Tortoise Life, A Look Inside

Sculpture by Teruo Kinoshita. Made in Tokyo, Japan.

Every so often I come across shops that resonate with me and seem to be on the same wavelength as us who work here, usually these stores sell totally abstract functional products or items that I’ve never seen before. It’s a pleasure to view objects like these seen here and it peaks my interest in design again, captures something my mind that makes me analyse how a human would use these and what sort of environment they would sit in. Maybe I look into these details slightly more than most individuals, but that’s possibly because it’s my job as well and my passion/life revolves around it.

So places like Tortoise Life that we’re showcasing today are right up my alley, it resides in Los Angeles and was started by husband and wife team Taku and Keiko Shinomoto. After years of working for a design company in Tokyo they decided in 2003 that they wanted a slower more contemplative life, hence the inspiration for the name of the store, “Tortoise Life”. I didn’t know this but the tortoise in Japan is a Japanese symbol for longevity, good luck, and support. So after much contemplating they decided to quit their jobs and ended up spending some time travelling, finding themselves in the Venice section of Los Angeles where they started the store. On their about page it says that the couple oppose the “fast-food” society and want to re-observe and re-discover what we’re actually using in our lives. I think this is really important and is something we need to look at more and more as the world is developing, this throwaway mentality is not good for us.

What I like about these quirky independent stores is the fact that they actually travel around to these different destinations, in this example Japan, and look for new objects and products. Taku and Keiko for example will go and visit the different artisans and craftsmen several times a year, for the stores benefit and their own. It’s great to see this link between the owner and the maker, it’s not just churned out in some factory somewhere, it has real meaning and substance and optimizes the word “collaboration”.

So you’re probably wondering what all these photos are above and below, well these were all hand selected by myself from their webshop named ‘Tortoise’, which is actually the second shop that they’ve opened in Los Angeles. It’s simply more of a gallery environment which sells art, vintage design objects, jewelry, out-of-print books and a mixture of original furniture. I like the fact that they’re not particularly biased with an era, like mid-century or something, they stock items from someone like Sori Yanagi for example which was designed in the 1950’s and then also newer items like the cups from Marc Newson in 2000. I think these are pretty terrific because they look like plastic cups but they’re actually produced out of bone china. I also enjoy that they sell more industrial items integrated with one of a kind ceramics/crafts, a good mixture overall across the two stores. These shops aren’t updated as much as one would like but this goes with the nature of the product as these really need to be viewed in person, a nice selection that’s definitely worth checking out. Head to Tortoise Life on the link below to find out and see more.

Umbrella Stand designed by Shiro Kuramata in 1987. Made out of black painted stainless steel.

Murai Stool designed by Reiko Tanabe in 1966. Made out of teak plywood.

Porcelain tea pot designed by Sori Yanagi in 1956.

Cups by Marc Newson designed in 2000 for IDEE, a Tokyo-based furniture company. They’re made out of bone china.

Mug Cup by Yumiko Iihoshi.