Alexandra Lange
Architecture & design critic

'Deco Japan' + Designing Women

A dancer in a liquid, backless dress stares at herself in a horizontal mirror, feet resting on a black square of a checkerboard floor. Also reflected in the mirror: the curving tubular steel of a cantilever chair, its seat daringly upholstered in a tiger stripe. Where are we? The woman, possibly weeping, could be Dietrich. The furniture, possibly a knock-off, could be Breuer, But we’re a long way from the Bauhaus. It’s a photograph by Hamaya Hiroshi from 1935, taken at Tokyo’s Ballroom Florida dancehall. In one image there’s Hollywood glamor, modernist furniture, the dawn of photojournalism and some out-of-context American tourism (“Florida” was, in fact, copied from a Parisian dancehall of that name).