The tiny house was already a “choice” for some 1,000 years ago. In medieval Japan, people called their version of the tiny house 草庵 (so-an), “thatched hut” away from home. Practitioners of Buddhism, artists and/or wanderers created the “tiny house movement” and created so-an as a base for freer, ideal life.
Many people think that Japanese architecture is uniquely sustainable and in harmony with nature, and has a new potential to become an alternative to modern-era architecture. Is it true? The key is “aesthetics.” Unique perspectives on naturalism by Kengo Kuma, Toyo Ito, Sou Fujimoto, Tadao Ando.
“Tai-an” is the ultimate small tea hut, designed by the legendary tea master Sen no Rikyu. According to architect Kengo Kuma: “You won’t understand what Tai-an is all about until you actually crawl into this small hut and experience the very moment when the building, which is almost as small as your body, starts dissolving and enveloping your body softly and lightly, as if it were your clothes.”
Engawa, the narrow wooden strips attached around the periphery of a house has been an indispensable part of the traditional Japanese house, functioning as a sun porch, a workshop, a venue for socializing and a buffer to shield the house from harsh weather. Learn more about its various faces and versatile applications.
Japanese artist Mirei Shigemori (1896 – 1975) infused fresh energy into the traditional Japanese Zen rock garden (kare-sansui). Tofuku-ji Hojo garden in Kyoto is one of the most acclaimed works of his that still survives to this day. Find how traditional and modern, classic and avant-garde blend in his work while maintaining the serenity of Zen.
Katura Rikyu (Imperial Villa), built during the 17th century in Kyoto by an aristocrat family, is often dubbed as the culmination of traditional Japanese architecture. Its simplicity is very “modern.” You will be amazed how the fine, subtle lines define architecture so cleanly and potently, and how it dissolves into nature seamlessly but elegantly.
What’s the common secret behind traditional Zen arts/culture, wabi-sabi, MUJI, Japanese architecture, sushi and Totoro? It’s the unique approach toward nature.
Kengo Kuma leads the world of architecture by focusing on offering new ways to connect our delicate body to nature. What is his view on attractive cities?
We are obsessed with shoes. A pair that perfectly fits our feet is hard to find. When we repair such pairs, we are renewing our relationships with them.
Kintsugi” is a traditional Japanese technique to repair broken ceramics, but it’s something that will change your definition of “repair.” Using glue and gold or silver powder, Kintsugi “heals” injured ceramics and give them new life, embracing the wound. It is fascinating.
Circular economy already existed 300 years ago in Edo (Tokyo). It was filled with lively, resilient people and opportunities for design. Get inspired by their energy and creativity.
Roll back the clock 1,000 years to the Heian Era to find the origin of the elusive and ambiguous Japanese aesthetics where the aristocrats explored the culture of “mono no aware.” It is amazing to find how much the aesthetic style had changed, but the fundamentals remain the same to this day.
Kenya Hara is a Japanese graphic designer who helped cement the philosophy of Japanese brand MUJI by leveraging the concept of “emptiness.” Even though these concepts might appear similar, “emptiness” in Japanese aesthetics is different from Western “simplicity,” observes Hara. Ultimately it has to do with how we perceive our relationship with nature.
Is white a color? Or is it absence of color? Discover through Harunobu Suzuki’s Ukiyo-e.
If you want to introduce Zen-taste minimalist design, what are the tips? There are several critical Zen aesthetics such as “subtraction”, “condensation” and “absence” that strongly influenced modern minimalist design. Find them through MUJI and other iconic product design.