‘Natural’, ‘calm’ and ‘comfortable’ are all words Japanese designer Keiichi Ito tries out before landing on one that perfectly sums up the essence of his latest venture: ‘Kinobi – which means functional beauty.’ Ito is describing Japan’s first MUJI HOTEL, which opened its doors last week in Tokyo’s upmarket shopping district Ginza. MUJI HOTEL GINZA – the third globally after Shenzhen and Beijing opened last year – is a major new venture by the Japanese company famed for its no-brand philosophy, clean-lined minimalism and unfussy contemporary design.
All three MUJI hotels share the concepts ‘anti-gorgeous’ and ‘anti-cheap’ – which perhaps sound a little better in Japanese than English, but are best embodied in the low-key simplicity of the hotel interiors. The Tokyo hotel – designed and managed by UDS (also behind CLASKA hotel, among others) – spans the top five floors of a new 10-storey building, and features 79 guestrooms, WA restaurant serving regional cuisine and the world’s largest MUJI flagship store just underneath it. ‘We’ve used plenty of natural materials and textures – wood, soil, fabric, stones,’ explains Ito from UDS, who along with being the hotel’s designer is also its general manager (he also designed Beijing’s MUJI HOTEL). ‘We wanted to create the atmosphere of a cosy and relaxed home. Ginza is such a busy place and we imagine guests will be tired when they return to the hotel, so we wanted to make them feel comfortable and relaxed. Other Ginza hotels have too much design – this is very different.’ A glance around the seventh-floor guestroom where we had our interview confirms this: around us are warm oak walls, light linen curtains, soft modern lighting and a textured sheep’s wool carpet that I can’t resist touching. ‘I try to use materials that people want to touch,’ smiles Ito.
Courtesy of Designanthologymag