Project Case

September 1, 2020

FabCafe Kyoto Gathers Six Artists to “Inherit” The Space of the Machiya Ebisuya Hotel

“Inheriting” the history and materials of each room

Much history has been lost through the demolition of traditional and unique architecture to be replaced with modern developments, and many hotels have lost identity through commercialization. Looking to create a form of accommodation that not only acknowledges the history of the site it is built on, but also creating something that has character, SPACE CO. LTD looked to FabCafe/MTRL Kyoto to help design the Machiya Ebisuya, a new hotel in Kyoto that combines the old and the new under the theme of “inheritance.” FabCafe/MTRL Kyoto and SPACE Co. LTD worked with six artists to create original artworks for each hotel room that inherited the history, space and materials of the land the hotel is built on.

Project Summary

  • Activities: Planning, overseeing the coordination of artists, the production and installation of artworks for the hotel’s rooms
  • Project duration: October 2018 – March 2019
  • Project information
    • Client: SPACE CO., LTD
    • Producer: Kousuke Kinoshita 
    • Project Manager: Masato Uenosono
    • Partners: Kuniko Kinodo, Hakomidori, edalab.
    • Photography: Yosuke Tanaka (*uncredited print only)

The Machiya Ebisuya, a new hotel operated by Japanese accommodation company AJ Interbridge Inc, combines the beauty of Kyo-Machiya – traditional Japanese townhouses – with modern architectural technology to showcase the theme of “inheritance.”

FabCafe/MTRL Kyoto worked with six artists with connections to Kyoto to create five themed artworks in ten of the hotel’s rooms, each representing a different “inheritance” of the space. As part of the process, the artists visited the original building for the hotel before its disassembly to see, feel and touch the materials that made up the structure in order to develop ideas for their work. They then combined the materials with their personal perspectives and methods of expression to create works that express the idea of “inheritance.”

Each room at THE MACHIYA EBISUYA is furnished with art pieces created especially for the space. Traditional construction techniques such as splicing and chigiri, a Japanese art form that creates images using colored paper, are used to join wood together, while traditional clay walls are replaced with Western materials of terrazzo and mortar. The addition of crafted materials such as Oyaishi stone, wood panels processed by Naguri and mirror-finished copper, made with Japanese advanced technology, work to create a new space that blends the Japanese and the West.

By rooting her work in the inheritance of ceramic and stone and tools and natural objects, ceramic artist Kuniko Kinodo takes the historical clay and stone structures that would have existed on the site and bestows them with new life through glazing the stones with ceramic techniques. The new objects have a completely different texture and color and will surely continue to exist for hundreds of years to come.

  • Kuniko Kinodo 戸久仁子

    Born 1976 in Shiga Prefecture, Kinodo began her career at the Sotoen Climbing Kiln in 1995. The same year, she joined the young art collective SEEDS. In 1998, she spent a year in New Zealand before completing her studies in ceramic glazing at Shigaraki’s Institute of Ceramic Studies in 2001. She is an astonishing alchemist who creates new materials through the complex mixing of glazes with the goal of turning “fake stones” into “rare stones.”  

    Born 1976 in Shiga Prefecture, Kinodo began her career at the Sotoen Climbing Kiln in 1995. The same year, she joined the young art collective SEEDS. In 1998, she spent a year in New Zealand before completing her studies in ceramic glazing at Shigaraki’s Institute of Ceramic Studies in 2001. She is an astonishing alchemist who creates new materials through the complex mixing of glazes with the goal of turning “fake stones” into “rare stones.”  

Using the fittings of the townhouse that now houses the hotel as a frame, artists Sonoko Suo and edalab. attempt to bridge the gap between organic and inorganic materials, and between life and death, through the coexistence and contrast of plants and glass. The artists use the shapes, textures and composition of the plants within the frames to bring the viewer’s attention to the natural world in which life exists. 

  • Sonoko Suo (Hacomidori) 周防 苑子

    flower shop in Shiga, Japan, Suo spent her childhood surrounded by plants. After spending her school years in Kyoto and working in Tokyo, she returned home in the summer of 2014. In November of the same year, she established a solo project, Hacomidori, which combines the waste glass from dismantled houses with fresh plants and flowers gathered from the fresh flower markets and the mountains. 

    flower shop in Shiga, Japan, Suo spent her childhood surrounded by plants. After spending her school years in Kyoto and working in Tokyo, she returned home in the summer of 2014. In November of the same year, she established a solo project, Hacomidori, which combines the waste glass from dismantled houses with fresh plants and flowers gathered from the fresh flower markets and the mountains. 

  • edalab.

    edalab. is the name of a plant project by Yuya Maeda, who creates artworks from plants gathered from surrounding areas. He is also working on a food installation called  [Edible Arboretum]. https://www.edalab-flower.com/

    edalab. is the name of a plant project by Yuya Maeda, who creates artworks from plants gathered from surrounding areas. He is also working on a food installation called  [Edible Arboretum]. https://www.edalab-flower.com/

The act of inheritance involves not only the passing on of something from the past to the present, but also the adaptation by those who live in that era. Recalling the works of familiar masters, Shiori Koyama sews together her work with thread and places it within the wooden frames that were once the tools of human life. In doing so, Koyama connects the past with the present both images and materials.

  • Shiori Koyama

     Born in Ishikawa Prefecture in 1988, Koyama graduated from Tokyo Zokei University in 2014 before completing her masters at Kyoto University of Art and Design in 2017. Koyama’s work often involves the extraction of images from the internet as she seeks to explore the story of “now”. Her awards include the Jury Award of Tomako Yabumae at The 4th CAF award in 2017, the Incentive Award at the Kyoto University of Art and Design Degree Show 2017 and more.

     Born in Ishikawa Prefecture in 1988, Koyama graduated from Tokyo Zokei University in 2014 before completing her masters at Kyoto University of Art and Design in 2017. Koyama’s work often involves the extraction of images from the internet as she seeks to explore the story of “now”. Her awards include the Jury Award of Tomako Yabumae at The 4th CAF award in 2017, the Incentive Award at the Kyoto University of Art and Design Degree Show 2017 and more.

Washi, traditional Japanese paper, is one of the most important materials in Japanese culture. Through research and production, artist Sachi Harada creates a work that passes on the historical techniques and legacy of dyeing and fitting Washi. The incorporation of the fusuma (sliding doors) and walls into the composition of the work help to convey the memories of the land in a new space.

  • Sachi Harada (Paper Margin)

    Born in Nara, Harada graduated from the Kyoto City University of Arts with a major in copper plate painting before receiving training at Chinese paper production studio, Kira Karacho, and paper workshop SEKISYU-WASHI. In 2015, she started the project “Paper Margin” at a lantern festival. Based in Kyoto, Harada dyes handmade Washi with the goal of “learning from the past”. She has traveled to some of the best paper-making regions in Japan to learn the ancient skills of papermaking. Her project, named “Paper Margin”, aims to convey the beauty of washi and the people involved in its creation. https://www.kaminoyohaku.com/

    Born in Nara, Harada graduated from the Kyoto City University of Arts with a major in copper plate painting before receiving training at Chinese paper production studio, Kira Karacho, and paper workshop SEKISYU-WASHI. In 2015, she started the project “Paper Margin” at a lantern festival. Based in Kyoto, Harada dyes handmade Washi with the goal of “learning from the past”. She has traveled to some of the best paper-making regions in Japan to learn the ancient skills of papermaking. Her project, named “Paper Margin”, aims to convey the beauty of washi and the people involved in its creation. https://www.kaminoyohaku.com/

Contemporary storyteller Apsu Shusei creates visuals and narratives through the manipulation of patterns. Just like the scrolls that once hung in the alcove of Japanese houses, his works connect the human spirit with distant time and space through the meaningful motifs and images in the patterns. In collaboration with SEKITAKU, a company that carries on the traditional lithographic printing technique, Shusei created work for the Tokonoma, an alcove, that bridges the boundary between the original and the reproduction.

  • Apsu Shusei

    Since he was a child, Shusei has been interested in Japan’s ancient culture and customs and has often visited the hidden places and remote islands of the country. Inspired by his travels, he began to draw animals and patterns before changing his name to “Apsu Shusei” in 2009 and beginning his career in earnest. His painting style is characterized by hand-drawn geometric patterns and delicate lines, and he uses shoes, tote bags, paper, walls, wood, steel, mini 4-wheel drives among other objects as his canvas. Shusei also works in music under the same name, expressing the same minimalist and mysterious world of his painting style through sound. He loves ghost stories and animation, holding several ghost story meetings each year and performing at them with his band https://www.apsushusei.com/

    Since he was a child, Shusei has been interested in Japan’s ancient culture and customs and has often visited the hidden places and remote islands of the country. Inspired by his travels, he began to draw animals and patterns before changing his name to “Apsu Shusei” in 2009 and beginning his career in earnest. His painting style is characterized by hand-drawn geometric patterns and delicate lines, and he uses shoes, tote bags, paper, walls, wood, steel, mini 4-wheel drives among other objects as his canvas. Shusei also works in music under the same name, expressing the same minimalist and mysterious world of his painting style through sound. He loves ghost stories and animation, holding several ghost story meetings each year and performing at them with his band https://www.apsushusei.com/

FabCafe/MTRL Kyoto’s partner for this project was SPACE CO. LTD., who sought out FabCafe/MTRL Kyoto based on FabCafe/MTRL Kyoto’s previous work on the “Porta” project in the underground shopping mall at JR Kyoto Station. FabCafe/MTRL Kyoto worked with artists to create an art wall that conveyed Kyoto’s traditional culture and technology through a variety of methods.

At the Machiya Ebisuya, every part of the building is made of materials, history and technology that are inherited. FabCafe/MTRL Kyoto created an art piece to convey this message of “inheritance” to the guests. The goal was to create a one-of-a-kind, unexpectedly unique piece of art that would not be confined to the traditional design of a traditional building. Rather than aiming for a “straightforward” presentation of the concept of inheritance, FabCafe/MTRL Kyoto instead created an experience that would allow guests to use their five senses.

The first thing FabCafe/MTRL Kyoto did was to verbalize the value of “inheritance” and the thoughts that they wanted to convey, before exploring how to condense the message and express it to the guests.

Four materials were chosen to represent a traditional Japanese building: paper, ceramic (stone), glass and wood. FabCafe/MTRL Kyoto then explored the expression of these materials with six artists who specialized in the materials, incorporating old fittings from before the hotel was built and incorporating the story of the space into the expression.

The first thing FabCafe/MTRL Kyoto did after assigning an artist was to unravel the meaning of the word “inheritance” to identify the elements involved in the phrase and the act of it. They discussed what is inherited (things, people, feelings, history, time, place and so on) and the value that would be created through this inheritance (function, design, emotion, novelty, nostalgia, and so on). Artists whose work embodied both “inheritance” as a technique and a concept were selected to give viewers as much room to interpret and think about each work. Artists were also chosen for being constantly inquisitive about the history, technology and fundamental values of their materials, and their ability to experiment with and explore different methods of expression.

  • Kuniko Kinodo’s work is made from stones that existed in the site before the renovation.

  • Apsu Shusei experimenting at FabCafe Kyoto.

Because hotels are public places, maintaining the balance between allowing artists to express their individuality and avoiding evoking uncomfortable emotions, such as concerns about safety and hygiene, extremist politics and grotesqueness was a major challenge in the project. The director had to balance two seemingly opposing forces: creating an environment that allowed artists to try new forms of expression while also serving a security system that ensured the works fit into the overall image of the hotel. For the artists, the hotel was a matter of constraint for their creativity, and for the hotel, it was a matter of security. However, this tension led to beautiful artworks that captured the theme through unprecedented methods of expression.

Discussions were held with Suo of Hacomidori and Maeda of edalab.

FabCafe Kyoto served as a laboratory for the creation of many of the works.

“This project is unprecedented in Kyoto because it cuts the existing concept of Kyomachiya in half, dividing it into both a new building and a renovated building. Rather than being either renovated or torn down, Kyomachiya evolves into a new space that makes the most of its best qualities. I chose the word “inheritance” with this in mind. I decided to collaborate with FabCafe Kyoto/MTRL Kyoto in order to deeply root this project in the region, because I felt that the passion and handcraft of young artists and people who know the region, rather than renowned professionals, were the essential elements for this project. The final result is a unique piece of art. By working together with FabCafe Kyoto/MTRL KYOTO to create art that “inherits” the way it was in the past, we feel that we have succeeded in creating something creative and yet somehow radiates warmth.”

Yuya Matsuo, Designer, Nagoya Division 2, Space, Inc.

 

“In response to the theme of evoking the physical perceptions that lie deep within design and words, the creators created a work of art that exceeded our expectations by repeatedly interacting and experimenting with the materials.

And the reason we were able to proceed with the production without compromising our authorship is because of SPACE’s Matsuo’s courage and aesthetics, daring to weave “indeterminate elements” that cannot be completely controlled into the process of designing the space!

The fact that the opening of this hotel comes at a time when “accommodation” is undergoing a major transformation due to the COVID-19 pandemic is very meaningful to us. We hope that the Machiya Ebisuya will become a place where many people can visit and experience the history of the land and the people’s lives at a deeper level.

– FabCafe Kyoto Community Manager / MTRL Producer Kosuke Kinoshita

At the heart of Kyoto, nestled within the simple yet refined aesthetics of traditional Japanese architecture, FabCafe Kyoto beats out a steady pulse that connects the heart of cutting edge technology with the soul of traditional craftsmen. A short 5 minute walk from Gojo station brings you to FabCafe’s creator-centric workspace, where unique materials are gathered from all over the world, and a world-class service to connect material manufacturers with an extensive network of creators. As a division of Loftwork, a global creative company, this also means that FabCafe Kyoto provides everything from laser cutters to the latest 3D printing, digital fabrication, and AR/VR technology, fostering the perfect environment to develop creative business solutions. Work with us, contact us at pr@loftwork.com 

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  • Loftwork Inc.

    Loftwork is a creative company dedicated to making a positive impact through design with a global community of innovators. Aside from providing innovative design solutions to global clients across various industries, Loftwork also operates a number of owned services and platforms.

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    Subscribe to FabCafe Global newsletter for more stories in designs & innovation here.

    Loftwork is a creative company dedicated to making a positive impact through design with a global community of innovators. Aside from providing innovative design solutions to global clients across various industries, Loftwork also operates a number of owned services and platforms.

    Learn more

    Subscribe to FabCafe Global newsletter for more stories in designs & innovation here.

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