Shinzi Katoh is a superstar in Japan and one of the most popular designers of zakka. Zakka is a broad term used to describe anything that improves or spruces up your home or life and often refers to a common household object infused with Japanese cute.
These placemats (above) are a perfect example of zakka. Made of thin and flexible polypropylene, they can be quickly wiped and are a happy greeting at the start of a meal ($5.95).
Called "morning sets" these non-breakable melamine trays include a fork, spoon and cup in several fun, graphic styles ($23.95).
Billed as "guest towels," we think these are too cute to save for guests ($5.95).
Screenprinted canvas tote bags are perfect for a trip to the library ($21.95).
It can be difficult to find zakka here in the U.S., but you're in luck - Superbuzzy
, an online Portland-based store focused on Japanese fabric, notions and gifts also has a love for Mr. Katoh and has imported some of his designs. They tend to sell out quickly, but you can sign up for the Superbuzzy email newsletter on their homepage and be alerted when their new shipments have arrived.
More Shinzi Katoh designs can be viewed here