The Japanese have long endured crowded cities and scarce living space, with homes so humble a scornful European official once branded them rabbit hutches. But in recent years, Japanese architects have turned necessity into virtue, vying to design unorthodox and visually stunning houses on remarkably narrow pieces of land. In the process, they are also redefining the rules of home design.
Tokyo - a city on the edge of Asia, is increasingly an international metropolis. It was here that, in the spring of 1992, the first full - scale complex of interior design showrooms of its kinds in Japan, came into being - the TOKYO DESIGN CENTER. It functions as a meeting place for designers, manufacturers and users to enable people to incorporate design into their own lives as fully as possible. Here they can select the finest in contract and residential furniture, carpets, floor coverings, fabrics, wall coverings, lighting and accessories from Europe, America and Asia.
Tommy Kullberg (IKEA) has seen the inside of a few Japanese homes lately and if he has learnt one thing it is that they tend to be, well, rather small. The soft-spoken Swede heading Ikea's return to Japan and his team have visited more than 100 local residences to take notes and try to avoid a repeat of the group's disastrous first foray into the world's number two retail market. Ikea has stores in more than 30 countries but none more challenging than Japan, where even the largest furniture retailer in the world has had to adapt its winning formula with a new store outside Tokyo. It first came to Japan in 1974 with a local partner but failed to win over Japanese consumers and withdrew 12 years later.
"Disneyland is the biggest competitor" Tommy Kullberg (IKEA Japan)