For those who want to know design, want to learn, enjoy

Survey on the actual situation of Japanese design archives

what is going on?Design archives of these people


Kanji Ueki

Interior designer


Interview: 4 July 4, 2019 16: 00-17: 00
Interview location: Casappo & Associates
Interview: Kanji Ueki
Interviewers: Yasuko Seki, Tomoko Ishiguro
Writing: Tomoko Ishiguro



Kanji Ueki

Interior designer
1945 Born in Tokyo
1968 Graduated from Keio University, Faculty of Commerce, moved to Italy
1969 Joined the design department of the Lina Scente department store in Milan
1971 Aldya Kobel Architects
1976 After returning from Italy, founded Casappo & Associates
1999 JCD Design Excellence Award (Obrero)
2003 Industrial Design Excellence Awards, Gold Medal (Apple Store)
2006 Kanazawa Urban Beauty Culture Award (Fukumiya)




Looking at the design critic Kawadoko Kikan, "Kanji Ueki is the most difficult-to-explain designer among the many interior designers from the viewpoint of the overall picture of designers." (Rikuyosha, 1986) He has a rare career as a designer who graduated from the Faculty of Business and Commerce of Keio University, but began to study with interest in design when he was in the third year of college, and after graduation he trained in Italy for five years. Established Casappo & Associates in 1976 after returning to Japan, worked on the interior design of the living goods shop "LIVING MOTIF" in the AXIS building in 1981, and has since worked on a variety of commercial spaces, including houses, offices and hotels. Many of his masterpieces are works with architect Yoshio Taniguchi, which started at Hotel Appi Grand in 1985. Under the influence of Taniguchi, he pursued perfection and used the empty space as a container for people and things. The completed design was the interior design of the Museum of Modern Art, New York in 2004, and the prototype design of the Apple Store, which was rolled out across the United States. Expanded.
It elicits the client's potential demands and shapes them appropriately, but does not show off their identity as a writer. Kawadoko mentioned above is said to be "free work group" "set to emit a momentary glow dramatically", and the gaze is "directed against the short life of shop design", which is the whole picture He argues that deciphering the flow of the method would be futile. There was a sense that the interior was background and not the leading role, and the severity was a solid trajectory that was essential to Japanese interior design, which was not related to short-lived fashion.




"ALPHA CUBIC" From-1st (1976), "Cafe @ Capuccio" Nogizaka (1979), "LIVING MOTIF" AXIS (1981), "chocolatier Erica" Shirokane (1982), "Appi Grand" Appi Kogen Ski Resort (1985), "Kawaguchiko House" (1986), "Komatsu Store" Ginza Renovation (1987), "IBM" Makuhari (1991), "Karuizawa Golf Club" Karuizawa (1994), Restaurant "BURGIGALA" Osaka (1997), "SEOUL CITY CLUB" Seoul (1998), "OPAQUE" Ginza (1998), Wine shop "ENOTECA" Hiroo Main Store (1999), "Fukumiya" Kanazawa (1999), "APPLE STORE" Washington DC (2001), "Renovation of the Museum of Modern Art, New York" (2004), Restaurant "Ariake" Seoul (2004), "Tokyo Club" (2005), Renovation of Seoul Shilla Hotel (2006), "WATER LINE Floating Lounge" "T.Y. HARBOR" Tennozu (2006), "THE MÉNAGERIE" Seoul (2012), "UCHINO TOUCH" Roppongi (2018), "HOTEL JW MARRIOTT" Seoul (2018) and others



"ALADIN" day (1992), "KU" chair @ Alflex (1992), "SENTA" day (1993), "CLUB sofa" Cassina Ixie (1994), "TWIN" Alflex (1995), "VENTO" Cassina Ixie (1997), "KUF chair" Alflex (1997), "BANCO" day (1997), "TANTO CHAIR" IDÉE (1998), "TANTO LOUNGE CHAIR" Idee (1998), "PALA" Alflex (2004), "SAGAN" ESTIC (2005), "SLIT" nextmaruni (2005), "ARETE" ARTI (2008) "DIVANCO" Day (2010), "SALSA" Day (2013), "TANT-TANT" Cassina Ixie (2015)



"Small Space Design for Seven People" (co-author) Rokuyosha (2003)
"Kanji ueki" (1989-1998) (1999-2006) (2006-2012) (2013-2018) Casappo & Associates




The completed space is everything and value

Perspectives on accumulation and space in Italy

 long time no see. With Ueki, in 1981, I interviewed AXIS "LIVING MOTI" several times with the interior design. The "Living Motif" was renewed and the space at that time did not exist, but it was a space full of ideas that only Ueki who returned from Italy could do, such as a pyramid-shaped showcase in the center. Immediately after that, he was active as a young top runner, working on a wide range of interior designs, including interior design, furniture design, and house design for restaurants, shops, hotels and membership clubs. His background is also unique. You didn't work at university, but at the Faculty of Commerce, and you went to Rome to study design.


Ueki Rome was in its heyday when film directors such as Pasolini were active, initially dreaming of film directors. But he ran out of money and was working part-time as a cleaning bureau and a movie extra. At that time, I met a professor at the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Rome and was able to learn design with his kindness.


 After that, he moved from Rome to Milan, through the department store Rinacente, and joined the Aldo Jacobelle Architects. He worked on house design, boutique design such as Valentino and Sonia Rykiel.


Ueki In Milan at the time, Motomi Kawakami, Masanori Umeda, Toshiyuki Kita, Makio Hasuike and Isao Hosoe were studying design.


 In an interview earlier, he said, "I was doing my job at first, only by accumulating in the advanced design country Italy."


Ueki Eight years in Italy was a great experience. The design was mature and lively. Even one chair was completely different from the chair conceived by the Japanese and that of the Italians. In Japan, humans do not want to sit. I think there is a difference between ideas and experience.


 On the other hand, in his work with Yoshio Taniguchi, he was told that his experience in Italy was not enough, and he said, "I had to aim further. It is said that perfection and space are containers for people and things. I have made my consciousness thorough. " This experience overlaps, but when I see Mr. Ueki's work, I feel that there is space first.


Ueki In Japan, there is a space where parts are stacked, but I am different. For example, like the Apple Store, we first consider the perspective of the overall breakthrough. This may have been learned from Italy. I participate in the project as early as possible, and while drawing a lot of sketches, I will create a space structure that will create stairs here and raise the ceiling.


 It's more like designing an architecture than an interior design.


Ueki I agree. Furniture is also created to create a space that can be imagined.


 Does that mean that Ueki-san is entirely up to the client?


Ueki My client says, "Please do what you want," so I come to my liking. Looking at the size and conditions of the property and discussing the client further, the image naturally rises.


Points to Jobs


植木莞爾作品 植木莞爾作品

Photo "Apple Store" Washington DC (2000)


 The story I heard during my previous interview until I was assigned the concept design for the Apple Store was impressive.


Ueki A call from a San Francisco graphic designer, Yasushi Yagi, came to a meeting a week later with Steve Jobs, who was asked for his opinion before mocking up the shop design he had already made. When I pointed out, "I'd like to have one store but not many stores," he said, "I want to ask you."


 That's right. A month later, he traveled to the United States with drawings and models, and opened the world's first Apple Store. The concept was unprecedented and was a proposal for a common space that was ahead of the times. I think Jobs has passed away and I think that dealing with this is no longer a precious memory, but what about the series of materials?


Ueki I received OK with a picture, a perspective, and a model, but I handed them to Apple and there is nothing at hand. I think Apple has left it. Other materials, such as drawings on product design such as furniture, have been given to companies such as B & B, idea, and Cassina, and are not available here. I guess they have left them as well as Apple.


 Now, please tell us your most impressive work so far.


Ueki It is "OPAQUE" Ginza in 1889. The facade is designed by Kazuyo Sejima.


 A pioneer in select shops, it was also the first place to show translucent (opaque) glass in Ginza. Connecting small spaces with short staircases and mixing various categories, such as clothing, food and shelter, to present a worldview were also revolutionary. Is Ueki initiating such “place creation”?


Ueki That's right.


 Why was it impressive?


Ueki I could do it as I like.(laugh)。


 I feel free, lean, and high in perspective. Mr. Ueki fell ill a few years ago and returned to work after severe rehabilitation. Passion for an insatiable design is down.


If you do not make a record yourself, it will not be good

 I will ask you what you think about the design archive. How are sketches, models, drawings, and other materials stored and organized? I think that Mr. Ueki's interior design is one of the most valuable records of Japanese design history.


植木 I'm grateful to say that, but I've thrown everything away. This is because everything that has been commercialized and the completed space is everything, and that is what we value. Therefore, once completed, the idea is that you don't need to keep the materials. I almost abandoned my sketches and left no notes or models. However, drawings are left. I have a responsibility as a designer.


 You send us your collection of works on a regular basis, but you can think of it as an archive.


Ueki A book of photographs of all works since 1989 has been compiled every six to ten years, and four books have been published so far. I do this all by myself, without leaving anyone to select the photos and textbooks. The description of each work is in English, but I wrote it myself.


 When you look at the booklet, you can see that the composition is very realistic. You can enter through the entrance to experience the space. The arrangement and selection of these photos is also directed by Mr. Ueki.


Ueki I always ask a fixed photographer to take a picture, but I keep all the drawings, so expand the drawings and consider where the flow and the line of sight change, such as how people experience the space, where I decide how to shoot and give directions for shooting.


 Just in case, what about isometrics and axes?


Ueki Even if you look at it, ordinary people will not know (laugh). I have not left. I think you can have a simulated experience in a movie, but still pictures are still tighter, so I'm just taking pictures.


 Certainly, the concept may be better communicated by photography. I feel that the purity is unique to Mr. Ueki. Nevertheless, when someone who wants to study Ueki appears later in the year, it may be troublesome if there are few primary materials.


Ueki It has nothing to do with me (laughs). To be honest, I don't have a desire to understand later. Of course, if you want to do research or want to see a drawing because you want to know, I'm willing to show it. The drawings are scanned and converted into data, so if you come here, you can see them.


 Why did you decide to put it in a booklet?


Ueki In Japan, magazines do not play a role as a recording medium, and we think that it is more accurate and convincing to be compiled by the designer himself than from the viewpoint of others. For the same reason, critics and journalists did not write the text. Anyway, I'm the judge that everything is completed, and the trial and error and process leading up to it are imperfect, so I should throw it away.


 Because magazines are commercial-based, sometimes they are confined from a perspective that is far from the artist's intention. It is ideal to put together on your own, but it is a heavy burden to shoot and publish all at your own expense. It is not easy to do. I think it's amazing.


Ueki I'm printing 1,000 copies, but it's not really amazing (laughs). Many Italian designers also put together their own. I will say everything in the opening sentence. "To make or design is to express oneself, in interior design to give one's own meaning to a space. In a space given meaning, there is a meaning of a place." .


 Ueki's space is of a good quality, and there is an impression that it will not become old even after many years. The secret is likely to be found in the text that follows. "The beauty of the place is what we find out of the complexity of architecture and interior, which is to project ourselves. The beautiful sensations are gradually completed in the long process of harmony. I like to see that the beauty of the place that results is my desire and is composed of all my own thoughts, wills, and current lives. Will be my passion and my eternity. "
Finally, please tell us about your ongoing work.


Ueki Completion is about three years away, but we are building a hotel in Hakone. The architecture is Mr. Shigeru Saka. It will be a comfortable space.


 Thank you very much. Looking forward to completion.




Contact information

Casappo & Associates



what is going on?
Design archives of these people

There is also the possibility of changing subjects of survey.

The subjects (individuals) to be surveyed have been selected, including those who have already died, referring to the 2006 Asahi Shimbun publication "The Great Masters who have designed Nippon".

* Is a person who has died.




Let's talk about Shiro Kuramata

Symposium held

Shiro Kuramata (1934-1991) is a legendary designer who was active in the 1960s and 1980s.
His character and his work continue to fascinate people all over the world.
Thirty years before his death, he held a symposium to connect the design of Kuramata to the younger generation from the past to the present and the future as "Introduction to Shiro Kuramata".


click     click