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A perfectly balanced picture of industrial Zen

by Michele Koh Morollo on Jun 11, 2015 in Interiors
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Seen through its aquarium-like glass frontage, clothing and staff within the Sisii showroom and office look like actors performing on stage to create an eye-catching public showcase (© Daici Ano)

Seen through its aquarium-like glass frontage, clothing and staff within the Sisii showroom and office look like actors performing on stage to create an eye-catching public showcase (© Daici Ano)

Fashion, nature and business meet at the Kobe showroom and office of Japanese leatherwear brand Sisii

Japanese leatherwear brand Sisii is all about bold, natural minimalism, and in Kobe, this raw, stylish energy is embodied in its press office and retail showroom. Breaking away from tried and true interior design conventions, the project's principal architect, Yuko Nagayama of Tokyo practice Yuko Nagayama & Associates, created a place where the concepts of 'up and down' and 'indoors and outdoors' are turned on their heads.

The result is a multi-functional space with shifting levels and indoor pocket gardens that seems at first somewhat disorienting, but then slowly becomes a perfectly balanced picture of industrial Zen.

"Sisii is well known for its leather jacket and products. They make garments with simple and sharp shapes with quality materials, so we chose materials like a black iron sheet to give the interior a soft and sharp feel befitting of the brand," Nagayama explains.

The Sisii brand was born in Motomachi in Kobe in 2001, and its head designer Takashi Koije wanted a showroom in Kobe that would appeal to both Japanese and international buyers. He had three requirements in his brief: that buyers should be able to see and touch the clothes; that staff should be able to conduct their work there, and that it should be a space where Sisii can meet with potential clients.

A sunken workspace places staff among the products on display throughout the showroom (© Daici Ano)

A sunken workspace places staff among the products on display throughout the showroom (© Daici Ano)

Koije wanted his staff to be inspired and happy working in this space. He did well in commissioning the interior to Nagayama, and the landscape design to Toshiya Ogino. The pair collaborated beautifully — Ogino used local lava stones and indigenous plants, including Japanese red pines, to assemble tranquil interior gardens, while Nagayama harmonised the garden elements and the functional requirements with a thin steel-plate floor that hovers 28 inches above the original floor of the building.

Sections within this suspended iron sheet were cut out, and trees and shrubs planted within the cut-outs (below the raised steel-plate floor) to represent the landscape of the outer Rokko Mountains of Japan's Hyōgo Prefecture. "The iron sheets are partially peeled and hoisted, and turned into a meeting space, and the office into a large desk," says Nagayama.

The colour palette for a major proportion of Sisii's products is earth toned, so the hanging garments have the appearance of leaves or insect pupae suspended on trees (© Daici Ano)

The colour palette for a major proportion of Sisii's products is earth toned, so the hanging garments have the appearance of leaves or insect pupae suspended on trees (© Daici Ano)

This is a preview of the “A perfectly balanced picture of industrial Zen" article from the June 2015 issue of Perspective magazine.

To continue reading, get your copy of Perspective.

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