| Here you will see some pictures of
Christmas cards sent to us by Keiji Nagai
in past few years.
Each year at Christmas, he makes a greeting
card printed with a picture of himself surrounded
by his chairs different from the preceding
cards. So he has already introduced hundreds
of his collection in his Christmas cards.
Keiji is a cousin to my husband Den Okochi.
Keiji is famous as an interior-coordinator
who owns nearly one thousand chairs of contemporary
He is the director of how to furnish
Yoyokaku, and he is the person who always
denies my bad taste of decorating Yoyokaku.
With a grim face he scolds me: Harumi, why
don't you remove these ugly devises from
this beautiful room? Those ugly devises are
always necessary things for the staying guests,
like telephone, TV set, lamp and stationery!
Then I fight against him. Sometimes he wins,
other times I win.
To introduce him, I would like to quote
an article from a magazine . The original
article was in Japanese. Please forgive me
for the poor translation.
BRUTUS 2000/15/AUGUST published by MAGAZINE
Special edition "100 chairs 100
The serial collector written by Yudai Tachikawa
A chair attracts me not only with its
of sitting on it, but also with its
as a sculpture.
A chair is a narcotic. Once it sneaks
into your consciousness, it will never free
your mind from it. But usually, your finance
or space to store them would harness your
Here is a man, Keiji Nagai, who has been obsessed by chairs for more
than 30 years. The name "Nagai"
has become widely known in the furniture
business. Who is Nagai? What does he aim
On a quiet street in Fukuoka City. One room
of an apartment house is his studio. Stepping
into this some 60 square-meter room, I could
not believe my eyes. A numerous collection
of table-wares, books, clocks, industrial
designs like audio-apparatuses, and ... chairs. Most of the pieces are the ones highly
esteemed in the history of modern design.
Even rare items you can find here too. Don't
think I am exaggerating. You will be amazed
to see this quantity, with which you could
establish a museum of design right away,
and you will wonder how only one man could
do this. Not only the quantity. The quality
of each item will also impress you. Mr. Nagai
smiled at our amazed faces and said "I've
been doing this foolish thing for quite a
He had a foot in the world of modern
when he entered the business of interior
designing as a staff of a department-related
company. As you noticed right now,
is an interior designer. He got to
foreign magazines like "MD"
Germany, or "Mobilia" of
that is out of publishing now, and
gradually become addicted in the world
modern design in those magazines.
"How I wish I could really sit
these chairs!" A young man of
of age repeatedly went to Tokyo saving
living expenses. His commemorative
step of collecting chairs was "Superleggera",
a renowned work by Gio Ponti, which
him more than his one-month's salary,
"Carimate" by Vico Magistretti
(both from Cassina Co.) After 30 years,
one third of the year is spent in Europe
or in USA searching for chairs. His
grew up to be more than 900 pieces.
This makes me wonder if this collection
just for the business study of an interior
designer. What made him do this?
"I have been a collector since
a child," says he, but is it the
His real start was when he knew the
of MoMA(Museum of Modern Art in New
would be nice if I could coordinate
beautiful in daily life. And I found
was the modern design."
The beauty of function inspires his
to extend to the way of living itself,
to match this chair, the total interior
the room should be that person's design,
or, for this cup that kind of opportunity
and that kind of drinks is suitable.
reason why Mr. Nagai collects chairs
all is "I was attracted by the
beauty of the chair as well as by the
of sitting on it."
The deepest motivation of his collecting
things is that "he likes it"
he finds more joy in "tracing"
a chair than in "owning"
fulfills his detective instinct. He
perfectly remembers how he found the
by tracing whose informations and connections
in which stores in what places. "This
unbelievable collection was achieved
with the unremunerated cooperation
He is enjoying the humane communication
the course of collecting things, as
it seems that he is absorbed in his
hobby of collecting things. One of
age's problems is how to communicate
others, but probably Mr. Nagai's method
communication is the collecting of
What proves my theory is his many friends
in Paris, Milan, Berlin, Copenhagen
York who whole-heartedly welcome his
To pay a visit to his old friends,
on a journey again to search for things.
In 1997, Mr. Nagai was awarded "The
Furniture Prize" by the government
Denmark, together with another Japanese.
His cultural dedication to the country
furniture was esteemed. This prize
given to those like Hans J. Wegner
Mogensen, but never given to a foreigner
It was Nagai's enthusiasm, his continuing
will, and his characteristic that made
achievement possible. In the course
interview, we were just overwhelmed,
Mr. Nagai remained smiling his gentle
You know, we are very proud of this
cousin, and we hope you will see and enjoy
his effort of making Yoyokaku better and
better. Together with Mr. Schri Kakinuma,
the architect who is taking care of the renovation
of Yoyokaku for these 20 years, Keiji tries
to build up his own world here. Why? He doesn't
answer, but I know the reason. He does it
because this is the place he belongs to.
Thank you again for coming to my web-page,
and I wish you a very happy new year and a very
chairful new century!
| Mail to Harumi Okochi