What I enjoy about Keiji is his understatement. He and his designs are considered: they are effective yet thoughtful with warmth and a calm voice. As an architect his interior and architectural projects such as 11 boxes, 1/4 Vault, and 506 resonate this calm and natural simplicity. He has worked with Peter Stutchbury, the distinguished Australian Architect, and reaffirmed a special connection with him on projects such as The Wall House, Japan.
“The gently warping twisted shingled roof, the ordered plan, the simple palette of timber and stone, the calm of water and the restrained, consistent detailing combine to produce a house of rare beauty and serenity.” 1
His furniture, lighting and products are exquisite and a joy to experience, touch and use. Slybox, Pipeknot, and Gravity Light #PP are content; they speak to me directly of his balance, deep thought and personal process. It is little wonder that he has exhibited at Milano Salone Satellite several times, had work published in Wallpaper Magazine and been approached by Ikea to become a guest designer to work on a series of simple honest furniture pieces for small spaces.
Keiji is both generous with his time and generous with his commitment. He spoke of the work he has undertaken to assist the communities impacted by the tsunami in Fukushima Prefecture. Working with Shop A high school students, simple benches have been made and distributed to affected areas. For people who have been left with nothing the benches offer a place to sit, to gather and reconnect. Keiji affirms that they probably would not work anywhere else, but the benches work here and they are used and moved around as needed. Keiji has also leased one of the many shops now vacant in the area and equipped it with tools for people to gather, learn skills and rebuild.
Humbled by our meeting, I head off with Keiji to experience Bunkyo-ku, the inner ward of Tokyo where his office Keiji Ashizawa Design is located.
Thank you Keiji for your time and unique insight. Thank you too, Heidi Dokuli from Parcel and the Australian Design Unit (ADU), for connecting us.
1. Excerpt from Project Decription for Wall House, 2010 Japan. Link to Source