starck and Eames.
There are MoMA art reproductions for sale as well as MoMA signature items, costume jewelry, kids puzzles and toys, books, accessories and desirable things for the office and home. It’s a great place to find a stylish gift or souvenir.
The Conran Shop was founded in London in 1973 by Sir Terence Conran, founder of London’s revolutionary Habitat interiors stores of the 1960s. Conran Shops have been opened in the UK, USA, France and Japan. There are two in Tokyo: in Shinjuku and Marunouchi. The former was opened in 1994 in the Shinjuku Park Tower Building, also home of the immaculate Park Hyatt, while the latter opened in 1996 and occupies two floors of the elegant Maru Biru in Marunouchi. Both showrooms are spread over two levels and display a carefully edited range of indoor and outdoor furniture, homewares and cool gift objects. The Shinjuku store also features a cafe.
Conran shops feature classic and contemporary furniture, lighting and home accessories – all beautifully coordinated and merchandised – and everything from men’s toiletries to aromatic candles, Moleskine laptop cases to Alessi kettles and Bialetti coffee makers. Conran is a great place to tastefully outfit that Tokyo apartment.
Since leaving the Omotesando area in 2008 – a store designed by SANAA and a striking geometric bunker-like annex designed by Tadao Ando – hhstyle.com has occupied large premises on Aoyama Dori, north of Gaien-Nishi Dori in the Escorter Aoyama building with its distinctive high-tech lattice-like balustrade. Inside is a classic selection of pieces from mid-century modern masters to modern contemporary furniture, from Aeron to Eames Executive chairs; pieces by Ron Arad, Jasper Morrison and Arne Jacobsen; Noguchi and Eileen Grey sofas. The store also has some choice tables and desks as well as a nice selection of designer books and toys and quirky gift items such as Marc Newson coat hangers and Alessi SANAA neko watches.
For collectors of minitatures from the Vitra Design Museum, hhstyle.com also has a selection of model chairs. The shop itself is much like a museum of design masterpieces. This is the place to come and fit out the offices of your next start up.