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In the retail world, few architectural firms hold the same esteem as Japan’s Wonderwall and it’s lead, Masamichi Katayama. With Wonderwall beginning in 2000, Katayama has designed over 60 stores for BAPE, as well as designing the interiors for spaces such as Fred Perry, Uniqlo, OriginalFake, the SOHO Tokyo Bay hotel and Dean & Deluca. In addition, he has also designed his own furniture line over the last 15 or so years. NOWNESS took the opportunity to interview Katayama involving his insights into his work. The excerpts can be seen below.
Which architects do you particularly admire?
There are many architects from various periods whom I admire, but I especially like the modernists. Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier, Louis Kahn, Oscar Niemeyer––the list goes on. What I identify with in modernism is the simplicity, not necessarily the minimalist aesthetic, and this sense of spiritual affluence. To me modernism leaves us with choices and does not force us to be a specific way.
You seem to have a preoccupation with squares, grids and cubic forms—can you explain why?
It’s not that I like squares or grids in particular. Sometimes I will use curved lines as well, depending on the overall design concept. Every project is treated independently and I do like to consider all components, including functionality.
Your use of color is always extreme, whether it’s minimal or kaleidoscopic—what effect do you think this has on your environments?
I consider and treat colors like one of many materials, so I never really design with any special attention to the idea of using color in itself. Depending on the size and the space, a strong color or strong colors may be used, but whether it be materials, color, lighting, they are all considered equally.
Should interiors have a sense of humor?
Yes, to me, having a sense of humor is a top priority. Of course, sometimes they can be very subtle, sometimes obvious and immediate, but I do want to create an enjoyable experience through interior design.
How do you factor people and customers into your designs?
The customer’s experience is extremely important, and it is something that I carefully consider in my designs. I do a lot of research––I’m a bit of a shopaholic, actually.