I never planned to spend the entire day in the Shibuya district, it just happened that way. I started my morning with a quick breakfast and family pictures in the amazing garden at our hotel, the New Otani. Then I went on to meet Chiemi Akiyama, vice president of Colorworks, a Japanese company that sells paint and educated Japanese people about how to use it. Even though 90% of Japanese walls are covered in wallpaper, which sells at a rate of 700,000,000 square meters each year, Chiemi presents about 30 seminars each year to audiences from 30 to 300 people, all of whom are interested in learning how to use paint and how to use color.
Chiemi and I have a mutual friend, Erika Woelfel of the Colwell Color Studio, so we each knew a little about the other when we met. We spent an enjoyable half-hour learning more and then she put us both in a cab to go trend-spotting in downtown Tokyo.
We began in the Aoyama area in a store called Art & Interior. This fun little hole in the wall store is filled with whimsical plastics of all kinds. There was neon-look tableware and a TV of 13 inches or designed to look as though it is smiling. The Biolite Eon lamp and the now ubiquitous Louis Ghost chair added a layer of cool design to the shop.
Spiral Market was one of my favorite stops. Modern Japanese designs mixed with like-minded imports from companies like Iitala and traditional items from Japanese culture. I focused on the Japanese items because the designs were great. Case in point: coffee cups with handles shaped like the numbers; chose 0 through 9.
After lunch at Yanmo, where the salmon was wonderful and the brown tea relaxing, we jumped into another cab and got out in the Shibuya district, known for it’s high energy, youth-oriented point of view.
At Franc Franc, color ruled in multiple floors filled with fun and practical products. Favorite picks: Vases made of flat glass tubes, curved into a sideways U with a hole on the top; a room divider/screen of clear plastic that looks like glass block. Lazy Susan offered a combination of handbags and wallets, picture frames and dinnerware. Very fun. I loved the handbag made of silver metallic ruffled tiers and the Lilac colored cup and saucer set that reminded me of folded paper. Loft had shower heads in more colors than I have ever seen before.
I wanted to spend more time looking at home décor, and I will when I come back to Tokyo, which I know I will. But I had to head back to my family. Biz was waiting to take me to Shibuya to see all the clothes she wanted to buy.