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Kinuta Terrace by Norm Architects & Keiji Ashizawa


In one of last year's 'Home Styling' posts on choosing the right coffee table, I featured a beautiful glass and timber sofa table by Karimoku Case Study. The table is part of a collection created for the Kinuta Terrace, a collaboration between Danish-based Norm Architects and Tokyo-native design studio Keiji Ashizawa. Emerged from shared design values, this stunning project takes its root in mutual admiration and a love for material richness and timeless appeal. Elements that are evident in both Danish and Japanese design traditions, today I am happy to share the full story with you. 

Located in Tokyo, Kinuta Terrace was originally built in the 1980s and comprises 36 units with an integrated courtyard, giving residents the advantages of a single-family home. In the spring of 2018, Ashizawa brought Norm Architects on board to collaborate on the renovation of two of the apartments. This process led to the two design studios partnering with Japan’s leading manufacturer of wooden furniture, Karimoku, during which the idea of a furniture series arose. Enter the Kinuta Collection, a series of 12 tailor-made furniture pieces that make up the inaugural collection of Karimoku Case Study, which you may also remember from the Kinfolk Gallery exhibition last year. Drawing heavily on the natural references of the connected courtyard in both their design language and material composition, the furniture and bespoke elements invite in nature as much as possible. 

Working with transparency, light and shadow, the collaborating studios have used the existing architecture to frame both the outside and the inside living spaces as a way of guiding its inhabitants from one space to the next. This sense of connection, where nature is integrated into the apartment, creates a unique and sanctuary-like feel, offering its residents a peaceful and harmonious home setting. 

Striking a balance between industrial design and a natural look and feel, each space has been designed to let air and light pass through, creating a natural flow throughout the apartment. Working with double height spaces and large windows, the surroundings are invited inside and vice versa. Repetitive patterns are used to create a soothing sensation, with staircases, rails and wall panels mimicking the pathways of the courtyard. This architectural approach has also been translated into the beautiful furniture pieces.

"There is an ever so valid need for natural and haptic interiors that can connect modern urban dwellers with a sense of nature in big cities, and through the unique skills and production capabilities of Karimoku, the collaborating studios were able to use the best possible natural materials for the bespoke furnishings, ultimately creating design that lasts, maintaining the highest possible standards throughout. The majority of the designs feature thoughtful details inspired by structures seen in Japanese temples and gardens; for example the rhythm of the roof lines in temples that the studios paid visits to are evident in the long coffee table." —Norm Architects  

Interior architecture by Keiji Ashizawa Design and Norm Architects in partnership with Karimoku Case Study and Karimoku Furniture

Photography by Jonas Bjerre-Poulsen

Images courtesy of Norm Architects 

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