What do you get if you cross a champion of Japanese craft, a 19th-century Amsterdam police station and Miles Davis?

Jazz hands: live, in-showroom jazz concerts are as much a part of the Time & Style brand as are its sensitively designed, Japanese-crafted products

Anything but the blues: Time & Style | News

Jazz hands: live, in-showroom jazz concerts are as much a part of the Time & Style brand as are its sensitively designed, Japanese-crafted products

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I don’t often feel like I need a stiff drink, but this was something else.

As I sat in the audience at a private jazz concert in Amsterdam, listening to the improvised and fantastically loud stylings of two highly consummate Japanese musicians over from Tokyo – one on sax, the other on drums – the desire for alcohol became increasingly pressing. It was a highly kinetic performance, which made for a highly physical experience, felt not only in one’s ears, but also through the entire body. Feeling like I’d just done a workout, I made a beeline for the wine as soon as the performance was over.

Time & Style’s European showroom – housed in an adapted, 19th-century police station in Amsterdam – serves as a striking architectural platform for the brand’s furniture, ceramics and tableware, as well as a unique cultural venue

Anything but the blues: Time & Style | News

Time & Style’s European showroom – housed in an adapted, 19th-century police station in Amsterdam – serves as a striking architectural platform for the brand’s furniture, ceramics and tableware, as well as a unique cultural venue

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The location was craft-led Japanese design brand Time & Style’s European showroom and our host its owner, Ryutaro Yoshida. Possibly the most renaissance of all renaissance men in the industry, Yoshida has an endlessly inquisitive mind and a drive to Make Things Happen. If he weren’t so likeable, it would be annoying. Manufacturer, curator, music journalist, record-label owner and expert cook are just some of his accomplishments. Add to that architectural custodian. The brand’s Amsterdam space comes in the form of a landmark, 19th-century former police station, all redbrick and canal-side (what else?), replete with clocktower and crenellated roof garden. Yoshida certainly doesn’t do things by halves.

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Free-form

‘When jazz musicians are improvising, they’re creating the new,’ explains Yoshida as we take some Japanese tea in one of the building’s many high-ceilinged rooms, prior to the gig. ‘They have no rules.’ This musical free spirit is certainly at home at Time & Style, an apt metaphor not only for the non-textbook way in which its founder does things (he decided, for example, to open a showroom in the Dutch city after a single nighttime stroll, where the illuminated interiors of residents’ houses revealed to him a demonstrable affinity for design), but also for what the brand offers its customers: authentic Japanese design from the country’s most seasoned craftspeople.


‘Time & Style is a journey to find our own history’


You see, Yoshida is, in effect, running a preservation programme as much as he is a business. Having spent most of his twenties in Germany, he returned to Japan in the early 1990s with a new appreciation of his native country’s traditional material culture. His first store, in Tokyo, opened in 1997. From the outset, the mission was clear – to help revive Japanese craftsmanship by travelling the breadth of the country to discover traditional expert producers and invite them to collaborate with him. ‘Most of the artisans were hidden,’ Yoshida says. ‘No one was caring about this tradition. So I did. Time & Style is a journey to find our own history.’

Offering both customisation and one-off pieces – including working to architects’ and interior architects’ own design concepts – Time & Style has positioned itself as a highly competent and reliable project partner

Anything but the blues: Time & Style | News

Offering both customisation and one-off pieces – including working to architects’ and interior architects’ own design concepts – Time & Style has positioned itself as a highly competent and reliable project partner

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Call and response

Encompassing furniture, lighting, storage, as well as exquisite tableware and ceramics, the Time & Style collection is the result of a partnership with over 200 workshops from all over Japan, as well as the output of the company’s proprietary workshop, located in Hokkaido, the country’s north island. ‘We only want to create sensitive, simple products,’ Yoshida explains. ‘But nothing like Muji! The aim of our presence in Europe is to introduce not only quality Japanese products, but also Japanese service. We like to offer history, culture and, of course, tea.’

And time. Yoshida is big on storytelling. And why not? His products have narratives built into them, given the ultra-skilled hands that have joined forces with new technology to fashion them. As we talk, we’re sitting at a large table with a striking cast-bronze base. ‘The producer of this only made Buddhist statues before I met him,’ my host tells me. ‘But we saw the potential. It’s about identifying the possibilities of the techniques and production processes out there. Our designs follow on from that.’

As well as producing in its own workshop, Time & Style collaborates with over 200 talented craftspeople across Japan, who often bring a lifetime of making experience to the proverbial table

Anything but the blues: Time & Style | News

As well as producing in its own workshop, Time & Style collaborates with over 200 talented craftspeople across Japan, who often bring a lifetime of making experience to the proverbial table

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The primacy here of materials and of making rather than of form presents, it has to be said, a compelling proposition for architects in terms of customisation and even one-off pieces. ‘We’re able to find the right producers, the right craftspeople to create not only customised products, but also unique objects – also working, if desired, with the architect’s own design.’

Now, that’s jazz.

© Architonic

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