NUMBER SUGAR Omotesando Shop

year

2021

location

Tokyo, Japan

architect

ya Inc.

method

Extrusion

volume

Quantity 67m2

photographer

photo: Kenta Hasegawa

Q&A with Ryosuke Yamamoto

1. Please tell us a bit about this architectural project and the design concepts used in the space.

The project was a shop for Number Sugar, a manufacturer and retailer of handmade caramels. The aim was to increase customers’ expectations for the white boxes of caramels by incorporating elements of those caramels into the shop’s interior.

2. In which part of the space did you use tiles, and why?

Tiles have been used from waist level down. I thought that this would help to create a setting that enhances the appeal of the products on display.

3. Can you explain your thoughts and ideas that led to this particular tile design?

I wanted to use materials made from natural ingredients, just like the products, which led me to use tiles made from soil. Rather than creating a space using pre-existing tiles from a catalogue, I wanted to create a space that was compatible with the products and so I designed the tiles, starting with their shape, texture and colour.

4. Please tell us about the design concept for the tiles you used.

Rather than focusing on individually unique tiles, I wanted their attributes, such as uneven colours and distortions, to become apparent when they were assembled together. By arranging the tiles based on a regular perpendicular grid, I aimed to provide a feel for their distortions and varying expressions.
The tiles used for the edges were assembled and fixed prior to firing, allowing for the creation of a caramel-like mass. This connects to the hand-cut shape of the caramels, which is never perfectly rectangular.
Also, the tiles and the caramels share the same proportions.

5. What was it like to produce your own original tiles?

I visited the tile factory in Tajimi, where I was able to gain an understanding of the production process and do a variety of studies. It wasn’t only about the appearance [of the finished product], but comparing different processes from the moulding stage onwards. Discussions were held during the production, allowing me to create something that wasn’t superficial.

6. What are your thoughts regarding tiles in comparison with other materials?

I had the impression that tiles were a product with a predetermined expression based on specifications. However, I now see them as a material that can be produced in a more creative manner.

7. If you have any personal memories or thoughts about tiles, please share them with us.

Looking back through my previous work, I had never really thought about creating a design based on tiles. The reason is that I had the impression I would be using something that had already been designed, but as a result of this project, rather than starting with the tiles themselves, I now look further back and start with the soil they’re made from.

8. In your opinion, what are the characteristics and strengths of Tajimi tiles?

Tajimi has a range of factories specialising in different methods of production and it was reassuring to be able to work with various factories based on what I wanted to produce. Some of my friends, who are around my age, are based in Tajimi and I got the impression there are young creators producing new things and places.



Ryosuke Yamamoto / ya Inc.
After graduating from Tokyo University of the Arts in 2011, Yamamoto worked for Schemata Architects. He founded Ya in 2018 and works on design projects ranging from architecture to interiors, commercial spaces and furniture. Throughout the design process, he places importance on dialogue with both people and place, which is reflected in his carefully composed spaces. His recent projects include Number Sugar, Sta. and the exhibition design for “Found Muji: A Journey to Encounter Wonderful Things”.
ya-a.jp

ARTS & SCIENCE FUKUOKA

year

2021

location

Fukuoka, Japan

architect

CASE-REAL

method

Extrusion

volume

Quantity 91m2

photographer

photo: Hiroshi Mizusaki

Q&A with Koichi Futatsumata

1. Please tell us a bit about this architectural project and the design concepts used in the space.

The project was the design of Arts & Science’s shop in Fukuoka. It’s located in a quiet residential area alongside Ohori Park, so I thought it would be good to merge the great location with the shop’s atmosphere. The tiles are a reproduction of those used for the Fukuoka Art Museum, which is located nearby in the park. Those glazed tiles, which were used by the architect Kunio Maekawa, have a rich expression and are like a symbol of the area, so I felt they’d match the shop well.

2. In which part of the space did you use tiles, and why?

In addition to a large wall behind the counter, they’ve also been used for displays and in show windows. The same tiles have been used to create displays for accessories and other small items, as well as for outside flooring. There was a wall behind the counter that couldn’t be removed due to structural considerations, but I came up with the idea to cover it with tiles to create a symbolic image. Also, I thought that I could strengthen that image by presenting the tiles not only on walls, but as smaller elements.

3. Can you explain your thoughts and ideas that led to this particular tile design?

The Fukuoka Art Museum tiles are originals, but after some investigation, I learnt that it would be difficult to manufacture tiles in the same place. In light of this, the design resulted from wanting to reproduce the size, colours and textures as much as possible.

4. What was it like to produce your own original tiles?

At first, I tried to create multiple tiles with subtle differences in colour, but I eventually decided to use a single tile with variations resulting from the temperature differences inside the kiln. I felt that these imperfections of sorts had a richness, born from colour gradations that can’t be calculated.

5. What are your thoughts regarding tiles in comparison with other materials?

When using tiles on a large surface, I often feel that they are both uniform and non-uniform. This is especially true for glazed tiles. If a tile is completely uniform it can appear a bit out of place; finding non-uniform expressions enriching is something that a lot of people can probably relate to.

6. If you have any personal memories or thoughts about tiles, please share them with us.

I grew up in an old wooden house and can still remember the light blue-coloured 100 millimetre tiles used in the wet areas. It’s not something that I think about much, but on a subconscious level, perhaps tiles make me feel a little bit nostalgic.

7. In your opinion, what are the characteristics and strengths of Tajimi tiles

I feel that Tajimi’s strengths lie in the ability to adjust according to subtle nuances of colour and texture. On this occasion, there was an existing base to work off and so through our efforts to reproduce it, I gained an even greater appreciation of these strengths.



Koichi Futatsumata / CASE-REAL
Spatial and product designer.
Futatsumata studied architecture at university and began working independently after graduating. He is the representative director of Case-Real, focusing on spatial design, and Koichi Futatsumata Studio, which specialises in product design. Based in Fukuoka and Tokyo, he works on design projects in Japan and abroad, spanning the fields of architecture, interiors, furniture and products.
casereal.com

Kew residence

year

2020

location

Melbourne, Australia

architect

John Wardle Architects

method

Extrusion

volume

Quantity 41m2

photographer

Photo: Gavin Green

Q&A with John Wardle

1. Please tell us a bit about this architectural project and the design concepts used in the space.

This is the third refurbishment of my family home over twenty-five years of ownership, corresponding with the ebbs and flows of life.  The opportunity was to design spaces for socialising and for retreat; to tailor spaces for specific objects of importance, beauty and meaning.  My study features a corner window arrangement and is a direct reference to a composition of the window seat in the living room of the Fisher House in Pennsylvania by Louis Kahn, a favourite of mine since student days. 

2. In which part of the space did you use tiles, and why?

There are tiles throughout the house – in the kitchen, living room hearth, two bathrooms, and powder room. I am always looking out for beautiful, original shapes, colours and textures. The tiles we used in our house were all quite varied and each bought a different character to each of the spaces, from earthy to very refined finishes they are used to highlight and contrast features. This time, I made original tiles with Tajimi Custom Tiles for the kitchen and powder room.

3. About kitchen tiles

Why did you use this shape of tile at kitchen?

This tile was chosen for its shape, colour and finish. The concave shape of the tiles and the textural finish add depth and interest to the walls.

Can you explain your thoughts and ideas that led to this particular tile design?

In the kitchen I used simple but beautiful materials – timber, stone and ceramic tiles. The quiet colour selection though the kitchen allows the focus to be on the qualities inherent in each of these materials. We pay attention to the size, shape and finish of each, and appreciate the way they individually bring the space together as a whole.

4. About powder room tiles

Why did you use this shape of tiles at powder room?

The tile used in the powder room has a very striking and original texture. Each tile is individual. The shape intrigued me, and the variant shades of green were also an important feature.  I used this tile because the combination of effects in this space were very pleasing to me.

Can you explain your thoughts and ideas that led to this particular tile design?

Part of the refurbishment included the addition of a new powder room on the ground level. It features an exceptional tile that has been resurrected from a rare sample I was shown this particular sample by an acquaintance during a visit to one of the Tajimi factories. Each tile displays irregularities and unique qualities of the process of making, the handmade glaze further highlights many of these peculiarities.  The quality of light changes the colour and shades of the tiles. 

Please tell us about the design concept for the tiles you used.

In a small space I was interested in creating a feeling of immersion and calm. This tile embodies the feeling of the outdoors which is a clean, fresh and peaceful place for me, almost like a bamboo forest centered within the house.

5. Why did you choose a custom-made tile for this interior?

Each custom-made tile has its own unusual character, being able to see the evidence of the maker in the tile is fascinating to me – the scoring process and the application of glaze is different in each tile. I consider it a piece of art. 

6. What are your thoughts regarding tiles in comparison with other materials?

Learning the craft of making tile, its uses, As an architect I am fascinated with the handmade and the traditions that go along with making of these things. I am particularly attracted to ceramics in all forms as they can show moments in time, various technologies and exhibit the cultural practices of their era.

7. If you have any personal memories or thoughts about tiles, please share them with us.

We use tiles extensively in our projects at John Wardle Architects. One specific project comes to mind which is the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music at the University of Melbourne where we embedded hand-made ceramic tiles into the pre-cast concrete façade, in a pattern evocative of musical notation. The idea was to make this large public building more meaningful by using a small handmade tile. Their scale is something others can connect too.

8. In your opinion, what are the characteristics and strengths of Tajimi tiles?

What attracts me to these Tajimi tiles are their individuality. I love being able to see the work of the maker in each tile, and that no two are the same. 



John Wardle / John Wardle Architects
John Wardle is an internationally renowned architect and the founder of John Wardle Architects (JWA), which has studios in Sydney and Melbourne. The work of JWA is tailored to place and highly experiential in nature. Diverse in scale and typology, its portfolio spans domestic dwellings, university buildings, museums and large commercial offices. 

The practice has won national and international awards for education, residential and civic design. John speaks regularly at national and international conferences, recently as keynote at the World Architecture Festival, and maintains strong ties to the Australian arts community and academia. He is Adjunct Professor at University of South Australia. In 2020, John was honoured with the Australian Institute of Architects’ highest individual distinction, the Gold Medal.
johnwardlearchitects.com

SKINCARE LOUNGE BY ORBIS

year

2020

location

Tokyo, Japan

architect

MMA Inc.

method

Extrusion

volume

Quantity 100m2

photographer

photo:Takashi Kawashima

Q&A with Momoko Kudo

1. Please tell us a bit about this architectural project and the design concepts used in the space.

 The first flagship shop for the skincare and cosmetics brand Orbis. ‘Comfort’ is a keyword for the brand and so to convey this feeling through the space, I used soil (tiles), light, wind and greenery.

2. In which part of the space did you use tiles, and why?

The main area, which is located immediately after the entrance. I used tiles to embody the concept mentioned above, as well as from a functional perspective in the wet area.

3. Can you explain your thoughts and ideas that led to this particular tile design?

I wanted to reproduce the brand’s colour and try to create organic, hand-cut tiles. 

4. Please tell us about the design concept for the tiles you used.

Tiles are industrial products and so I assumed that they were all the same. However, quite a lot of old tiles have colour variations, due to uneven firing, and I really liked their organic nature. I was interested in the possibility of making something with those kinds of organic variations, but in a controlled manner. I also heard that many tiles are discarded due to uneven colouring, so in order to reduce waste I incorporated variations from the beginning, and asked for the tiles to be produced with the intention of using all of them.

5. Why did you choose a custom made tile for this interior?

The tile maker paid attention to the finest of details and enjoyed the production process. The resulting tiles are unlike anything I’ve ever seen before and so I’m really satisfied.

6. What are your thoughts regarding tiles in comparison with other materials?

I had a strong impression that tiles were an industrial product. They are reliable, but I felt that they may also become boring. When I went to see the tiles being made, most of the work was done by hand, which was really different to what I had expected.  

7. In your opinion, what are the characteristics and strengths of Tajimi tiles?

Tajimi has various makers who possess a wide range of technology, so I felt that it was well suited to the development of original products. I had the impression that tiles vary little between makers, but Tajimi tiles stand out for their different characteristics and increase the possibility of creating something memorable.



Momoko Kudo / MMA Inc.
After graduating from the Environmental Design Department at Tama Art University, Kudo completed the masters program at the Fujimori Lab at Kogakuin University’s Graduate School. In 2016 she founded Momoko Kudo Architects (currently known as MMA inc.). From architecture to interior and exhibition design, she designs spaces across a range of genres. Her recent works include House in Hasami, the venue layout for the Yokohama Triennale and Skincare Lounge by ORBIS.
momokokudo.com

Blue Bottle Coffee Hong Kong Central Cafe

year

2020

location

Central, Hong Kong

architect

Schemata Architects

method

Extrusion

volume

Quantity 190m2

photographer

Q&A with Jo Nagasaka

1. Please tell us a bit about this architectural project and the design concepts used in the space.

Blue Bottle Coffee does not use the same shop-layout for each branch, but rather uses different designs for each location, in each city. Each branch has its own look that reflects the character of its surrounding area. This reflection of place is one of the distinctive qualities of Blue Bottle Coffee, with each shop in each location having a different design composed of different materials. In keeping with that concept, we decided to use tiles that are similar to the ones that can be found throughout the streets of Hong Kong, as a suitable material for the first ever Blue Bottle Coffee in the city.

2.  In which part of the space did you use tiles, and why?

The tiles were used on the main counter, the benches and the floors. This way, the tiles would not just be seen, but “felt” as the customers organically interact with them. 

3. Can you explain your thoughts and ideas that led to this particular tile design?

The tiles seen throughout Hong Kong are made using a manufacturing process called “dry press” and consequently have a very uniform texture. Therefore, we decided instead to use a traditional “wet”* process for the tiles for this project. During this process, due to uneven shrinking during the firing, the tiles do not attain a uniform finish. Using tiles that each individually have a slightly different shape and feel, I think we were able to create a cafe that is somewhat typical for Hong Kong, yet hadn’t existed before.

4. Please tell us about the design concept for the tiles you used.

The tiles we used have a grey base, speckled with white glaze. When placed in the pre-existing concrete environment, the white spots on the tiles create an array of greys, making the tiles appear as if the grey of the concrete around had been cut out into a mosaic. By blending the tiles in with the pre-existing materials, we were able to create a harmonious space.

5. Why did you choose a custom made tile for this interior?

By using a “wet” production method to create the grey tile base, and then dripping white glaze onto each tile, subtle variations were produced among the tiles. As a result, it was possible to achieve a variety of appearances, even just within the color grey. This aesthetic, that harmonises in such an interesting way with the mottled grey of the surrounding concrete, was only made possible by creating a custom made tile.

6. What are your thoughts regarding tiles in comparison with other materials?

I may have had a preconceived notion that all tiles were ready-made, so I had not used them much before. However, going to Tajimi and learning more about tiles taught me the depth of the craft, and the experimental aspect made me very interested in using them.

7. If you have any personal memories or thoughts about tiles, please share them with us.

I’ve seen glaze used expressively many times at the Milan Furniture Fair, and you could call it a recent global trend. I think that might be because for designers there are elements that are uncontrollable, leading to unexpected results that can be exciting. It could be a kind of reaction against the current availability of tools like 3D printing and rendering that allow everyone a high degree of control. People may wish for something external to provide a chance for something accidental. I also like to work creatively in a way that is similar to a chemistry experiment.

8. In your opinion, what are the characteristics and strengths of Tajimi tiles?

Tajimi tiles differ from tiles made in other countries because each has a slightly different color and shape, which gives them the unique feel of Japanese ceramics. Tile makers in Tajimi try to continually evolve their craftsmanship and develop something more creative, and that way of thinking is their strength.



Jo Nagasaka / Schemata Architects
Jo Nagasaka established Schemata Architects in 1998 and is currently based in Sendagaya, Tokyo. The scale of his work ranges from furniture and architecture to urban development, while also spanning multiple genres. Working in Japan and abroad, he discovers new perspectives from within existing environments, while establishing his own vision through unique ideas such as subtraction, the update of knowledge and invisible development. Selected Works:Blue Bottle Coffee /Kuwabara shouten/ HAY.
schemata.jp