japanese art, design and culture

Posts from — June 2010

Periscope House by Kuno + Aida

Toshimitsu Kuno of tele-design and Tomoro Aida of Aida Atelier have recently completed Periscope House in a dense residential neighborhood of Zushi, Kanagawa.

In order to maximize living conditions while keeping in mind site-specific constraints, the architects proposed a plan in which 3 rooms would poke their heads out above the level of homes like a periscope on a submarine. Very cute idea! I always wanted to live in a submarine.

Photography: Tatsuya Noaki

Via Jutaku Tokushu (7/2010 issue)

Toshimitsu Kuno / tele-design + Tomoro Aida / Aida Atelier have recently

June 30, 2010   Comments Off

Sprout by Studio Archi Farm

click images to enlarge

Ken Minata and Ie Onda of Studio Archi Farm recently completed their latest project; a residential home on an agricultural farm. Since their founding in 2006, the architects have completed several projects but Sprout is arguably the cornerstone of their portfolio, combining actual practice with their philosophy, which states that architecture – much like farming – is intended to form and cultivate the bond between people and land.

The primary task facing the architects was how to resolve the dilemma of merging environmental lushness with the realities of modern-day farming, which required gravel paths and many (8 to be exact) large industrial vehicles to be parked outside the house.

Their first solution was to visually separate the vehicles from the living environment by creating a primary lawn on top of the roof that housed the vehicles. The living space was then designed around this space.

Their second solution was to restore the relationship with nature by integrating well water into the design. Well water gets pumped up to the roof, acting as a cooling mechanism, as well as a sprinkler for the turf on the roof. Lovely!

June 29, 2010   3 Comments

Bird House by Katsuhiro Miyamoto

click to enlarge

Katsuhiro Miyamoto Architects recently completed their latest residential project, Bird House. These pictures are from the open house that was held back in April.

The home sits on a sloping site and is comprised of 3 bird-house-like rooms that are connected by ramps. The architectural feat must have been a bureaucratic nightmare. I have no idea how they got the city of Nagoya to sign off on this project but I’m certainly glad they did because it is astonishing.

I thought it was very clever how the ramp mimics the road passing in front and behind the house.

Via Jutaku Tokushu (7/2010 issue)

June 28, 2010   Comments Off

JCD Design Award 2010 | 9h capsule hotel

We wrote about the gold prize yesterday, but the 2010 JCD Design Award top prize went to the Kyoto-based capsule hotel 9h. Congratulations to Fumie Shibata (creative direction and product design), Masaaki Hiromura (graphic design) and Takaaki Nakamura (interior design)!

Spoon & Tamago profiled 9h back in March. You can read the post here.

June 24, 2010   1 Comment

JCD Design Award 2010 | Tanada Piece Gallery by GENETO

We’ve just received word that GENETO has been awarded a gold in the 2010 JCD Design Awards for their work, Tanada Piece Gallery. Located in Kyotanabe City, Kyoto (Google Map) the gallery was designed to emulate the terraced rice paddies that begin to take shape as you travel by train to arrive at the modest town.

The clients – two retired schoolteachers – wanted to create a multifunctional space where families and children could come and enjoy art, chat, play and generally just enjoy themselves. The designers came up with the idea of various “scenes” that would allow for the different activities and the result is a revolutionary space for viewing art.

I think having art on the floors, at the same level as the viewer, is simply a fantastic way to gets kids and adults interested in art. It’s hard to get anyone excited about art if you hang it on a wall, several feet above their head, forcing them to strain their neck at something that is flaunting its importance.

The JCD (Japan Commercial Environment Designers Association) Design Awards are given to designers, and their work, who particularly excel in the field of interior design and commercial space design

Some winners for the 2009 JCD Design Awards include Yamakoya by Ben Nagaoka, Blossom and Atmosphere by Ryuji Nakamura, Spitzen weben by Chuo Architects and Mori x Haco by UID Archtects.

June 23, 2010   2 Comments

Diego by the River

Ichiro Katami of Kata Inc. – one of the masterminds whose designs ignited the café boom in Tokyo – has completed his latest project. What can only be an homage to the great Mexican painter Diego Rivera, Diego by the River (Google Map) opened in Enoshima on May 1st.

It’s situated at the mouth of Sagami Bay and overlooks the water, as well as Enoshima. Bring your doggy because the stylish café has a pet-friendly terrace.


June 23, 2010   6 Comments

Bottle Candle by Chinatsu Kambayashi

Speaking of Jamo Associates, one of the pair of designers, Chinatsu Kambayashi, has attempted her first product design. Bottle Candle (PDF) is, as you may have guessed, quite simply, a candle shaped like a bottle.

Back in 2008, Kambayashi curated a pop-up shop within The Globe, an antique shop based in Tokyo. The Bottle Candle is a collaboration between The Globe and an extension of this project, which ran with the theme, no antiques, no life.

Mark, Carol, Ann, Susan, Fabio and Margaret are available at Cibone and range from between 1,365 yen – 7,140 yen.

June 22, 2010   Comments Off

Opening Ceremony in Tokyo by Jamo Associates

All images by kozo takayama | click to enlarge

Last summer the multifaceted indie fashion retailer Opening Ceremony opened their Tokyo flagship store to much acclaim. Their first venture outside the US was anything but modest – an 8-level “mini mall” in the middle of Shibuya.  And Jamo Associates – the go-to-guys for store design in Japan – have finally uploaded official pictures of their work.

The verdict? If flamingos, lamas, floating chairs and florescent mannequins are your thing, go now. If you like walking through IKEA’s showroom, go now. And if you haven’t been there yet, go now. This is a freakin fashion amusement park; a must-see especially if you are interested in store/window display design.

By the way, this exhaustive set of pictures are in hierarchical order – from FL 1 to FL 8.


June 21, 2010   3 Comments

baguette life by Igarashi Design

Hisae Igarashi of Igarashi Design has designed a series of eco-friendly furniture made from laminated wood. The unique process enables distorted ovals  and other odd shapes to take effect, as well as an intentional gradation of shades.

I especially love the shape of that table and how, depending on where you sit, you can either be closer or farther away from your partner. The furniture was all produced in Japan by the artisans at Hida Industries.

The collection also utilizes all the imperfections such as knots, instead of tossing them as scraps. The roughness – much like the crisp crust of a baguette – is simply what wooden furniture was meant to feel like in its natural form.

June 18, 2010   Comments Off

Wako University Building E by Naito Architects

Back in April Naito Architects completed a new addition to Wako University located in Machida, Tokyo. Building E arrived just in time to accommodate the start of a new school year.

The design is one that complements the free-thinking culture of the school, a uniqueness lacking in so many educational institutions in Japan. I know this because my wife went to Wako High School, also in Machida. And it is evident, by the epic  stories she tells, that this is a school like no other in Japan.

June 16, 2010   1 Comment