These 8 interiors from Japanese houses we’ve shown in our pages possess warm woods, clean lines, and an unparalleled design sense.
The black facade of Motoshi Yatabe’s house in Saitama, a tightly packed neighborhood near Tokyo, belies its bright interiors. Called the “LDK,” for living, dining, and kitchen, the main interior space is flexible—a blend of Western loft life and traditional Japanese homes, where rooms are multipurpose. Photo by Dean Kaufman.
For "2004," a private residence amid a new residential development in Matsumoto, Japan, Hideyuki Nakayama started off with sketches of a girl sleeping on a blanket with a floor hovering above her. This image best illustrates the ambiguous spatial relationships in the home. The black slab acts as a mezzanine as well as a place to eat and gather.
The upper floor of a Tokyo house designed by Go Hasegawa is sparsely decorated, and the height of the room is just under six feet. Because of the low ceiling height, Hasegawa designed a table and selected chairs with an equally low height. By installing a transparent glass plate underneath the glass-topped dining table, the residents have a real top-to-bottom experience of the forest. Photo by Go Hasegawa.
On a double suburban lot in Tokyo, the Office of Ryue Nishizawa built a neighborhood-scaled, flexible-format minimalist steel prefab compound for Yasuo Moriyama and six rental tenants. A detail of one corner exemplifies the overall simplicity of the design—as well as what's most important.
A distinctive wooden pattern lines the walls, floors, and ceilings of this compact home in Tokyo designed by Mount Fuji Architects Studio. Here, oak boards are hammered one-by-one into a honey-colored herringbone pattern.
Martin van der Linden, a Dutch-born architect, was hunting for discarded or recycled wood that could be used to redesign his firm's own offices near Tokyo, when Nanako Tsujimoto, a designer in his firm, heard that a 40-year-old house—ancient by Japanese standards—was being demolished in her neighborhood. Van der Linden and his colleagues rebuilt part of the house inside of their existing space, complete with a small window and a set of sliding doors. The house-within-a-house became a small library and conference room. Leftover wood was used to build two smaller structures that house workstations for the firm’s staff.