Simplicity: the central idea and primary force behind the movement of Japanese minimalism. Minimalism is the art of stripping things down to their essential element—as it was in literature, art and all other aesthetic fields, so too in the realms of architecture and interior design. Minimalism finds its roots in the the Japanese traditional culture of Zen, a philosophy which, through a range of conventions and ideas surrounding the idea of simplicity, helps achieve and transmit ideas of freedom, life force, and the easy flow of energy (which is more or less what we're all trying to achieve in our homes).
Today on homify, we're getting our Zen on with a compelling look at the work of Nobuyoshi Hayashi, a heavily minimalism-influenced Japanese architect from Nagoya City, the largest largest city in the Chūbu region of Japan. Hayashi's House of Moriyama is an artful example of modern Japanese minimalism at play.
First impressions last, and the exterior to our homes more or less set the tone for the experience we and our guests are likely to have when setting foot into our domestic spaces. The exterior of the House of Moriyama exudes a compelling and very interesting blend of angles and approach.
Hayashi has created a unique pitched roof structure, with a feature lit front study area, a single second story window warm lit from the inside, with a strong wooden door uniting these two disparate, yet blended, exterior shapes. This is simplicity with style, an unconventional frontage that prompts further curiosity.
Venturing further into the interior, we find ourselves in the midst of a very impressive kitchen and dining space. Firstly, we notice the rich tones of the parquetry flooring: decadent wood, almost mahogany in colour, vivid in texture.
This flooring wouldn't be out of place in a modern deco apartment—a hint of Western aesthetic here—contrasting and fusing neatly with the minimalist touches on show: a dining table stands stoic, four chairs in symmetrical alignment under a single downlamp; the lines of the windows are clean and open, conducive to excellent natural light—a central tenet of minimalist design—and this motif carries right on through to the lines of the kitchen and its preparation spaces.
The fusion of Eastern minimalism and notes of Western flourish are again on show here in this setting. As we wander further in towards the kitchen, we prepare to take our seat at the serving table, spying the tasteful inclusion of a wooden framed lounge, which matches the exposed wood of the vaulted ceiling, and the tables and chairs delightfully. We also gain a new lens on that feature downlamp: a golden bell top, hanging half-low by iron wall suspension.
Hints of sleek-lined windows match the overall minimalist motif, while a light violet matte wall effect adds further intrigue and dreaminess. Of all the spaces in this home, this perhaps best exemplifies the minimalist tenet of 'Wabi Sabi': the valuing of simple and plain objects to reveal their intrinsic 'quietness' and innate character.
As we venture through the front wooden door and into the home, we're greeted by steps to the living area and, to the side, the staircase to the second story dining and kitchen space. We instantly feel a sense of ease and comfort walking in: the elements of minimalism are working to full effect (breeziness, windows, lack of clutter, light tones), while the more modern elements (parquetry, nouveau lounge furniture, fittings) add to the depth and sense of welcome.
While we saw this room warmly lit earlier from outside in the picture of the exterior, we now find ourselves in the heart of the interior. On first impressions, this space appears as if it could work as an unorthodox indoor patio. However, It may come as a surprise for some that Hayashi has chosen this feature front room to function as a study space—with its unexposed frontage and double windows, it would no doubt be a rather fine space for this purpose: full of daylight and inspiration.
Its functionality is also enhanced by the fact that it sits somewhat distanced and removed from the home's domestic living quarters. The motif of sleek lines can again be found here, with ample shelf and desk space to boot.
The two storeys of the House of Moriyama are connected through design that fosters an innate sense of flow. Here, we find ourselves halfway up the stairs to the living space and kitchen on the second floor. Flow, and a sense of space and movement, are the ideas behind the design here: the flat steps sport an open space between each, from certain angles appearing as if they're almost floating; while the stair rail is constructed in a unique, flowing yet angular 'S' configuration, giving the minimalist approach here a deft, contemporary edge.
The single light fitting, fitted with a warming bulb, further demonstrates the fusion of traditional east and modern west.
Calming waters, peace, tranquility: these are just a few of the positive moods and feelings that you'll likely encounter when you experience the House of Moriyama's bathroom spaces. In this example, we see a unique blend of sleek lines with wall curvature, backlit to create a sense of restful and harmonious mood. This tone and design treatment evokes the Zen principle of the all-flowing water that binds us all, and of the eternal beauty of simple things.
If you'd like to see another spectacular home, check out: The invisible house from another dimension.