Jiun ho may have been born in Malaysia and lived in the United States for decades, but his spiritual home has always been Japan. The creator last visited the country in February 2020, just before the pandemic brutally cut off travel around the world. âI came back to San Francisco and the door closed behind me,â he says.
The very first time he went to Japan, he was 9 years old. âMy parents promised that if I got straight in school they would take me,â Ho recalls. Memorably, the family’s arrival was Tokyo Disneyland opening day in 1983, a dream. candy color come true for most children. But his interests, even then, skewed a less ephemeral pop, a more sustainable profession. âI was fascinated by culture, history, attention to detail, aesthetics,â he recalls. âIt changed my whole world and planted the seeds that would lead me to become a designer. “
Ho started his eponymous design company in 2000. To mark the company’s recent 20th anniversary, he again turned to his first love, Japan. The current collection of furniture, textiles and lighting by designer, JHVI, draws inspiration from five Japanese regions close to his heart: the âart islandâ of Naoshima; the picturesque fishing villages of Ise-Shima, where pearls are gathered from the sea; Kanazawa, known for its lacquerware, ceramics, historic gardens, and samurai and geisha quarters; Kyoto, which he describes as the “Mecca of traditional Japanese culture”; and, in neon contrast, Tokyo, the ultramodern metropolis that has surprises in store around every corner.
âThese are the places I gravitate to again and again,â Ho explains. âThis is where I feel most at peace.â
The JHVI collection promises to bring the same serenity, the same balance and the same style, as well as a touch of wabi-sabi-in any designer’s project. The numerous asymmetrical handles on the strikingly graphic front of the Omote cabinet, for example, subtly refer to the works of art by Isamu Noguchi. Horai coffee tables, on the other hand, feature a curved top with natural edges made from 12 layers of organic lacquer set on a base carved from a single piece of black marble. âIt’s natural tree sap,â Ho says of the hairspray. “The meticulous layering process results in a shine that is somewhere between a matte and a gloss, it’s almost like a satin finish.” The longer the part is used, the more patina builds up.
Courtesy of Jiun Ho
The Kiyomizu dining table, inspired by a Kyoto temple with intricate woodwork using almost no nails, “has a very small finger knuckle detail,” says Ho. “The end product looks so simple. , but it’s quite complicated to make. Another table, the Torii, takes its hat off to an iconic motif found throughout Japan: the gateways marking the passage from the mundane to the sacred in Shinto shrines. And the Omikuji coffee table takes its name from the fortunes written on strips of paper, then tied around the tree branches of Shinto shrines. An angular abstraction of these paper wishes forms the table top, while the glass base – echoing Hiroshi SugimotoThe ethereal staircase of Go’o Shrine in Naoshima mimics the tactile, translucent surface of glacier ice.
Tables are among the designer’s personal favorites, but the collection also includes a sectional sofa with clean lines, a bed in homage to the famous Japanese architect. Tadao Ando, a pendant lamp that recalls a burst of flowers and contemporary lamps that evoke the traditional lanterns of Buddhist temples. All the pieces in the collection combine the practicality of furniture with the pure beauty of sculpture. âArt shouldn’t just be a painting on the wall,â Ho says. âPeople should be able to interact with it every day. “
Considering the craftsmanship that permeates each item, these are bullion coins. The accompanying textiles in the collection celebrate the same qualities at a much more affordable cost. Materials range from nubby cottons and loop pile blends to organza linens and fluffy mohair wools, all rendered in intricate yet understated palettes. The color names alone evoke Japanese imagery: Bonsai, Daikon, Mochi, and Jade. The soft yellows and oranges of the Geisha Sakura embroidered jacquard delicately translate the flowering of the cherry blossoms. âSome are high-performance fabrics; some are reversible, âsays Ho. All are readily available in the United States.
âObviously, our industry is going through some major supply chain issues right now,â says the designer. âBut the good news is that in addition to our fabric inventory, we can fulfill most furniture orders in standard sizes and finishes. Personalized items, made to order in Japan, will naturally take a little longer.
Future collections will continue to reinterpret the richness of Japanese culture for modern decoration. Ho hints that he is working with a local craftsman in the Bay Area to create new designs that will incorporate the thick glaze and textural imperfections of the raku ceramic. And as soon as possible, he plans to return to the source of so much of his inspiration. Fingers crossed, he’ll be back in his beloved Japan in January.
This story is a paid promotion and was created in partnership with Jiun ho.
Home Page Photo: Jiun Ho’s Ando Bed | Courtesy of Jiun Ho