Live Small/Live Modern: The Best of Beams at Home
Rizzoli, April 2019
Hardcover | 6-1/2 x 9-1/2 inches | 412 pages | 450 illustrations | English | ISBN: 978-0847865253 | $45.00
Live Small/Live Modern curates the most envy-inducing spaces pulled from Beams at Home, the interior and lifestyle series that has sold over 70,000 copies and has gained a cult-like following in Japan. Filled with infinite ideas for how to spruce up your home in hip and clever ways, this is an indispensable guide to the Japanese “art of tidying up” in small spaces.
Published here for the first time in English, Live Small/Live Modern profiles more than 100 homes–from tiny one-bedroom apartments to high-ceilinged lofts–offering readers a fountain of ideas on how to design, organize, and adorn small spaces without sacrificing personality and style. Over 400 beautiful color photographs showcase the homes of ever-hip people whose honest approach to decorating never fails to exude a laid-back, Japanese-cool style.
Beams? I must admit I hadn’t heard of Beams before this book made its way to me. Established in 1976 in Tokyo, the “pioneer of lifestyle retailing” has 150 shops in Japan and other parts of East Asia selling designer pieces and Beams brand products. They have also delved in print, publishing a trio of books between 2014 and 2016 that have sold tens of thousands of copies in Japan. The three volumes of Beams at Home reveal “the styles and homes of Beams buyers, PR personnel and shop staff,” in order to give a “peek into the innovative minds of the people that make Beams.” Put another way, Beams at Home presents the cluttered yet still ordered homes of real people, not celebrities; and not idealized settings akin to houses before families have moved in or high-budget houses out of reach for most people. The homes are modest and the stories presented are strictly focused on the interiors, more about the people who live in them and their possessions than the design of the spaces. This is the Japanese art of tidying up — minus Marie Kondo.
Live Small/Live Modern presents a portfolio of more than 60 homes from the three Beams at Home, but for the first time in English. Each home is given between four and eight pages, with photographs and brief questions and answers providing insight on the residents and their stuff. The questions vary from one home to the next but there are plenty of repeated questions: What is the most cherished item in your home? What kind of fashion style do you like? And so on. While the quality of the photos won’t win any awards (and sometimes the photos and captions are hard to match, given the overly skinny font keyed over the photos), the documentary-like images do a great job at capturing the lived-in qualities of each space and focusing on the unique qualities of each home, be it the storage solutions of a shoe fanatic or a man whose most cherished item in the home of him and his partner is “the composition and harmony of the sum of all parts.” (The home, starting on page 184, is one of the best in the book.) People enamored with the style of how other people live — especially of those who live in small spaces with a lot of stuff — will really love this book.
Spreads (via Issuu):
Beams is a Japanese retailer based in Tokyo. Beams started as a small shop in the Harajuku district of Tokyo in 1976, and has since grown into an influential fashion brand and an arbiter of style in Japan and beyond.