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