Furniture Shopping on Meguro’s Interior Dori
Newcomers to Tokyo often express exasperation at what they perceive as a lack of reasonably-priced, quality furniture and interior design stores. It is true that many of the big operators are to be found out in the far-flung suburbs and reclaimed fringes of Tokyo, and still others are in the high-end, high-priced Shinjuku area. So where to go when you are trying to furnish your new place and don’t really want to spend every waking moment with an Allen key and an instruction book? Meguro Dori in Shibuya-ku has a long line of decorator and furniture shops that stretches for several blocks and offers mid-century retro, antique and modern Scandinavian designs to please any taste.
Sometimes referred to as “Interior Dori,” this cluster of shops starts near the intersection of Yamate Dori and Meguro Dori. Many of the shops offer a shabby chic approach to Western design, with scrubbed white painted furniture and refectory tables, surrounded with now obsolete 20th century objects such as typewriters, record players and mood lamps. Chairs that resonate of the groovy 60s seem to be very popular in store after store, their round shapes or sharp angles cementing them forever in that time and place.
But Interior Dori has so much more to offer. Classic Scandinavian furniture made from light blonde woods have clean and simple lines that sit well with colorful Japanese ceramics and the rich silk fabrics vying for attention in the retro shops and custom sofa manufacturers. Most of this furniture is “foreigner sized,” which may necessitate careful measuring of your elevator and access doors in your apartment block before purchase.
There are also some very interesting arty shops that use and repurpose old pieces, sometimes Japanese, sometimes European, into new and quite funky designs. The prices in most of these ateliers are very reasonable. The shop fronts of these businesses are also worth looking at, as some have retained the bare wood of the traditional Tokyo store whilst others have used industrial materials and bold paint to stand out from the crowd.
One of the shops closest to Yamate Dori is Libur Sini, a contemporary furniture store that sells Southeast Asian wooden coffee tables, entry tables, love seats and planters. Nearby is the Acme furniture store, which has three floors of gardening goods and household furniture. Only meters away are several antique shops that seem to specialize in Imari ware and lovely old Japanese hibachis. Other ceramics and glassware from around the world can also be purchased, but one thing you will not find here is a bed.
Well known brands such as Pour Annick and Takumi also have branches on the street. The latter, a Japanese contemporary furniture designer, is especially worth a look, as it offers elegant, streamlined furniture that will work in most contemporary apartments. Nearby, the Japanese design company Chapter uses Japanese antiques to good effect, either by incorporating them into dining tables and storage units or by using them as display pieces alongside modern European pieces.
Another well known brand, Brunch, has six stores along this street. Each is just a little different to the next, selling contemporary takes on classic furniture, as well as some great garden furniture and tools.
Other stores, such as Meister, also offer modern versions of design classics in lighting and chairs, including the Eames chair. In fact, it is surprising just how many design classics were on sale, the Noguchi coffee table and Eames chair being just two.
The street also has several junk and second-hand stores which are loaded with decorator pieces, posters and signage, jewelry, and some clothing. There really is something for everyone here.
Meguro Dori interior shops generally open at 11 a.m. and some close on Wednesdays. The stores are not limited to the main street, with several dotted in the back blocks of the area. The Meguro Interior Shopping Community has produced a very handy map to the area, which is available in some shops and can be viewed by clicking here.