Archive for September, 2010

The apartment in today’s post could not be more different from the John Saladino designed home posted last week. Instead of perfectly curated classicism, we have a wild riot of color and pattern. Temo Callahan’s New York apartment was featured in the November 2008 Domino and is one of those spaces that people either love to hate or absolutely adore. Callahan himself was a director of the legendary Clarence House fabric company in the 1980s and 90s. He left and launched Studio Printworks, a small art based wallpaper company.  They commission artists and designers and make unique hand-printed papers. Check out their collaboration with artist Kiki Smith – it is amazing!

Callahan’s living room is covered in a wallpaper of one of their designs – Edo Pines - in a dramatic red colorway. Pines symbolize long life and happiness in Japan, so perhaps not a bad thing to have papering all your walls.

This living room has a little bit of everything! On the left there are typical Japanese lacquer tray tables stacked high, but they are done in a glossy modern white finish. In contrast, a polychrome Imari platter set in a tray table sits in the center of the room towards the back – something the design world seems to think of as kind of “grandma-ish”. The white iron garden chair has cushions upholstered in a Jed Johnson fabric  called (coincidentally?) Kamakura in the Indigo colorway.

Callahan is quoted as saying “No one looks bad in a red room”. But I think I might consider some of the other Edo Pines colorways.

Robin’s Egg



The bedroom, by contrast, is painted a dark soothing blue.

The headboard has been upholstered in the same fabric as the throw pillows on the living room couch to give the apartment a sense of continuity. The throw pillows on the bed look remarkably similar to a Japanese rayon shibori (tie-dye) fabric, but they are actually a very expensive linen/cotton from Jed Johnson called Medallion. (The Imperial colorway looks a bit darker in the swatch below).

Almost all the Asian blue and white porcelain seen in shelter magazines is Chinese, but this lamp is a converted Imari porcelain vase.

What I find so fascinating about it this apartment is the use of specifically Japanese patterns and objects (as opposed to Chinese for instance) as if he wanted to keep to a theme started by the wallpaper. With the preponderance of Chinese antiques and Chinoiserie readily available in the decorating world, it continues to be unusual to see Japanese items used.  I really wonder if he did it on purpose.

And as a follow up to Tuesday’s post, Studio Printworks has a fantastic wallpaper called “Kiku Kamon” in eight different colorways. Here it is below in my favorite “raisin”.

I wonder what the Emperor would think of having his kamon on a wallpaper…

Image Credits:1,2,7 & 9 photographed by Paul Costello for Domino, 4-6 & 10 Studio Printworks, 3, 8 Jed Johnson Home

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In a post on John Saladino last week I talked about mon or kamon, the heraldic crests of Japan.  As they are so prevalent in Japanese design, I thought it would be interesting to showcase some of the variety found. In general, they are stylized symmetrical patterns or small pictures placed inside a roundel.  They have a long history in Japan, used first by the aristocratic classes and later by the public at large. You can read more about them here

The 16 petal chrysanthemum is the kamon of the Emperor of Japan and its use by others was prohibited by law. Chrysanthemums with fewer petals could be used though. 

You still see many examples of this Imperial crest.  Here it is atop a torii gate.

One of the original uses of kamon related to war. They were placed on standards to identify troops in a  battle.  Here is a modern-day version – a Japanese battleship adorned with an imperial kamon. 

You can find kamon everywhere in Japanese antiques and decorative arts. 

The antique indigo cloth above has a traditional wisteria design with a kanji in the center. It is set against a background of sashiko embroidered traditional patterns. 


You can see a few historic kamon on this resist-dyed textile including the kamon of Tokugawa, the shogun who unified Japan. It has three wild ginger leaves set in the circle. 

Another common kamon is the butterfly – it is a good non-symmetrical figural example. 

In this brightly colored vintage kimono you can see many of the same kamon as on the indigo cloth above, including the Tokugawa (wild ginger leaves) kamon and the pine. 


This small silver toothpick holder has two kamon – an ume (plum) blossom and a tachibana (wild orange). 


While some items are decorated with actual kamon, others are often covered with simple patterns and scenes within the roundels, which are simply called mon. Notice here how the mon are actually etched realistic looking flowers in the rounds and not stylized representations like the kamon above. The design and form make me think that perhaps this Meiji period silver jewelry box was made for export. I was very tempted to buy it (inside it has three gorgeous dark lacquer drawers) but it was out of the price range for a casual impulse buy. 

Particularly in porcelain, you see many simplified and stylized (and plain old “made-up”) patterns. 



Here again we see fanciful designs in the circles, scattered all over this Imari pot. This kind of patterning is a favorite of mine – I think you can see why I called it “the polka dots of Japan”. I have a memory of two massive urns with a similar mon pattern placed near the entry to the Ralph Lauren store in the Rhinelander Mansion. I wonder if they are still there? 

Mon and kamon are seen not only in decorative arts, but in product branding and logos. Two of my favorites below: 


The retired logo of Japan Airlines is a crane kamon. What a graceful and beautiful logo and a shame that they changed it to this


And now for the cutest part of the post! Shu Uemura launched their wonderful cleansing oil in an adorable modern Harajuku version of kamon. Sadly, they are no longer available but I bet that the bottles and containers are probably wildly collectible on eBay.  Take a moment and compare these girls to the mon pattern on the silver jewelry box….

Image Credits:1-3 tamamushi; 4,6,9-13 me; 5,7 & 8 Japanese Free Clip Art; 14. Japan Probe; 15. Shu Uemura

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Today was the first day of three at the Heiwajima Antiques Fair.  A huge antiques show with hundreds of dealers, there is always something for everyone and today did not disappoint.

It was porcelain heaven.

It was soba choko heaven.

It was kimono heaven.

It was kokeshi doll heaven. Big…

…and small.

It was tansu heaven. (This is Akariya’s wonderful booth)

It was obi dome heaven.

It was scroll painting heaven.

It was indigo heaven.

The show continues tomorrow and Sunday and is open from 10-5. It is well worth a visit.

Quick Addendum…What I Bought

In response to an email, I wanted to follow up with my purchase (only 1 thing! shocking!) from Heiwajima. Because I was so busy thinking about the blog and taking photos, I didn’t really shop for myself. Also, I made a solemn vow to myself that the beach house I am furnishing back in the USA will not have any Japanese or Asian antiques, so I am not really in the market for much right now. That said, I did buy some beautiful silk ikat kimono pieces with a floral pattern in just that wonderful plum I love.  I am thinking it would make some great small cushions. (The color is less bright than it appears in the photo.)

Driving directions for folks in Tokyo: Head out on the Shuto #1 towards Haneda (as if you were going to the Kawasaki Costco). The Heiwajima exit is a few after Shibaura. Take the Heiwajima exit and continue straight for about a mile at most. There will be a left turn sign that says Ryutsu Center. Turn left there. Turn left again into the loading dock area and drive to the end. Turn left at the end and you will see P1 parking ahead on your right.   The M3 level sends you straight in and there is a good tonkatsu place for lunch.

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