House Style With Terry Ellis

In the coming weeks we will share a collection of stories from Issue 2 of Modern House magazine, which looks at modern life inside and outside the House. Covering design, architecture, interior and lifestyle stories, the magazine is available both in the UK and internationally. Pick up your copy here.

Born in Jamaica and raised in London, Terry Ellis spends half of his year in Tokyo, where he leads the course of Fennica, an artisan brand that brings together fashion, furniture and ceramics from Japan and Europe. His own apartment expresses his taste for music, modernist design and handmade. Here he shares his style.

How would you describe the interior of your home?

Functional and typical of the old type of Tokyo apartments.

The kitchen is not integrated into the living room, as is normal with the new apartments here; the bathroom has the shower and bath combined in a wet room and part of the living room is a tatami room. Older apartments tend to be larger and often have large south-facing balconies, but the downside is that they don’t have the recent temblor protection standards.

I collect Mingei objects from Japan, as well as those purchased around the world by Japanese dealers and collectors. Mingei objects are traditional crafts made for everyday use, handmade in quantity by not-known artisans using local materials.

You are happiest here.…

Listening to records.

I like to look for vinyl records in Tokyo, especially in Shinjuku. There are still many record stores selling all genres of music, but the selection of jazz records offered here is great – I mainly buy American jazz and Japanese jazz.

If you could only save one thing, what would it be?

Probably a kimono made to order by a peripatetic Ainu seamstress traveling between Hokkaido and northern Honshu.

I met her to place my order, but I had almost no influence on the appearance of the finished kimono; she designs and produces the dress in the patterns and colors that she will definitely suit the customer. The color of my kimono is natural linen and hemp with a brown border and khaki/Gray protective patterns all over the back, which probably means that she sees me as a Southern sweet. There are also accents of Indigo floral pattern fabric applications in various places of the dress.

What was the last thing you bought for the House?

An Akari paper lamp for the tatami room.

I wanted a floor lamp and visited the Akari showroom in Tokyo to choose one. The choice was quick, because all but one of the high floor lamps were too big for the room. I have admired Noguchi for a long time and I had the chance to visit his sculpture garden in Shikoku before it was open to the public. I think his stone sculptures have great beauty and serenity, and his landscape works, such as Moerenuma Park in Sapporo, are inspiring.

The three best coffee table books?

I have a lot of museum catalogs, but no coffee table books.

If money wasn’t an issue, What Would you change?

I would remove the bulky medium-sized hotel building above the local station that partially obscures the view of Shinjuku from my balcony.

People are coming to eat – what are you going to cook?

There are many restaurants and bars in the area and at least 10 good places to eat nearby, serving everything from curry, sushi and ramen to Chinese, Italian, French and Korean cuisine.

I would order from the small Japanese restaurant on the street where I usually go for dinner, or meet people there to eat, and then I would walk 100 meters from the apartment to have a drink and a coffee.

What does a Sunday look like here?

I change the flowers and sometimes I move pictures.

The area is usually very busy on weekends with young people and families browsing the many shopping streets and the hundreds of vintage clothing stores in the area. All the small parks in the neighborhood are full of elderly people walking around or doing exercises.

The best things about this neighborhood?

It is historically a bohemian place, with many concert halls and many bars, restaurants and cafes.

There are many temples and shrines and many small parks here. In addition, there are many pedestrian shopping streets and a huge range of vintage clothing stores and good record stores and bookstores. It’s close to Harajuku and Shinjuku, where I work.

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