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The Japanese design brands to have on your radar

It’s time to shop design-led Japanese homeware and furniture that champions tradition, balance and natural materials

desk and screen by japanese furniture brand ariake

Lovers of Japanese design have a treat in store, as more and more of the country’s innovative brands are making waves in the UK. Here, we look at four of the most exciting new names...


Ariake’s creative director Gabriel Tan has brought together a roster of international names, including Anderssen & Voll, Note Design Studio, Norm Architects and Shin Azumi, to create a nuanced hybrid of Asian and Scandinavian design. True to its belief that strong working relationships are the foundation of good products, the inaugural 30-piece collection, launched in 2018, was created over the course of two intensive workshops that saw designers, craftspeople and Tan living, working and eating together. Pieces are made in two factories in the furniture-producing town of Morodomi in Saga Prefecture. Although Ariake has a global outlook and strong ties to northern Europe, the standout pieces are those imbued with Japanese spirit, such as Tan’s ‘Skyladder’ shelves and Staffan Holm’s ‘Kumiko’ cabinets. ariakecollection.com

staffan holm’s ‘kumiko’ cabinet for ariake
 Staffan Holm’s ‘Kumiko’ cabinet for Ariake
gabriel tan’s ’skyladder’ shelves for ariake
Gabriel Tan’s ’Skyladder’ shelves for Ariake
Sebastian Stadler


Established in 1928 as Showa Bentwood Factory, a company that specialised in wood-bending, Maruni went on to become one of the first Japanese companies to develop mass production techniques. In 2008, a new chapter began with the ‘Hiroshima’ collection by Naoto Fukasawa, which presented a modern aesthetic while honouring Japan’s heritage with wood crafts. Since 2011, Jasper Morrison has contributed to shaping the brand’s clean-lined, timeless style with ranges such as ‘Fugu’ and ‘Lightwood’. maruni.com

't' chairs by jasper morrison for maruni
’T’ chairs by Jasper Morrison for Maruni

1616 / arita japan

Named after the year and location in which the art of pottery was first introduced to Japan by the Koreans, 1616 / arita japan makes contemporary ceramics with the same traditional materials and techniques used in the region for centuries. Its distinctive clay, made with crushed stone, results in pieces that are strong and heat-resistant yet beautifully thin and light. Designed by creative director Teruhiro Yanagihara, the signature ‘Standard’ collection allows for different combinations and functions. Dutch duo Scholten & Baijings have also developed a line for the brand, ‘Colour Porcelain’. Both ranges throw new light on an ancient Japanese tradition, mixing Asian craftsmanship with European culture. 1616arita.jp

table with ceramic tableware by 1616  arita japan
Ceramic tableware by 1616 / arita japan
1616 / arita japan
'standard' collection by teruhiro yanagihara for 1616  arita japan
’Standard’ collection by Teruhiro Yanagihara for 1616 / arita japan
1616 / arita japan

Karimoku New Standard

Karimoku New Standard was founded in 2009 by leading manufacturer Karimoku, which traces its origins back to 1940 when founder Shohei Kato set up a small wood workshop. These roots have shaped the contemporary offshoot, which marries skilled craftsmanship and advanced technology with a progressive aesthetic. Responsible production lies at its heart; sustainable hardwoods are sourced from carefully managed forests and much of the collection is made from trees that would usually be discarded or used for paper pulp. For the latest collection, designers such as Big Game and Christian Haas have created pieces in harmony with the brand’s bold minimalism. karimoku-newstandard.jp

christian haas' 'elephant' sofa and pouf for karimoku new standard
Christian Haas’ ’Elephant’ sofa and pouf for Karimoku New Standard
Karimoku New Standard

This article first appeared in ELLE Decoration August 2020

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