French Modernism in Japan: Interview with Keiko from Soup Clozzet

We had the pleasure of visiting Japan about two months ago. While we were there we sat down with Soup Clozzet owner, Keiko, and discussed all things design. Soup Clozzet is a Mid Century furniture and lighting shop dedicated to preserving and highlighting French Modernist designs. We first met Keiko very briefly when we visited her store back in 2017, before we even started Oxford Patina. Her store is small, quaint, and located in the outskirts of Osaka, but her inventory contains some of the most rare and interesting French Modernist pieces you’ll ever come across. There’s something very charming about Soup Clozzet that you don’t get from many other Mid Century furniture galleries. The hardwood floors, the modest space, it almost feels like you’re walking into someone’s home. Here’s a small selection of photos from our visit to the Soup Clozzet showroom.

Front of Soup Clozzet furniture store

Charlotte Perriand Pierre Jeanneret Jean Prouve

Charlotte Perriand Pierre Jeanneret Jean Prouve

Charlotte Perriand Pierre Jeanneret Jean Prouve

Charlotte Perriand Pierre Jeanneret Jean Prouve

Charlotte Perriand Pierre Jeanneret Jean Prouve

Charlotte Perriand Pierre Jeanneret Jean Prouve

Charlotte Perriand Pierre Jeanneret Jean Prouve

Q: How did you get started in selling vintage furniture?

A: We began this shop 16 years ago. I first began selling American vintage with my husband. He’s a graphic designer and he works at the top floor of this shop. Originally, we began as collectors and since the business below my husband’s graphic design studio was leaving, we decided to take their space and use it to sell the furniture that we had collected but not really seriously and more as a hobby.

Q: What is it about French Modernist design that inspires you?

A: Our love for French Modernist design started with the lampe gras and visiting Paris every year for shopping. There is something more elegant about French Modernist design, particularly Pierre Jeanneret, Jean Prouve, and Charlotte Perriand. We particularly love Charlotte Perriand because of the influence she had  from Japan during her early years. We also love that French Modernist design was usually not made for commercial selling, they were typically made for a specific institution. Particularly with Pierre Jeanneret I love that his pieces were handcrafted and there were no furniture stores around when they were building the furniture for Chandigarh so the heights and the widths of the chairs are inconsistent and unique.

Q: What was your first great piece that you acquired? And do you still have it?

A: Jean Prouve Standard Chair. When we first got it, they weren’t as popular as they are today and they were only a fraction of the price. Unfortunately, we don’t have that piece anymore but we have many more other beautiful pieces that we love and cherish.

Q: Do you have a favorite piece in your collection?

A: I like them all! Our policy for the selection of the items is, if it does not sell then we get to keep it. So it’s difficult to decide on a favorite but I guess for today, my favorite is the Pierre Chapo stools that we just got.

Q: Speaking of Pierre Chapo, how do you feel about his son reproducing his work?

A: I always prefer original pieces so I’m not a fan of reproductions. However, since he signs the pieces and makes a distinction that it’s not Pierre Chapo’s work and I believe he uses different materials, it’s okay.

Q: Do you have a grail piece that you don’t currently own?

A: Jean Prouve Standard chair made for export to Africa. I saw it last year in Paris and it’s extremely rare.

Q: In your opinion what’s the difference between good design and bad design?

A: That’s a very difficult question to answer. If I had to say, I think balance is very important and in Japanese there is what’s called an “Aura”. Aura is kind of like a feeling that the design gives you and if it’s not there then generally the design is not so good.

Q: Lastly, do you have any advice for people trying to learn more about the history of furniture design?

A: First of all, there are so many books. Read all the books that you can about the history of the pieces and their designers. Secondly, I think it’s very important to actually see the design in person. It’s very important because when you see something online or in a book, it's difficult to see the small details. But when you see it in person, it becomes quite obvious what makes the design so great and so specific and with that you will be able to spot a fake with just one look.

Thanks for reading! If you’re interested in visiting Soup Clozzet in person, we’ve provided their address below, or you can check out their website here for additional information!

Instagram: @soupclozzet

Address: Japan, 〒550-0001 Osaka, Nishi Ward, 1, 西区土佐堀1丁目1−5



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