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Founded 2002

Members Ken Kimizuka, Yumi Masuko, Hiroshi Yoneya

Disciplines Furniture, products, interiors

Mission To employ color and pattern with magnum force

Collective hero Shigeru Uchida, a founder of the Japanese interior design firm Studio 80

Despite its typically Japanese attachment to minimalism, the Tokyo-based design trio Tonerico shows an equal flair for pattern and scale. Memento, a scene-stealing prototype the group installed at the 2005 Milan Furniture Fair, is a giant floor lamp made of two concentric cylinders, each cut with a pattern of digits whose shadows overlap on the surrounding walls. Tonerico proved it could be equally powerful on a domestic scale when Memento was unveiled in an end-table size a few months ago. And its Washin eyeglass boutique, which opened in 2005 in Yokosuka, Japan, testifies to the group’s sense of knowing when and where to roll out color: The interior is all white except for a deep eggplant–hued carpet, whose checkerboard pattern is difficult to differentiate from the shadows cast by the shop’s display cases.

Hiroshi Yoneya and Ken Kimizuka met as interior designers working for Shigeru Uchida in the 1990s. In 2002, the two formed Tonerico with Yumi Masuko, a curator and graphic designer who is married to Yoneya. The strong graphic elements in their work might be traced to Masuko, but the partners are self-effacing about their individual contributions. “Sharing design goals is not such a difficult thing in Japanese society,” they say via email.

Tonerico’s latest architectural project—and most lauded interior yet, judging by the chatter surrounding it—is the Kikyoya candy store in Nagoya. Outside, it’s an austere white box. Inside, sweets are displayed both in a cabinet that hovers on a cloud of light and on a wafer-thin steel serving table with Kikyoya’s logo spilled across the surface in a laser-cut graphic; light shines through the lacy pattern and dapples the floor below. A heavy communal dining table and delicate chairs with spindly chrome legs sit behind panels of reflective glass.

Tonerico has won a raft of awards at home for Kikyoya and abroad for Memento, making stateside admirers wonder when a project is destined for our shores. Let the countdown begin. — tim mckeough

Art: A prototype for Tonerico’s Memento lamp, first shown at 2005’s Salone Satellite in Milan