Jane overseeing the construction of an eightfoot step tansu in solid resewood, at the factory in Hong Kong, China
The step tansu became popular in Japan during the early Edo period, 16th century, when livable space was limited. "Tansu" is translated as "chest" or "trunk" in Japanese and ranges from three to eight steps but can be any number in modern tansu's.
Serving two functions, blanket storage,and a staircase to an upper loft. Japanese homeowners were taxed according to the livable area in their home; the step tansu exploitated the tax loophole wherein the loft was not accessible and therefore was not taxed as livable space.
Designed in multiple pieces, the tansu was made for quick disassembly. Today, the tansu is used as a room divider, curio, closet organzier, permanently installed home staircase and in the case of Rosewood House custom design, a home office desk.