Project Case

November 29, 2020

Hida wood transforms Suzuyo’s office with warmth, variety and function

FabCafe Global Editorial Team

A creative home ground for employees to sow new ideas, CODO is a workspace like no other. 

Here, a company’s ‘self-reformation’ starts from the ground up – and quite literally so. Helmed by Loftwork, Shuhei Goto Architects and FabCafe’s affiliate venture Hidakuma, what was once a drab and underused office space in Suzuyo’s headquarters has been transformed into a multilevel, multipurpose space, backed by the adaptable touch of Hida wood. Uprooting old office conventions in favor of freedom of movement and organic comfort, the project has helped breathe new life into the 220 year-old logistics company – even winning the 2020 Dezeen Awards for ‘Small workspace interior’. Of 5000 entries from 85 countries, the judges were impressed by the “spatially intriguing” project, calling it an “interesting approach to socially distanced co-working”. 

Like many other companies in Japan, Suzuyo is eager to update itself, as the workforce continues to evolve against the backdrop of labor  shortages, an aging society and cultural and technological shifts. If “bold changes in the working environment leads to bold changes in behavior and thinking”, according to Suzuyo President- Kenichiro Suzuki 鈴⽊ 健⼀郎, then CODO leads the way in reinventing the company for future working needs.


An amalgam of ‘CO’ (together) and ‘DO’ (live), the revamped fifth floor of Suzuyo’s head office is at once a workspace, a shared meeting place, an events hall, a dining area and an internal walkway. As lead architect Shuhei Goto says, “The space goes beyond the functions of a fixed office, like a ‘blank space’ that can be freely adapted in use and definition.”

The platforms are constructed of a variety of more than ten Hida-sourced hardwoods, making it one of Hidakuma’s biggest projects. Many were derived from trees that are found in Hida’s forests but not usually used as timber. Providing support for the design and production of the wooden platforms and other timber furniture, as well as the procurement and processing of the wood itself, Hidakuma is a one-stop woodshop. Situated in the country hideout of Hida, a town with deep roots to wood and traditional craftsmanship, Hidakuma, along with FabCafe Hida, act as a hub that connects local craftspeople and timber experts with digital fabrication technology and big scale projects like CODO.

The types of wood used as part of the CODO project have been carefully selected by the Hidakuma team, so as to provide easy visual distinctions between one another, as well as giving rise to different sensory experiences. 

“There are materials suitable for each function, such as a wood grain that is not easily contaminated when stepping on it with shoes,” explains Asaoka Hideaki of Hidakuma. “Where you relax, the wood has a white, gentle grain; where the wood is touched, it is soft to the touch.”

Each wood presents a different color to the space – with some, such as Mizunara Oak and Chestnut, changing over time – resulting in an organic palette that stands in stark contrast to the artificiality of the former auditorium. 

Beyond the relationship between the hardwoods, other features have been selected carefully to complement the warm and organic materiality of the space. Around 20 oval, circle and bean-shaped tables are positioned in the space, each constructed with a hardwood top plate from a different species of tree. Tables atop the platforms are made of timbers responding to the surface below, while those on the concrete floor use the innovative new material of Fenix-NTM, which is similar to linoleum, displaying a grey-colored finish.

Meanwhile, the unique 26-meter gradation counter that sits alongside the windows, showcases the gradation of the hardwoods’ different hues, transitioning from green to red. As the longest counter in Hidakuma’s history, the counter is an impressive feat of expert timber technology and craftsmanship, consisting of more than 500 individual timber boards to produce the gradation. This effect perfectly mimics the fitted curtains designed by Akane Moriyama, which are green-tinted in parts of the room primarily used for relaxation or dining, and red in the more actively used parts of the room.

What was once a floor becomes a desk, and what was once a desk becomes a chair. Refusing to be boxed in, the CODO project attempts to reinvent how employees relate to the space, to each other, and to the ways in which they work. Here, Hida’s wood becomes an unlikely, but ideal, material to blur the lines in an organic way.  

As the President of Hidakuma Kotaro Iwaoka notes, “It’s balanced without being overly assertive. The wood played a major role as the foundation of the workplace in a brilliant way.”

Learn more about FabCafe Hida/Hidakuma here: Loftwork puts down roots for new values in Hida city

Inspired by the ‘Fab’ revolution as prescribed by MIT maverick Neil Gershenfeld, FabCafe is a series of ‘Fab’ innovation labs that specialize in creating products, services and experiences of the future. Here, maker enthusiasts, businesses and everyday people can access digital fabrication tools and experiences for fields ranging from fashion to bio. Founded in Tokyo in 2012, FabCafe’s global network now serves and fosters creative communities in 11 locations around the world, including Bangkok, Barcelona, Hong Kong, and many more.

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  • FabCafe Global Editorial Team

    This articles is edited by FabCafe Global.

    Please feel free to share your thoughts and opinions on this article with us.
    Contact us

    This articles is edited by FabCafe Global.

    Please feel free to share your thoughts and opinions on this article with us.
    Contact us

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