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  • Kristie Wong

    Kristie Wong

    Marketing Specialist

    Marketing lead at btrax. Australian-born, Hong Kong-raised, San Francisco living. Lover of social technology and pop culture, and always excited for a good brand story.

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  • Nov 29, 2016

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The Furniture Store of the Japanese Elite: Cassina ixc.

Cassina is an Italian manufacturing company specialized in high-end designer furniture. They have locations all over the world on every continent.

We had the opportunity to sit down with the Yasuhiro Mori, the Executive President of Cassina ixc. at their Tokyo showroom in Aoyama. Cassina ixc. is the exclusive distributor of Cassina furniture in Japan.

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Mr. Mori, Executive President of Cassina Ixc. (left)

Cassina the brand is actually a furniture manufacturer that has their own showrooms around the world but also relies on different dealers to sell their furniture. For example, their furniture is sold in San Francisco at Arkitektura SF. This store houses many luxury furniture brands, including Cassina.

Cassina’s furniture is made in Italy and then shipped internationally.

Cassina ixc. in Japan is run independently. When you step into the flagship store in Aoyama, you will be greeted by their displays of dinnerware. According to Mr. Mori, dinnerware is placed near the front entrance as a “first step” for new customers in the world of high-end home goods and furniture. For those looking to upgrade their homes with quality luxury products, the price tags of Cassina’s wine glass sets and plates are reasonable when compared to the price tags of the rest of the store. It’s the beginner’s luxury.

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Image: Cassina’s front entrance dinnerware showroom

As we walk around the Cassina Aoyama Showroom, a member of staff introduces us to the paintings decorating the walls. They aren’t mere decorations. All the paintings are for sale along with the furniture. The store features original artwork by the likes Andy Warhol and Vincent Van Gogh. Many of the more expensive or famous painting are already sold.

According to Mr. Mori, the Italian luxury furniture brand is so well-known among Japanese elite that they don’t engage in the most common marketing tactics most other brands do. Instead of spending money on advertising or social media, they spend their resources on events and parties, with an exclusive invitation list that includes their past customers and members of the Japanese one percent and celebrities (those two groups may overlap).

Cassina’s stores all over the world have two key selling points.

1) The highest quality

Cassina furniture is extremely enduring and can be passed on from generation to generation. As with most luxury brands, some buy it despite the price, and others buy it because of the price. But all would agree that the quality is outstanding.

Today’s Cassina continues to manufacture luxury designs from exceptional materials. They’re the only licensed manufacturer of Le Corbusier’s furniture, and also carry lines by Charlotte Perriand, Gerrit Rietveld, and Philippe Starck. For example, Gio Ponti Superleggera chair, which began production in 1957, is one of Cassina’s enduring products and is said to represent modernity in Italian design. This chair starts at $1520.

2) The best customer service

In Japan, when a customer wants to furnish a new home, Cassina ixc. will send a representative to check the dimensions of the home to make sure the furniture they sell will be able to fit in it. They will also check the size of the elevator and stairs so they don’t sell you a couch that will never make it to the 15th floor of a building with a small stairwell and elevator. This service is already factored into the price of the furniture.

On top of that, should there be any problems with the furniture after the sale, Cassina ixc. will repair or replace the furniture regardless of how long ago the piece was sold. This level of customer service is expected by their customers for the price they pay for the products.

What about the high-tech smart furniture?

And what about innovating for the digital future? Mr. Mori believes that there will always be a place for a luxury brand that sells timelessness. This is the same reason people still buy Rolex watches and Louis Vuitton bags – it’s not because these things are state-of-the-art innovations with the newest technologies. These are enduring brands that have passed the test of time.

Although Mr. Mori was reluctant about the idea of mixing technology with furniture, their showrooms were equipped with Pepper robots. Clearly, while the products ought to stay the same, customer service is an area of innovation Cassina ixc. doesn’t shy away from.

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Image: Pepper Robot at the Cassina Showroom in Aoyama

Featured image: Cassina ixc. Flagship Showroom in Aoyama, Tokyo / Cassina ixc. 

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