The postponing of the Tokyo Summer Olympics has only increased our desire to learn more about Japanese culture and innovation. In this blog, we explore current trends in Japanese architectural design and woodworking and discuss its place in modern home design in the United States.
Japanese Design: A Relationship With Nature
When we think about Japanese design and architecture, we immediately imagine wood, nature, clean lines, precision, and simplicity.
Meticulous craftsmanship, functional design, refinement, and timeless beauty are hallmarks of the Japanese style. These are qualities we see reflected in modern home design and architecture elsewhere in the world. However, in some cases, it is little more than an homage to the real thing. The art and the aesthetic is not lost, but the true tradition of it is not widely practiced outside of Japan.
The Why Behind the Way
Like most enduring building techniques, function and practicality are at the heart of Japanese design.
For example, interiors were designed in such a way to inhibit issues that are still quite common, namely mold, fire, typhoons, and earthquakes. Moisture control and proper ventilation are essential, but they add cost and complexity to the construction, something many American homeowners are unwilling to pay for except at the highest level of quality.
To combat mold growth, structures were raised, and walls were mostly left open to allow the air to flow freely through the space. Rooms are divided by sliding doors, so that the internal areas could be configured for different uses. Interiors are uncluttered, sparse, and serve different purposes depending on the time of day.
In the Western world, our lifestyles are markedly different, so the practical nature of Japanese design isn’t necessarily applicable. Instead, we see elements of traditional Japanese architecture and design introduced through the use of certain materials and design trends, but it’s often less about the function than the look.
Japanese Design in Western Culture
In Northern California, Master Carpenter Hiroshi Sakaguchi is a rare find. Through his company, Ki Arts, Sakaguchi brings traditional Japanese aesthetic and technique into Western architecture. He crafts interiors and furniture, multifunctional rooms, and specialized interiors that recall history and inform a simpler, more practical way of living.
While buildings in Japan today rely on modern materials such as tile, steel, and concrete, Sakaguchi prefers a more iconic, contemplative approach, hand-forging his own hardware and hand-planing the wood with incredible precision.
In truth, the woodworking tools themselves are at least as important to the finished product as the wood itself. In Kobe, Japan, there is even a museum dedicated to carpentry tools, a shrine of sorts to a craft that is all but forgotten.
“I like beginning my day with hand sharpening plane and chisel blades. I have to really focus my mind and concentrate. It’s a kind of meditation that puts me in the mood to work.”
Hiroshi Sakaguchi, Master Carpenter, Ki Arts, California
If you live in DC, Maryland, or Virginia and are thinking about your next home remodel, we would love to be a part of the transformation. Reach out today to learn how Touchstone Remodelers can turn your renovation ideas into reality.
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