Japanese-born, and educated both in New York and in London where he worked under Rem Koolhaas, the Australian-based interior architect Koichi Takada takes nature as his inspiration, and to infinitely modern effect.
The word “luxury”, to Koichi Takada, means something far from the idea of artificial, over-stylised and polished but rather the opposite: let the rawness of nature come forth to engage the senses in a richer sort of beauty that is expressed through colour, texture and quality. The result is design environments that create a sense of retreat, similar to the effect nature has on uplifting energy and recharging the mind. Collect captures Takada in conversation about how getting back to nature is all about a space to breathe even whilst inside.
What attracts you to nature as your main source of inspiration?
I am fascinated with nature. Nature teaches us that there is more to architecture than just creating beautiful forms. The feeling of a soft breeze, the acoustics in a cave or the ambience of natural light through a tree canopy – these are elements we cannot draw, but try to involve in the experience of a design, in particular how an experience changes over time.
How do your Japanese roots influence your work?
Growing up in Japan, I learnt and experienced an inherent sense of minimalist lifestyle. Not minimalist in the sense of design, but how you can use thoughts and imagination to put more emphasis on the ‘invisible’ experience rather than ‘visible’ and materialistic objects. In Japan, where the majority of land is mountainous, the use of every land or space is considered valuable. If you are only living in a small space, like an apartment, you want to connect to nature. Whether it’s a park in front of you, a tree, a hill, the sky, or light, you seek a connection. This experience in Japan inspires my designs in blurring the boundary between architecture and nature, and to focus on an experience or a lifestyle rather than an aesthetic.
How do you express nature in your work?
In nature nothing is straight – every tree has a different shape or proportions. Nature constantly adapts to the changing environment. We see architecture as being very similar to nature. Whilst working with Ateliers Jean Nouvel and Patrick Blanc on One Central Park East in Sydney, we were instantly drawn to the vertical gardens and the concept of having a garden amidst high-rise city living. A key to creating the ‘raw luxury’ experience lies in reintroducing nature back into our city life. As a starting point, I asked my team to go to nature and bring back pieces, such as beautiful leaves, branches, driftwood, stones, rocks and sand. We studied the colour, texture and patterns of natural materials and put together two colour schemes based on the combination of the natural materials, connecting with the vertical gardens: one neutral colour scheme called Organic, and an alternate colour scheme called Spice. Both interiors have neutral colours as a base to reflect ample natural light, and are rich with natural texture evident evident in the timber sliding screens and stone of warmth. Natural materials create a timeless quality and then combining them with the artificial base further enchances the richness of it being natural.
What is the quintessence of luxury in your field?
We are surrounded with an overwhelming amount of ‘things’ today. They reflect our busy lifestyles. Many of these things are products of ‘fast living’. To me, breathing space is a very important part of our busy lifestyles and everyone needs it to escape. In architecture, an emphasis can be put on the void space as breathing space. The ‘in between’ space is where you can look to find infinite opportunities to escape. Luxury to me is allowing space to breath. A design that is open and transparent provides a connection to nature. This space of retreat is a so called ‘slow space’, an environment that allows the concept of time to disappear. Luxury is also in the quality of crafted and personalized living as opposed to quantity or mass production, and more so by designing sustainable living over time. Architecture should always be considered in relation to time, because time is the ultimate ‘luxury’.
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COLLECT is the magazine of the Dorchester Collection, which comprises leading hotels between Europe and North America, each with its distinctive heritage, individuality and style. Yaffa Assouline, founder of the online magazine luxuryculture.com, curates a dynamic editorial mix of features, interviews, profiles and insider city guides by leaders in luxury, art, design and fashion.