no.37 アーカイブ


Japanese Aesthetics

Lifestyle of ancient times has been changing in Japan just like it has in Europe and the US. Within this trend, we search for the possibility of how Japanese elements influence modern Japanese people's lifestyle by having another look at "Japanese touch."
Japanese housing has been changing according to the climate of high temperature and high humidity. The housing has a basic structure where the floor is elevated from the ground and flooring. The main houses where nobles lived from ancient times to medieval times had no walls in the house and the space was divided by furniture according to its various purposes. Afterwards, rooms limited to the different purposes emerged, like a library structure which is called the prototype of the current tatami room. This had developed and a house with a tea room where people can communicate without any formality while adoring the nature had evolved. Also, a tea room which is a minimal space without any decorations became the room consolidated with aesthetic feelings. Moreover, urbane houses of common people had developed as a store/residence. In these tradesmen's houses, the part which faces the road is store and in the back, there was a residential space. Since the house had a depth, a courtyard was established to secure ventilation and sun exposure.
By looking back at history, it's apparent there is a characteristic that has been passed on through generations for more than 10 thousand years, amongst Japanese residences. Among those characteristics are a liberating feeling from a structure with pillars and beams and no walls, intermediate regions subtly connecting the indoor and the outside like veranda-like porches, earthen floors and courtyards, the living room alcove which brings depth and not function as a decoration, fixtures instead of fixed walls "Shoji"(Japanese traditional paper panel doors) , "Fusuma" (sliding doors), and gratings that can open and close, and a garden where four seasons can be enjoyed. Japanese housings express people's hearts of adoring nature and their relationships with people. "Japanese-style" is not the form but the spirit that lies within. Through reexamining the Japanese spirit that has been passed on through generations unconsciously, it creates the catalyst to create a well-rounded residence.


I Residence Architect/Matsuyama Architect and Associates


I Residence

The I residence is located in Munakata city, Fukuoka prefecture, in the Kyushu district. The owner couple wanted to follow the design of a Danish architect Halldor Gunnlogsson which is a one-story house employing Japanese calligraphy ink colored walls, pillars, sliding doors and Fusuma(wooden framed screens.)
An architect Masakatsu Matsuyama designed a simple and rectangular residence which has lots of intermediate regions like veranda-like porch and earthen floor. In a space that stretches out from the south to the north for about 20m x 8m, sandwiched by the floor and the ceiling, a kitchen, a bathroom and a toilet are situated. On the north side, a bedroom is located and a living and dining rooms are situated on the south side. By having the exterior walls pulled 1.2m inside, veranda-like porches with deep eaves are set in four directions of the house. The perspective of distance can be felt in many ways by combining a wall clearly dividing the space, a grating which subtly delivers sign of presence, and glass that one can see through. The I residence has spaces everywhere connecting loosely to the outside, and one can feel the surrounding nature from anywhere in the house. The relaxing residence was born where northern European furniture the couple selected looks wonderful in the space with Japanese essence.


Architect:Matsuyama Architect and Associates



Takashi Sugimoto, Kenya Hara and Naoto Fukasawa

Takashi Sugimoto is an interior designer who handles commercial space designs both domestically and abroad. Kenya Hara is involved in communication projects, ranging widely from graphic designs to art directions. Naoto Fukasawa is a product designer who handles various products with major domestic and global manufacturers. The three designers who represent Japan discuss themes like "How to perceive Japan" and "Japanese design's impact for the future" from the designer's point of view.
So what is Japanese-style? Japan is influenced by many foreign cultures. Sugimoto asserts that European countries and China are seeking something glamorous. On the contrary, what differentiates Japan from Europe and China is that it finds beauty in simple things. Hara states that grips of German knives are shaped all the same. On the other hand, the handles of Japanese knives are straight and seem like wherever you grip, the hand blends right in. This expresses the Japanese-style to a tee. Fukasawa believes that when things are natural, they are in their most harmonized state and that when things are added, they become just decorations. In the 20th century, additions were considered the norm for design. However, the current Japanese architects try to take in the "natural elements" for new styles has become simple and minimalist. Japanese people have known that natural elements are when things are in their most luxurious and beautiful state from long ago. Moreover, Fukasawa states that the beauty of Japanese elements lies in the maintenance. This also holds true for architecture and products where the completion stage is not considered to be the most beautiful state. By using this, a meaningful flavor is born. It is important that the people and the products have contacts.
Hara says it is not only limited to the designs. The important thing for future generations is the state where things are naturally balanced without being fixated on any one thing. Fukasawa states that in the past, when things were made to be somewhat unusual, the rest was accepted even though they were not good, but recently, having a good balance is considered significant. Sugimoto asserts that that kind of flow wouldn't let the economy grow. "Mujirushi Ryohin"(so-called Muji) is the brand which struggles with harmonizing a comfortable lifestyle and the design along with the economic growth through a trial and error process. These three people think their role is to aim for this harmony. Japanese people started looking at their country differently, and it is thought that they are beginning to be proud of something besides Japan's economic growth. Japanese aesthetic feeling towards residences is not lost, rather in a buried state. Now we will have to dig up our aesthetic feeling.


Stone Craftsman Masatoshi Izumi


Mure-cho is situated 7km to the east of the center of Takamatsu city in Kagawa prefecture, located in the Shikoku district. Mure-cho's local product is Ajiishi(granite gravestone) which is a type of granite. Stone craftsman Masatoshi Izumi's workshop/ guesthouse and his residence, which use plenty of Ajiishi and wood, is in this town littered with many stone dealer shops. Izumi's 2 buildings are called "Izumiya" and are interesting spaces because they showcase the stone utility value in the Japanese housing market.
Izumi grew up surrounded by stone craftsmen and he started his rock-related work at the age of 15. While in his youth, Izumi consistently learned quarrying and processing techniques of stones, Alsp around his time, he encountered the Kagawa Prefecture Government Office Building designed by a prominent architect Kenzo Tange, representing Japan. At that time, he realized new possibilities in working with stones and learned that stones could be used for not only gravestones and garden lanterns but for other purposes as well. Izumi then set a goal to create a unique stone processing-style that would became his legacy. About at the same time, Izumi met the worldly famous sculptor Isamu Noguchi who visited Mure-cho searching for a good-quality stone. Izumi started to receive some work from Noguchi. Izumi's skill to pick up the artist's intentions and accurately shape the stones, supported Isamu's production of work for 25 succeeding years. Currently, Izumi participates in the projects of urban planning and hotels cooperating with other architects and designers from home and abroad, besides sculptures.
From long ago, Japanese religion has been closely tied to nature because it relates to the Japanese spirit of respecting and coexisting with nature. Through his work on the stone walls of castles and in the gardens of Zen temples, Izumi considers his role to be presenting unspoiled stones, thereby passing on Japanese validity to the next generation.



An interior space designer Takashi Sugimoto actively handles various designs of restaurants, hotels and bars both domestically and overseas. He works all over the world. Sugimoto owns a vacation home on Ubud, Bali, in Indonesia. It consists of two villas and a tea room. Originally it was owned by the hotel next to it but Sugimoto purchased it since he liked the traditional Balinese building and surrounding nature environment. He is also fond of the Balinese lifestyle which reminds him of Japanese agricultural village a few decades ago. After he purchased it, he renovated on his own gradually.
What stands out the most is the wooden panel where the traditional south-east Asian patterns like flowers and leaves are sculptured. This woodcarving detail adds some nuance to the space. Sugimoto often applies things that local people produced in his designs. He thinks the old material being newly reborn in a different space is good. Sugimoto learned its spirit in the old, plain Japanese tea room where scrap wood was utilized. In this Balinese tea room, he considered how the light falls and how the greens are seen. He expressed the connection with nature through fretwork panel.
Sugimoto says that the Japanese commer-cialized modern society and design can learn something from the ritual spirit of serving and drinking Japanese tea where it is customary for one simply exist in a small space while feeling the essence of the four seasons. Some designers who support Japan's creation are aware that the sophisticated and plain culture which Japan transmits, in other words, the tea ceremony culture will be the driving power to pull the 21st century design.


Y Residence

The Y residence stands in a quiet residential area in Shizuoka city, Shizuoka prefecture. This wooden house also has an atelier and a gallery for the wife, who works as a ceramic artist. On the 1st floor, there is an atelier, and on the 2nd floor is the residential space. The gallery is located on the cloister slope which connects the two floors.
Architect Tomoyuki Utsumi employed a curtain wall for the west side in addition to the south side, which faces the frontal road. A curtain wall is normally difficult to do with timber construction. At the same time, a golden proportion was altered on the parallelogram along the inclination angle of the slope. By doing this, the gallery is accentuated as a public space and became a finely elevated surface in the home.
When you go around the slope that extends out from the entrance, you enter the atelier that houses a kiln and a potter's wheel. A workshop is situated in the most deep-set place, the wife can concentrate on her work in the even light that comes in from the north side. Moreover, there is a staircase that leads to the 2nd floor. On the 2nd floor, a living room and a dining room are combined into one room, creating a bright space. Beyond the terrace which faces the north side, there is a panoramic view of beautiful mountains.


Architect: milligram architectural studio


KASTHALL manufactures high-class rugs which take on the needs of the present age. Rugs certainly have a Northern European feel to them despite assimilating other country's culture and fashion taste as well. KASTHALL's factory is located in a small town called Kinna which is in the central part of western Sweden. Kinna used to be one of the best woolen fabric industrial districts. KASTHALL has been manufacturing high-quality rugs for more than 120 years, beginning in 1889.
Western Sweden flourished as the woolen fabric industrial region and along the arterial roadway, huge mansions owned by factory owners lined up. However, in the 1970s, the woolen fabric industry moved to Poland and China to seek for cheap labor. On the other hand, KASTHALL hired Gunilla Lagerhem Ullberg as a main designer in 1987 and focused on the design while having the policy of keep making the best grade rugs. This approach made KASTHALL differentiated from other manufacturers. Despite all of this, KASTHALL rugs are still highly evaluated globally, giving them an established position in the industry, leading other country's rug manufacturers.

Kasthall Mattor & Golv AB
Box 254, FritslaviCgen 42 SE-511 23 KINNA, SWEDEN


D Residence

The D residence stands in a resort area called Karuizawa-machi in Nagano prefecture situated in the Honshu inland district. While maximizing the slope of the plot configuration surrounded by forests, a building with a basement and a 1st floor with vaulted ceiling was built. On the south side, rich foliage spreads out. When you enter the entrance on the 1st floor located on the northeast side of the plot, you can oversee the approximately 4m glassed-in opening consisting of 2 floors, and a living and dining room on the bottom floor. When the window is opened, the living room connects to the outside deck so that you can closely feel the forests even though you are inside.
The owner couple wanted a weekend home which they can use year-round, and one that is well equipped with winter measures against cold. Architect Satoshi Kuwahara installed a heat storage system called "Therma Slab." This is a system where an electric heater is buried in the clod. Emitted heat underneath the floor warms the indoors and the warmth from the heater, transmits to the basement clod and accumulates heat. As for the living and dining room, a fireplace was custom-ordered so the residents are able to enjoy the flames of burning firewood. Next to this fireplace, audio instruments were placed, and an image is projected from the projector set in the kitchen on a screen which hangs on the window side. The master bedroom on the upper floor is raised 350mm from the hallway floor surface and it became a space where the view of the garden and the borrowing landscape of forests can be enjoyed. On the other hand, the bedroom, 2-mat tatami rooms located on the east and the west, and an atelier where the husband does pottery have been divided by split-levels. This units visually different perspectives. The contrast between the compact space and extended space is emphasized in the residence by having a big opening in the living room and a small window in the Japanese-style room.


Architect:Satoshi Kuwahara Architectural Studio

About no.37

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