Karimoku opens a showroom in Kyoto inspired by traditional houses… – Dezeen | NutSocia

Designer Keiji Ashizawa has designed the interior of Japanese furniture brand Karimoku’s second showroom, which features a combination of its own wooden furniture and pieces by local artists and craftspeople.

Housed in a three-story building, the Karimoku Commons brand describes Kyoto as a “hybrid space” that will function as a showroom and also house office space for employees.

The space is housed in a former machiya – a traditional Japanese wooden townhouse – in Kyoto, a city known for its temples, Shinto shrines and gardens.

The showroom is located in a townhouse in Kyoto

Ashizawa, who has worked with Karimoku for years and also designed its first showroom in Tokyo, drew on the history of both the city and the building when designing the interior.

“I really wanted to use the language of the townhouse and also took inspiration from the Kyoto Gardens,” Ashizawa told Dezeen.

For the ground floor area of ​​the showroom, he took inspiration from the doma areas of traditional Japanese homes, which had bare dirt floors and acted as a bridge between indoors and outdoors.

Ground floor of Keiji Ashizawa's Kyoto showroom
It features wooden furniture and paneling by Karimoku

Here Ashizawa placed light wood furniture, including chairs by British architect Norman Foster and pieces by Danish studio Norm Architects and Ashizawa himself.

The floor is gray concrete, complemented by light gray plaster walls and a ceiling of the same color.

Living room of Karimoku Commons Kyoto
Art and ceramics by Japanese artists adorn the space

Wooden slats, traditionally used in Kyoto homes and businesses to let light into buildings while maintaining privacy, cover portions of the glazing at the front of the room.

Karimoku’s light wood paneling hides built-in storage spaces and acts as a shelf.

First floor of Karimoku Commons Kyoto
The first floor has a darker color palette

On the first floor, Ashizawa opted for a darker color palette with smoked oak furniture and dark wood floors and wall panels.

“When you visit a tourist house or a temple in Kyoto, like on the temple floors, the old wood is very dark in color,” he said. “I thought a color like that should be the key color [for the project].”

The layout of this area was also based on the walkways and paths of the temple gardens of Kyoto.

“It’s more of a guide on how to articulate the space,” Ashizawa explained. “We can think of the furniture like a work of art or a stone – it’s a kind of installation.”

Wall niche made of wood in the Karimoku showroom
A wall niche functions as a Tokonoma exhibition space

The top floor of Karimoku Commons Kyoto will function as a “library room” and showcase the latest collections and collaborations from contemporary brands Case Study, Karimoku New Standard, MAS and Ishinomaki Laboratory.

Throughout the exhibition space, earthy ceramics and roughly hewn sculptures by Japanese artists have been used for decoration, enhancing the organic feel the wood brings.

Pieces by ceramics brand Nota Shop in nearby Shiga Prefecture and vases by Kyoto artist Ai Ono were among the objects chosen for the space by stylist Yumi Nakata, who collaborated with Ashizawa on the project.

These were placed on tables and shelves, and in wall niches inspired by traditional Japanese tokonoma niches where homeowners displayed artistic objects.

Dark wood furniture in Keiji Ashizawa's showroom in Kyoto
Keiji Ashizawa designed the interior of the showroom

“There are so many places to show something,” Ashizawa said of Karimoku Commons Kyoto.

“In a traditional Japanese house, there are many rooms like this that display paintings, ceramics or flowers, which I think is one of the beauties of the culture of the Japanese house. In many ways we tried to create such a space.”

Top floor of Karimoku Commons Kyoto
The upper floor displays a variety of pieces of furniture

Karimoku, Japan’s largest wooden furniture brand, began manufacturing traditional Japanese furniture.

It is also now working with a number of designers on the more modern sub-brands Case Study, Karimoku New Standard, MAS and Ishinomaki Laboratory, the four brands sold in the Karimoku Commons Kyoto showroom.

Interior by Keiji Ashizawa for Karimoku
The Kyoto space is Karimoku’s second showroom after Tokyo

Ashikawa hopes the space will help promote a modern design aesthetic.

“Karimoku tries to promote modern furniture in modern life,” he said. “I have to explain the Japanese housing situation – for example, in 1960, sixty years ago, we didn’t have a lot of furniture in the living room.”

“And then modern living space came to Japan and people started buying their tables, chairs and even the sofa; it’s pretty new, so people don’t necessarily understand how to use a sofa,” he added.

“Japanese living spaces can be too chaotic, so it’s quite nice to show them that way.”

Ashizawa’s previous projects include a curvilinear tofu restaurant and a blue bottle coffee shop in Kobe. Karimoku recently worked with Foster on a furniture collection used at the Architect’s Foster Retreat in Martha’s Vineyard.

Photography is by Tomooki Kengaku.

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