Japanese studio Keiji Ashizawa Design has created a striking interior for Blue Bottle Coffee cafe in Nagoya, Japan, utilizing local materials and crafts to reflect the region’s rich manufacturing heritage. The design prominently features tiles produced by local manufacturer Ceramic Olive Bricks, covering walls, floors, and tables to create a cohesive and locally-rooted aesthetic.

Local Materials and Craftsmanship

The decision to use locally produced tiles stems from Blue Bottle Coffee’s philosophy of valuing the local and Ashizawa’s desire to make the most of the Chukyo area’s manufacturing excellence.

“This cafe is located in the Chukyo area of central Japan, an area that excels in manufacturing, so we decided to make the most of it,” Keiji Ashizawa explained.

The tiles, used extensively on structural walls, floors, and a central table, create a visually unified space. The table, specifically designed for this cafe, uses a different type of tile from the same manufacturer, glazed for easy cleaning.

“We thought that the cafe, which often serves as a lounge in a large building, needs to have a central space where everyone can remember,” Ashizawa added. “A tiled table would be both iconic and appropriate for this space.”

Integration of Local Elements

In addition to tiles, the cafe features wooden furniture and lighting fixtures crafted from pottery plates, also sourced locally. These rounded wall sconces and pendant lamps provide a soft, diffused light, enhancing the craft-focused design.

“The pendant and wall lamps are made of pottery plates from the same region as the tiles, and are also used as tableware in the store,” Ashizawa noted.

Above the main tiled table, a brass lamp references the famous ornaments atop Nagoya Castle, adding a local historical touch. A delicate brass mobile, designed by an architect friend, hangs above, creating a dynamic visual element that changes with the light.

Design and Color Palette

The interior design features an earthy color palette, with pink-colored tiles, gray floors, and walls, complemented by natural wood and textile furniture. This harmonious blend creates a warm and inviting atmosphere.

“The elegant pink color of the tiles, the gray floor and walls, added with the natural wood and textiles of the furniture were chosen to work in harmony with one another,” said Ashizawa.

Historical Context and Modern Function

The cafe is located in Nagoya’s Chunichi Building, a landmark that was formerly a theatre and now houses a hotel. This historical context influenced the design, aiming to add value and comfort to the space.

“The cafe was conditioned to be on the ground floor of the building that is familiar to the locals with its historical existence and the newly constructed hotel floors,” Ashizawa explained. “I had the inspiration to somehow add value to the place by making it not just a cafe, but more of a lounge space in a hotel that provides a sense of comfort.”

Keiji Ashizawa Design and Blue Bottle Coffee

This Blue Bottle Coffee cafe is the seventh designed by Keiji Ashizawa Design, with other notable locations in Shanghai and Kobe. Each store is tailored to its surroundings, reflecting local landscapes and culture.

“For all of them, it is always a pleasure to have discussions about local, landscape, and the culture of the place and country to be utilized in designing the store,” Ashizawa concluded. “Indeed, this is what makes them a challenging project as every store has its own character and constraints.”

Through thoughtful integration of local materials, craftsmanship, and historical elements, Keiji Ashizawa Design has created a unique and memorable space for Blue Bottle Coffee in Nagoya, emphasizing a deep connection to its local context and heritage.

Photography: Tomooki Kengaku


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