Looking Inward

written by:
November 17, 2011

For Paul and Shoko Shozi, a pair of retiring Angelenos, the goal was to shut out the neighborhood but bring in the sunny skies. Their new prefab home, the Tatami House, designed by Swiss architect Roger Kurath of Design*21, makes a central courtyard the physical, and maybe even the spiritual, center of the home. On a fine Marina del Rey morning, Paul shows us around.

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  A handful of modernist classics—an Eames Lounge, a Bubble Lamp by George Nelson, and a shell armchair from Modernica—kit out the living room and kitchen.  Photo by: Jessica Haye and Clark Hsiao

    A handful of modernist classics—an Eames Lounge, a Bubble Lamp by George Nelson, and a shell armchair from Modernica—kit out the living room and kitchen.

    Photo by: Jessica Haye and Clark Hsiao

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  From the kitchen and living room you’re well connected to the courtyard and the rest of the house. The trim and accents are white oak; the kitchen is by Leicht.  Photo by: Jessica Haye and Clark Hsiao

    From the kitchen and living room you’re well connected to the courtyard and the rest of the house. The trim and accents are white oak; the kitchen is by Leicht.

    Photo by: Jessica Haye and Clark Hsiao

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  Paul and Shoko stand on the ipe deck with their dog, Mei.  “At first, we really wanted an Eichler, but it just did not work out. But after seeing a few we knew we had to have a courtyard home,” says Paul.  Photo by: Jessica Haye and Clark Hsiao

    Paul and Shoko stand on the ipe deck with their dog, Mei.  “At first, we really wanted an Eichler, but it just did not work out. But after seeing a few we knew we had to have a courtyard home,” says Paul.

    Photo by: Jessica Haye and Clark Hsiao

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  The unadorned street-facing facade of the house belies the light, open, tranquil space inside.  Photo by: Jessica Haye and Clark Hsiao

    The unadorned street-facing facade of the house belies the light, open, tranquil space inside.

    Photo by: Jessica Haye and Clark Hsiao

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  Organization is critical in keeping the Tatami House’s minimalist vibe intact. Shoko keeps the kitchen drawers tidy.  Photo by: Jessica Haye and Clark Hsiao

    Organization is critical in keeping the Tatami House’s minimalist vibe intact. Shoko keeps the kitchen drawers tidy.

    Photo by: Jessica Haye and Clark Hsiao

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  Shoku enjoys cooking.  Photo by: Jessica Haye and Clark Hsiao

    Shoku enjoys cooking.

    Photo by: Jessica Haye and Clark Hsiao

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  The couple's collection of books, pottery, and carvings are displayed on built-in shelves in the office and hallways.  Photo by: Jessica Haye and Clark Hsiao

    The couple's collection of books, pottery, and carvings are displayed on built-in shelves in the office and hallways.

    Photo by: Jessica Haye and Clark Hsiao

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  “We’re taking a ‘slow-life’ approach to decorating, putting things up at an easy pace and not stressing about having to fill a wall just because it’s blank," says Paul.  Photo by: Jessica Haye and Clark Hsiao

    “We’re taking a ‘slow-life’ approach to decorating, putting things up at an easy pace and not stressing about having to fill a wall just because it’s blank," says Paul.

    Photo by: Jessica Haye and Clark Hsiao

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  Alex the GreatThe custom white-oak desk that Kurath designed for the office ably houses both Paul’s and Shoko’s computers with support from a decidedly off-the-shelf source: Ikea. Paul replaced the casters on two Alex drawer units with short legs from an Ikea kitchen system. Tucked beneath the desktop, the standalone storage divides the desk into work stations, houses office sup­plies, and shows how high design plays well with a bit of DIY ingenuity.ikea.com  Photo by: Jessica Haye and Clark Hsiao
    Alex the Great

    The custom white-oak desk that Kurath designed for the office ably houses both Paul’s and Shoko’s computers with support from a decidedly off-the-shelf source: Ikea. Paul replaced the casters on two Alex drawer units with short legs from an Ikea kitchen system. Tucked beneath the desktop, the standalone storage divides the desk into work stations, houses office sup­plies, and shows how high design plays well with a bit of DIY ingenuity.

    ikea.com

    Photo by: Jessica Haye and Clark Hsiao

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  Hide Your Food AwayThe aesthetic throughout the house is supremely uncluttered, and that goes double for the kitchen, which domi­nates the central public space. “My wife is the master organizer,” says Paul. “In Japan space is so tight, I think it is in their DNA.” The kitchen and wall-storage system by the German com­pany Leicht continues the muted design palette and conceals it all from the microwave to the dishes.leicht.de  Photo by: Jessica Haye and Clark Hsiao
    Hide Your Food Away

    The aesthetic throughout the house is supremely uncluttered, and that goes double for the kitchen, which domi­nates the central public space. “My wife is the master organizer,” says Paul. “In Japan space is so tight, I think it is in their DNA.” The kitchen and wall-storage system by the German com­pany Leicht continues the muted design palette and conceals it all from the microwave to the dishes.

    leicht.de

    Photo by: Jessica Haye and Clark Hsiao

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  Easy BreezyA deft cross-ventilation system keeps things cool in the summer. A series of tilt-turn low-E wood window-doors by Swiss manufacturer Gautschi not only allows passage to the side yard and a bit of extra natural light but, when tilted down, permits breezes to pass through the house.gautschi-ag.ch  Photo by: Jessica Haye and Clark Hsiao
    Easy Breezy

    A deft cross-ventilation system keeps things cool in the summer. A series of tilt-turn low-E wood window-doors by Swiss manufacturer Gautschi not only allows passage to the side yard and a bit of extra natural light but, when tilted down, permits breezes to pass through the house.

    gautschi-ag.ch

    Photo by: Jessica Haye and Clark Hsiao

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  Life PanelBecause the Japanese maple in the courtyard had to be planted before the ipe deck was laid, Kurath designed a small removable panel to allow access to the tree’s base. The Shozis can pull up the bit of decking to tend to the tree and replace it when they’re through. And because the boards line up perfectly, only the gardener need know it’s there.  Photo by: Jessica Haye and Clark Hsiao
    Life Panel

    Because the Japanese maple in the courtyard had to be planted before the ipe deck was laid, Kurath designed a small removable panel to allow access to the tree’s base. The Shozis can pull up the bit of decking to tend to the tree and replace it when they’re through. And because the boards line up perfectly, only the gardener need know it’s there.

    Photo by: Jessica Haye and Clark Hsiao

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  In the DoghousePaul and Shoko's dog, Mei, has lucked into a small prefab home of her own. Making use of a water jet cutter at his office, and using Adobe Illustrator as his design tool, Paul fashioned a series of panels that slot together without any nails or screws.  Photo by: Jessica Haye and Clark Hsiao
    In the Doghouse

    Paul and Shoko's dog, Mei, has lucked into a small prefab home of her own. Making use of a water jet cutter at his office, and using Adobe Illustrator as his design tool, Paul fashioned a series of panels that slot together without any nails or screws.

    Photo by: Jessica Haye and Clark Hsiao

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  The door to the house is actually on the side of the house, further adding to the sense of privacy the Shozis sought.  Photo by: Jessica Haye and Clark Hsiao

    The door to the house is actually on the side of the house, further adding to the sense of privacy the Shozis sought.

    Photo by: Jessica Haye and Clark Hsiao

  • 
  The pair of desks that Paul and Shoko work at in the office space look directly onto the courtyard. The concept for the design was to be able to see the sky from your seat at the desk.  Photo by: Jessica Haye and Clark Hsiao

    The pair of desks that Paul and Shoko work at in the office space look directly onto the courtyard. The concept for the design was to be able to see the sky from your seat at the desk.

    Photo by: Jessica Haye and Clark Hsiao

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  The pattern on the sheets (from Macy's house line) are one of the few breaks from the master bedroom's strong minimalism.  Photo by: Jessica Haye and Clark Hsiao

    The pattern on the sheets (from Macy's house line) are one of the few breaks from the master bedroom's strong minimalism.

    Photo by: Jessica Haye and Clark Hsiao

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  Though loads of natural light comes in from the courtyard, these large skylights also afford a view of the sky. The coffee table is from Modernica and the Eames Lounge is from Herman Miller.  Photo by: Jessica Haye and Clark Hsiao

    Though loads of natural light comes in from the courtyard, these large skylights also afford a view of the sky. The coffee table is from Modernica and the Eames Lounge is from Herman Miller.

    Photo by: Jessica Haye and Clark Hsiao

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  The Japanese maple gives the courtyard its peaceful character.  Photo by: Jessica Haye and Clark Hsiao

    The Japanese maple gives the courtyard its peaceful character.

    Photo by: Jessica Haye and Clark Hsiao

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  Here you can really see the tilt-up concrete panels that Kurath designed for the space. Each was made to be small enough to go up with a forklift. Don't miss a word of Dwell! Download our  FREE app from iTunes, friend us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter!   Photo by: Jessica Haye and Clark Hsiao

    Here you can really see the tilt-up concrete panels that Kurath designed for the space. Each was made to be small enough to go up with a forklift. 

    Don't miss a word of Dwell! Download our FREE app from iTunes, friend us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter!

    Photo by: Jessica Haye and Clark Hsiao

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