Oki Sato’s Wonderful Interior Life

Oki Sato’s Wonderful Interior Life

Speaking at Toronto’s Interior Design Show next week, the founder of Tokyo studio Nendo is best known for creating super-minimal furnishings. But he also masterminds stunning shops for such top brands as Camper and Issey Miyake. Here are five of our favourites.

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The shop's interior can be completely reconfigured as needed.

1 Beige in Tokyo

The women’s clothing brand Beige offers simple, functional apparel. In fashioning its Tokyo boutique, Nendo adopted a complementary no-fuss palette using just three materials: c-beam structural steel for the shop’s main armature, drywall for dividers and curtains for privacy. The space can be completely “reshuffled,” by adding or removing hanger rods, light fixtures and shelving units as needed.

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In Halsuit, workmanlike desks are used to display shirts.

2 Halsuit in Okayama

For Halsuit, a men’s suit retailer in Japan, the studio solved a number of challenges many large, high-volume stores face, including how not to overwhelm customers with with too many options and how to keep the shoppers’ companions entertained. To solve the first problem, the studio conjured a similar environment to the workplace, with accessories displayed on conference tables outfitted with desk lamps and shelving in the style of office storage units; shoppers make their purchases at a “reception desk.” To solve the second, Nendo installed a counter with magazines and televisions next to fitting room areas to keep co-shoppers happily distracted.

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This white-washed Camper shop emphasizes the product.

3 Camper in Osaka

The stripped-down aesthetic for which Nendo is so well-known is fully deployed at this monotone Camper store. Apart from the company’s logo, and a smattering of its red metal stools, the retail outlet is entirely white, directing all the attention onto Camper’s colourful footwear. Shoes are lined up along narrow display shelves and – to heighten the sensation of lightness – thin pipes rising from the floor create nearly invisible mounts, to make the shoes look like they are walking on air.

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Giant and tiny furnishings fill Baby Café on Tokyo's Omotesando boulevard.

4 Tokyo Baby Cafe in Omotesando

Nendo played with scale in a big way when commissioned to design this kid-friendly café. Open since 2008, the interior features furnishings super-sized and ultra-small so parents and children can experience the world through each other’s eyes. Big windows are paired with small windows, large light fixtures with tiny ones, and the aisles are kept extra wide to accommodate strollers. The most eye-catching feature, though, is the huge powder-blue nursing sofa that doubles as a protected play area for toddlers.

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Bags and clothing rest on rods in 24, Issey Miyake's store for more affordable items.

5. 24 Issey Miyake in Tokyo

Issey Miyake was one of Sato’s earliest fans. The couturier dined at a restaurant where the younger designer had covered the walls, furniture and exterior with yards of unbleached canvas. Miyake was so impressed he invited Sato to design 24 – a concept store for some of the more affordably priced Miyake items. Into the floor, Sato embedded a large cluster of seven-millimetre-diameter steel rods of different lengths, creating a display surface without an actual tabletop. Uneven and nearly transparent, the “table” shows off the unstructured appeal of Miyake’s colourful Baobao bags and Pleats Please clothing.

Don’t miss Oki Sato’s Azure-sponsored talk at the Interior Design Show 2013, at 11am on Friday, January 25, 2013.

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