Toward an Age of Design
The Ariake Showroom of Otsuka Kagu, Ltd. in
Tokyo’s Odaiba district is four times
as large as the Tokyo Dome baseball stadium.
In this vast space, furniture and interior décor
from around the world are on display. I was
amazed to hear that on weekends as many as 3,000
people visit this showroom in a single day,
and 70% of them actually make purchases. The
Otsuka Kagu showroom really does have a firm
grip over wealthy folk in the Tokyo metropolitan
While the household electric appliance distribution
industry is in the midst of intense price competition,
Otsuka Kagu is developing a stable business
without resorting to price cuts. How enviable!
From the point of view of household electric
appliance makers, that space is enough to make
the mouth water. Electric appliance makers have
made efforts to tap this sales route, but they
have all fizzled out. And now, conversely, there
is even a feeling of animosity toward Otsuka
When one considers the cutthroat competition
that exists in the household electric appliance
industry, though, perhaps this is only natural.
It is quite intolerable that while Otsuka Kagu
shows us the business model and satisfies customers,
the industry is in complete disarray.
Otsuka Kagu’s customer stratum really
is something special. In extreme terms, it is
probably no exaggeration to say that every wealthy
person in Japan is a customer of the company.
Furniture and interior décor are things
that will last a lifetime. Since they will be
used for at least a few decades, the wealthy
especially want only the best. Indeed, they
are going to turn up their noses at proposals
that focus only on price. They want to carefully
scrutinize good products from around the world.
Anyway, in collaboration with our magazine,
Home Theater Phile, an exhibition called “Homes
with a Movie Theater: Interior Styling 2008”
was held at Otsuka Kagu’s Ariake Showroom
for nine days from May 3 to 11. Twenty-two “room
scenes,” centering on the theme of “television
as theater,” were set up on the different
floors of the showroom to appeal to visitors.
Over the nine-day period, 14,000 people visited
the exhibition. Although the number of visitors
dropped on weekdays, on the Saturdays and Sundays
there was a full house. The 250 coordinators
at the Ariake Showroom apparently can respond
to 3,000 visitors a day. Well, I really did
admire the expert way in which they handled
the visitors with smiling faces. The 4,000 couples
who visited the exhibition were all well-heeled,
and, to my surprise, more than 70% of them made
purchases while they were there.
Partly because of the impact of events, television
stands sold quite well. In addition, attention
focused on the thin televisions of the cooperating
companies--Hitachi, Sharp, Pioneer, and Matsushita.
Indeed, I am told that there were a few customers
who even declared that they would purchase Matsushita’s
103-inch model. One customer also purchased
the whole interior that was proposed for a 30-tatami-mat
living room in a villa in Karuizawa. I couldn’t
help but be amazed at the awesomeness of the
When thin televisions are seen as part of the
interior, it seems to me that some consideration
should be given to design. As well as the cooperating
companies, a large number of engineers also
visited the exhibition (there were 98 industry-related
visitors), and no doubt they were given plenty
of food for thought. It can be said with certainty
that we have now entered an age in which televisions
also are required to have a design that fits
in well with a coordinated living space.