Rediscovering Japanese Design Innovation
METAPH Architecture & Design Studio are a residential design firm based in Japan. Following their success in BUILD’s Design and Build Awards programme, where the firm was named ‘Innovators in Design’, we spoke with Head Architect Michihiro Matsuo to find out more.
Japanese design has always been a masterclass in form and function. Space becomes a canvas, as designers become artists, finding new ways to push the boundaries on a sector that seems perpetually focused on redefining the realms of possibility. Yet, despite that, Japanese residential design has almost taken a back-seat, as function has jostled for dominance. For Matsuo, the sector needed a reminder on what makes the region so special, and why it remains a powerhouse in truly innovative design.
Harnessing a decidedly contemporary approach, Matsuo has built his reputation on interesting and inspiring design choices that reflect Japan’s changing architectural landscape. “The success of METAPH Architecture & Design Studio has been created on the back of great design. Many houses built in Japan are monotonous and have no individuality. What we are looking for is a universal and impressive design. Not to mention, designing a home that meets the individual’s wishes. The studio designs with an idea to provide pleasure to our customers for many years to come.”
This changing need for bespoke residences has been a rallying cry for Matsuo, nurturing a desire to reflect the region’s innovative core in its citizen’s homes. Today, uniqueness is highly sought after: “Although there were a few customers who wanted a bespoke housing design, in recent years the architect’s expertise has been recognized, and in Japan, a home with excellent design has come to be sought. Many homeowners come to the company from domestic and foreign countries in search of a rich living environment. We are designing a house with design and performance while improving the design of a house that feels the four seasons of Japan and improving the earthquake resistance of a house in a country that is a major earthquake country.”
Indeed, many of the studio’s clients are doctors and business owners who require a living space that, in Matsuo’s words, allows them to “feel a richness of life and space where they can enjoy their hobbies.” Moreover, through a truly clientcentric approach to design, METAPH has secured long-term, close relationships with many of its clients. For Matsuo, a thorough service has been fundamental to the studio’s enduring success. “I work alongside and communicate with the client until I understand, in detail, what they want from the project. In addition, I am an experienced architect, with a deep understanding of today’s technology.”
The architectural industry is certainly seeing significant changes in recent years through digitisation and constant technological development, as Matsuo explains in his final comments: “Housing design is becoming computerised, with search systems that utilise algorithms. Japanese construction companies have many excellent engineers and are often asked by customers to work directly on their homes, but they are inefficient due to the absence of a designer and, as a result, often ask other companies. However, despite this, in the near future, it will be easier for many clients to acquire an excellent house that meets their wishes.”
Company: METAPH Architecture & Design Studio
Name: Michihiro Matsuo
Address: 2F, 4-20-1, Omasu-cho, Ashiya-city, Hyogo, 659-0066, Japan