Akitoshi Ukai’s designs are a photographer’s dream. Simple and sparse, they exist by the logic of their own geometry, where angles incorporate windows that magically throw triangles of light on vast rectangular inner surfaces. Staircases curl around corners, or diagonally break space between beams. Floors are made of wood, their planks running in tandem the length of a room. Squared shelving mimics picture frames, a metaphor I suppose as the books and objects they contain are a reflection of the owner.
Imagine, for a moment, a Japanese style home. What materials spring to mind? What are the essential elements? Typically we would expect soft, muted tones; wood, bamboo, and paper finishings; with green tatami matting, sliding screens, and paper lamps casting a gentle meditative light. There in the corner of the main room is a focal point, an alcove, called a tokonoma, where our gaze is attracted by a piece of art. Perhaps a kakejiku, a hanging scroll, is hanging from the wall, and beneath it there is placed something that represents an idealized vision of the natural world. It might be an ancient bonsai tree, or perhaps within a beautiful ceramic vase there is a skillfull arrangement of flowers, leaves and branches. In his latest piece for the ZenVita blog, garden expert Mark Hovane takes a closer look at Ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arrangement, and celebrates its role bringing nature, art, and harmony into the home.
Working through his firm Mega, Nagasaka specializes in the design of private homes, aiming to “adopt an inclusive and holistic approach to the process of design and development.” “Cozy” may not necessarily be a frequently used term in the lexicon of architecture, but it probably should be, particularly if used to refer to someone’s personal residence. It is certainly in the vocabulary of Dai Nagasaka, having appeared as the name of a number of his works.
This summer our editor, Michael Lambe, sat down in a Kyoto cafe with Kaz Shigemitsu the founder of ZenVita. They talked about his background, about his company's mission to promote Japanese architects and designers overseas, and about his future plans for ZenVita.