Tokyo design inpiration: WGSN City by City Correspondent Darren Gore selects and celebrates Masamichi Katayama’s most captivating interior design projects.
Masamichi Katayama has become a go-to interior designer for switched-on retail brands since founding his Wonderwall agency in Tokyo back in 2000. Clients, both domestic and international, have benefitted from a self-proclaimed ‘total design’ approach that celebrates traditional design philosophies (Katayama confesses to being obsessed with cuboid forms) while simultaneously challenging conventional notions of branding.
A timely publication that marks the designer’s 50th birthday, Wonderwall Case Studies is a heavyweight book produced by Winkreative, the Tyler Brûlé-helmed creative agency that has strong ties with Monocle magazine, and takes an unprecedentedly in-depth look at Katayama and Wonderwall’s work for both global powerhouses such as Nike, Diesel and Lexus, and smaller Japanese names including Loopwheeler, a cult label specialising in sweatshirts which are slowly produced.
Around detailed case studies of 11 key Wonderwall projects, the book also takes time to speak to a selection of clients spanning corporate (Toyota president Akiko Toyoda) to street (Pharrell Williams, BAPE founder Nigo), with the whole package presented in design language recognisable from the Winkreative-affiliated Monocle magazine.
As a long-time follower of his work, WGSN City by City Correspondent Darren Gore argues that Katayama’s most captivating designs are to be experienced in Wonderwall’s HQ city of Tokyo.
Here’s his five top Katayama designed interiors:
1-13-12 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku / 81 (0)3 6438 9203
Wall patterns mimic the moulding of sneaker soles, suspended footwear forms chandeliers, and lines are marked on the floor, running track-style, to guide shoppers around this vast 946 sq-m space that is Nike’s largest Japanese store.
2 Blue Building, 5-3-20 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku / 81 (0)3 5774 4668
Zen minimalism meets mystery in the facade of Thom Browne’s Japanese debut: completely devoid of signage, from outside the label name can be seen only through blinds covering a door. Inside, six distinct rooms (plus a basement cocktail bar) deftly convey the designer’s contemporary take on the ‘Mad Men’ aesthetic.
3-16-6 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku / 81 (0)3 6447 1869
A wall lined with 10,000 artificial flowers lends this space a serene atmosphere in which to take in the women’s, men’s and children’s designs of this label founded by Comme des Garcons Homme alumnus Hidenori Kumakiri.
2-4-16 Kyobashi, Chuo-ku / 81 (0)3 3273 3184
Inspired by the idea of ‘a chef’s table in the kitchen’, this entire premises is rendered as a ‘chocolate kitchen’ complete with a chocolate bar-style ceiling and a single wall lined with some 56 varieties of chocolate displayed in tasteful glass cases.
13-17 Udagawa-cho, Shibuya-ku / 81 (0)3 6415 6041
Intended by Katayama as a compilation of the Simian streetwear brand’s history, the highlight here is at the entrance where glass steps float over a conveyor belt of sneakers reminiscent of a revolving sushi restaurant.
‘Wonderwall Case Studies’ published by Gestalten, is available now priced £45.00
ALWAYS TRAVELLING? Discover the coolest neighbourhoods, must-see stores and best hotels, restaurants and inspiration spots with our incredible City-By-City guides.