When Masahiro and Mao Harada of Mount Fuji Architects Studio designed this tiny Tokyo home, they decided to cover the interior surfaces with oak boards hammered one-by-one into a honey-colored herringbone pattern. "Using a different material for the wall versus the ceiling versus the floor has become a symbol that signifies a typical ‘house,’" says Masahiro. "I wanted to get away from that and create something more like a cave. I thought that would free up the residents’ approach to how they proactively use the space." The resulting effect is elegant and warm—and a perfect foil to the home’s steely gray staircase.
Winifred Bird is a freelance journalist whose work focuses on nature and environmental issues. She has written for the Japan Times, Ode magazine, Mother Earth News, and Yale Environment 360, among other publications. For the past five years Winifred has lived in Japan, where she has learned to appreciate minimalism. When she's not writing, she enjoys gardening, cooking, and checking out old Japanese temples and shrines.