If an apartment could be said to be bursting with fruit flavor it would be this one in Tokyo’s Nagatacho district, renovated by British architectural designer Adam Nathaniel Furman, using lucent HI-MACS® for the kitchen and bathroom areas, for a pair of adventurous clients.
The three-bedroom, two-bathroom 160 square metres flat, located in the heart of Tokyo, is pure colour delight, a small but intensely crafted manifesto for an architecture that luxuriates in a celebration of the senses, and of every day domestic life. A palette of pastel colours, with a mix of natural and hi-tech materials like spruce and HI-MACS®, and an open and interconnected layout combine to create a voluptuous interior world.
The apartment´s owners, a mixed Japanese-expat retired couple, who regularly host guests from abroad, have owned the apartment since the 1980s, just after the building was completed. The couple recently commissioned designer Adam Nathaniel Furman for the renovation project.
The flat´s existing layout was dark and self-contained, with small rooms off a long corridor and low ceiling heights. Furman rearranged the area to create an entrance vestibule and short hallway leading past twinned single bedrooms, after which the apartment opens up into a large open-plan living kitchen area with a big island/breakfast bar. The master bedroom and en suite bathroom are off the dining area, creating flexibility should the owners want to rent out part of the apartment. The use of colour to define spaces is omnipresent and the mix of materials creates a joyful but functional living space.
The ceilings were raised, which increased the height significantly in most places, and also created a complex roofscape, above which all the various beams are covered in off-white textured wallpaper. With the eye concentrating on the colours below, the level changes in the ceiling do not jar.
The palette of cosy, but light and joyous colours used throughout the whole area, in combination with the larger open spaces and sheer blinds, makes for a light-filled interior.
Mastering the use of colour
“Originally the owners referred to the apartment as the ‘bubble gum´ flat, later changed to the ‘watermelon’ flat. You can see the hints of green, the stripes, the warm tones that turn into meaty, juicy pinks” says the designer.
Many of the client-architect discussions devolved into conversations about senses, tastes and food, and Furman spent days with the couple shopping for materials. “I don’t see how I could get clients more actively participating in the joy of designing” he enthuses.
The choice of the colours and materials for the kitchen
areas was one of those moments: the owners chose semi-translucent pink and blue pastel tones, from the HI-MACS® lucent collection
for all countertops. “If you put that in front of people who enjoy colour, they will just fall in love
.” explains Furman.
“I’ve wanted to work with HI-MACS® for a while, as I just adore the beautiful limpid and simultaneously bold quality of its colours. I first came across it when I showed my work at the Design Museum as one of their Designers in Residence, and the plinths on which my work were displayed were made of HI-MACS®... ever since then I’ve been eager to specify it. I chose HI-MACS® Lucent colours as they matched perfectly the gentle, pastel colour scheme that I developed for the apartment, but they also brought a sense of solidity and mass that was not possible with the other surfaces I was working with, and so I used blue & pink Lucent to create large sculptural presences within the space of the apartment that in my mind are like a super-contemporary, and much more subtle and gentle, version of marble centre-pieces.”
The Lucent colours from HI-MACS® are pivotal when designing elements of contemporary architecture – the shades, with their exceptional light translucency, allow for spectacular designs.
In this project, materials are celebrated for their sensuality, and their powerful effect on the imagination. Their use is an experiment in which colour, texture, material and form are mastered in a space that elevates the client’s daily rituals and communal activities into a space of aesthetic delight.
This project is part of Furman's ongoing experiments into the use of colour in architecture, and of unusual aesthetics in contemporary design.