Ever since it opened in 2001, Tokyo interiors shop Cibone has been a beacon for fresh design and imaginative retailing. The shop was the main attraction at Bell Commons, a landmark building designed by Kisho Kurokawa in 1976. When the property’s owners announced they were planning to demolish and rebuild, Cibone’s founder Masaki Yokokawa (pictured) was forced to look for a new home. “We were thinking about renovating anyway,” says Yokokawa, “We’d been there for 14 good years and built up layers of history.” He ended up choosing a bright, open space just across the road on the second floor of a brand new building.
The shop opened in July with one of Cibone’s famous parties (dress code: white). “We haven’t changed our identity,” says Yokokawa. “We’re still about good things but we’ve piled up years of experience. When we started we were thinking about bringing things from overseas to Japan. Now we’re thinking about going in the other direction, selling more products made in Japan so it’s half and half.” Cibone still carries select pieces from the Dutch brand Moooi and also stocks towels from Imabari and wooden boxes handmade in Matsumoto.
The new Cibone is a leaner version, tightly edited and styled with flair, blending a Workstead floor light from Brooklyn with a dresser from Danish company Gubi. “We’ve narrowed the selection down and blended everyday products with vintage and unique pieces.” The shelves are also filled with kitchenware, Japanese ceramics, toiletries and a selection of clothes from the likes of Knott and Taro Horiuchi, plus shoes from New Balance and E Porselli.
Some of the signature pieces from the old shop, such as Piet Hein Eek’s reclaimed wood table, are still there. But Yokokawa’s eye is also drawn to new talent. Recent arrivals include the Beetle chair by Danish-Italian duo GamFratesi and industrial stacking chairs from French design group Ciguë. Yokokawa, whose company Welcome also runs the popular design shop Today’s Special, says that the Japanese market has changed since Cibone opened. “Design is more about lifestyle now. People don’t just want the name of the designer: they want to know what’s behind the design.”
Based in a workshop in south London, British carpenter Liam Treanor set up his business in 2011. He’s quickly made his name using traditional British woodworking techniques such as drawboring, making furniture that is extremely solid but light and beautiful in appearance. This September during the London Design Festival he will introduce a new range of furniture: the Santiago collection. This will appear alongside the two already available: the 2011 and the Interbau collection, which includes this Egon clothes rack.
As the name of the range suggests, the pieces are all heavily influenced by modernist architecture (Interbau was Walter Gropius’s Berlin housing development). Treanor likes the “functional, machine-like aesthetic of modernist architecture”, which he says was “designed for pure function without being devoid of beauty”. Just like the Egon.
The name is a good clue to what makes this lamp by Barcelona manufacturer Marset special. FollowMe is a lightweight portable lantern, perfect for outdoor use. Designed by Valencia-based Inma Bermúdez (who has worked for both Lladró and Ikea), its soft glow is a great substitute for candlelight on summer evenings and the oak handle makes it smart enough to keep indoors during the winter. “Marset is known for its excellence in technology but with this luminaire I wanted to escape from the look of hi-tech,” says Bermúdez on the charming lo-fi design.
Henley Halebrown Rorrison (HHbR), the London-based architecture studio, has designed a building that offers a solution to the capital’s housing problem. This residential construction in north London, called 1-6 Copper Lane, is the city’s first co-housing project.
The six houses contained within the development all look inwards onto a shared courtyard. It is surrounded by a garden with the common parts located below, including the hall and laundry facilities. Tenants made it clear that they wanted to be able to share a vegetable patch and workspace and have a chat by the washing machine, while also having their own living space to retreat back to. “We didn’t want to force communality,” says Ken Rorrison, one of the directors in charge of the project at HHbR, “but we wanted to encourage it while maintaining that crucial balance between privacy and communality.”