December 15, 2023
Custom-made Japanese curtains: Ultimate function and style
Japanese interior decor is renowned worldwide for its seamless blend of function and style. We may appreciate tatami mats more for their humble rustic beauty, but this mainstay of traditional Japanese design also fulfills a more practical role, insulating against the cold and regulating moisture. Fusuma (sliding doors) and shoji (paper-covered sliding panels) provide an elegant means for moving between different areas of the home while making the most of limited space.
In the modern home, custom-made curtains have gained popularity based on the Japanese desire to meld beauty with practical necessity, along with feelings of dissatisfaction at the bland uniformity of mass-produced curtains.
COCO Interior is an exclusive boutique located in Tokyo’s trendy Nakameguro neighborhood that specializes in custom-made curtains. Just visiting COCO Interior is quite the experience, one perhaps indicative of the frequent contrast between Japanese exteriors and interiors. First, you enter a typical non-descript apartment building just off Meguro-dori, and take the elevator up to the fifth floor. From the outside, the door appears much like any other, apart from a small COCO Interior placard on the wall. When the door opens, however, you are faced with a dazzling display of fabric, blinds and curtains—a veritable Aladdin’s Cave of colors and textures.
COCO Interior has been providing custom-made curtains to discerning customers for close to 40 years, but to term this boutique a mere “curtain store” really misses the point. Unlike the “get you in, get you out” approach one finds at busy under-staffed department stores, COCO offers full personal consultations with professional interior decorators. Each session typically lasts two to three hours, allowing the customer to move at their leisure, examining the many options on display throughout the showroom while they discuss their design preferences and the practical needs of their home. Due to the in-depth nature of these consultations, they are limited to three per day and must be booked in advance.
Just a quick glance at the wall displays reveals COCO’s vast selection of patterns and styles, from the top textile brands in Japan (Fujie, MANAS, Kawashima Selkon) and around the world (Christian Fischbacher, William Morris, Hodsoll McKenzie). Customers are encouraged to select their ideal combination of materials, based on preference and price range.
The next step is a home visit from the interior decorator. The team insists on home visits to ensure that all measurements are precise and so that factors perhaps not considered by the client are taken into account. For one, the amount of sunlight that a given room receives at different times during the day might impact decisions on the type of fabric required to invite more or less light. International residents who have recently arrived in Japan may be surprised to discover how early the sun rises here (shortly after four in the morning mid-summer!), requiring the right type of curtains in the bedroom to ensure a full night’s sleep.
Curtains can also make a big difference in temperature regulation within a home, keeping the heat in during winter and out during the summer—helping to reduce electricity bills. Through its various affiliated store locations, COCO is able to provide home visits throughout most of Japan.
COCO’s interior decorators also offer the client aesthetic advice on curtains that will accentuate the interior of their home. All staff members have years of experience providing such services to Japanese apartments, homes and businesses, and have a keen awareness of what brings out the best in Japan’s interior spaces. That said, some international residents may fancy more exotic shades and patterns that remind them of home, which is a desire that the interior decorators at COCO are happy to fulfill using the broad fabric selection at their disposal.
As well as curtains, COCO can provide vertical and horizontal Akarina blinds that can be custom-made to any desired size. These blinds, which are designed and manufactured in Japan, are made of a lightweight resin that is flexible yet strong, making them much more durable than standard aluminum blinds. Akarina blinds also possess the near-magical property of allowing plenty of warm natural light to flow into a room while keeping the interior invisible from the outside. It is possible to have these blinds custom-printed or to use a projector at night to display images or even videos from windows, a feature that is popular with businesses looking to maximize opportunities for cost-effective advertising.
COCO’s full-service approach means that their custom-made curtains will generally appeal more to long-term international residents of Japan than overseas tourists. Following the consultation at the boutique and the home visit, it generally takes about two weeks for the curtains to be made and delivered. However, visitors to Japan can find original bottle covers fashioned using fabric from COCO on sale with bottles of Tokyo’s own Toshimaya sake at Haneda Airport’s duty-free stores. Each sake cover resembles a kimono or samurai hakama.
Back at the COCO boutique in Nakameguro, director Yasuko Koide is always eager to share her passion for curtains and beautiful interior Japanese spaces with customers who have moved to Japan from other countries. “Curtains can be whatever you want,” she explains.
“You can use them to make a big impression, as something that really draws the eye. Or they can be something much more subtle, accentuating the room almost invisibly, but beautifully.”
What seems certain is that visitors to COCO Interior will leave the boutique not only with a set of curtains to be proud of for many years, but also with a pleasant memory of efficient service by professionals who really care about the products that they provide.
To reserve an appointment, please contact COCO Interior directly by telephone (0120 499 455) or via the inquiry form on the company’s website.
MF Building 501,3-14-8 Kamimeguro, Meguro- ku