‘You’ve painted the tatami!’
As part of Tokyo Designers Week, the temporary LLove Hotel invited eight Japanese and Dutch designers to each design a room based on the Japanese phenomenon of the love hotel.
Picture your favourite love nest: a serene room filled with white pebbles and plants. Or perhaps a room with a ‘ceiling’ made out of dozens of fishing lines suspended at a height of 50cm from the floor. Perhaps one feels greater lust for the chocolate-brown room or the room with the bed mounted on a wooden clockwork wheel to allow guests to be spun around on.
In the LLove Hotel in Tokyo, fourteen rooms are on offer, all designed with a unique story. Initiated by Amsterdam’s Lloyd Hotel, the temporary hotel is located in the very hip neighbourhood of Daikanyama and runs from 22 October until 23 November 2010.
Love hotels are a well-known phenomenon in Japan. Japanese houses are small, walls are thin and bedrooms are often shared with other family members: so privacy is often hard to get. Enter the love hotel. For the night, couples can choose from regular rooms or a number of differently furnished rooms, some often outrageously themed. The objective is that the room stimulates the fantasy of the people who rent the room.
For some years the concept of the LLove Hotel was on the mind of Lloyd Hotel’s artistic director Suzanne Oxenaar. Because she had lived in Japan for several years, she was familiar with the Japanese phenomenon of ‘love hotels’ and became fascinated by the concept of ‘selecting a room according to one’s mood.’ Oxenaar teamed up with Japanese architect Jo Nagasaka and this collaboration led to the month-long LLove Hotel that opened on the 22 October coinciding with Tokyo Designers Week.
Days before the opening, neighbourhood residents noticed the sign ‘LLove Hotel.’ They assumed it would be a ‘traditional’ love hotel and objected against the hotel, claiming it would be a shame to have such a place in the area. But after hearing what the LLove Hotel was really about, they understood and withdrew their complaints.
Guestrooms 301 to 308, the double rooms, got a severe makeover. On the opposite of the hallway, the single rooms, 309-314, designed by Jo Nagasaka together with the LLove creative team are more modest with much understatement and humour in them. They are all in some way connected to the neighbouring room. Nagasaka also designed room 303 where he mounted the bed on a piece of clockwork: “I was inspired by the mechanism of the Dutch windmills.” He removed the rice paper from the sliding doors and left only the frames. In room 302, designer Yuko Nagayama transformed her room into a sea of small pebbles furnished by plants here and there. Lying down, looking outside, it feels like the border between inside and outside has disappeared. Ryuji Nakamara, room 304, created a ‘water surface’ by dozens of fishing lines that run from wall to wall on some 50 centimetres form the floor. Lying in the bed, looking up at this ceiling of lines, it’s a feeling of safety under water where everything above is blurred. As one sits upright in the bed, the head through the ‘water surface’, the image becomes clear. The reflection of the wires is like having risen from the water.
Where the Japanese designers preferred to break from tradition, the Dutch designers kept the original interior intact. Room 308, designed by Pieke Bergmans is her translation of a love nest that is chocolate brown with an eight-meter long mattress that curls into the room like a wave. “It makes the room playful, one has to crawl under the mattress to reach the other side,” Bergmans comments. A lighting feature of two lamps and two bulbs melted into each other was produced in the Netherlands. A smaller lamp with a drop of ‘chocolate’ in it was made in Japan in collaboration with a Japanese glass blower. “I worked together with a small old woman. It was a great adventure, the people in the factory were very eager to get it right. It was a completely new experience for them.” Small ‘double’ items like clothing hangers and steel frames are stuck together as one. “You know what’s really funny. The Japanese visitors who enter the room are foremost astonished that I’ve painted the tatami mats!” Bergmans was not the only one: Stefan Scholten (Scholten & Baijings) had also painted the tatami mats in room 306 white. His room, white with pink accents adorned with illustrations on the wall was admired by Japanese visitors. Understandably, for its ‘Japanesque’ atmosphere; simple, quiet, clear. Taking the opposite approach, Richard Hutten, room 307, ‘wall papered’ the entire room with all kinds of tape. The effect was an explosion of colours to be enjoyed from the bed that is composed of a pile of mattresses – a piece from Hutten’s Layers collection - in the fairy tale-style of the ‘Princess and the Pea.’
The wallpaper at entrance and cafe was designed by graphic agency Thonik. Love is in the air here with the colours red and pink taking over the space. Illustrations depict Dutch windmills and Japan’s most famous volcano Mount Fuji which explodes with hearts. Furthermore, there’s a hare on a bike and a ship filled with celebrities like Nelson Mandela and Mother Theresa, people who can be considered as symbols of love. The ship refers to the name of the Dutch vessel ‘Liefde’ that reached the shores of Japan in 1600 marking the start of the 400-year bond between the Netherlands and Japan. Images of a reindeer and watermelon refer to the ancient city of Nara. The city is actually the owner of the building and wanted to sell it. But after the financial crisis, Tokyo real estate prices plummeted and the building has remained empty since. In the city of Nara lies the shrine of Shogun Ieyasu Tokugawa, the man in power when the Dutch first arrived in Japan. The heart is the most recognisable symbol of love regardless of culture or language. Nikki Gonnissen (Thonik): “When children think of love, the first thing they draw is a heart with an arrow. It’s an iconic image that is clear to anyone in the world.”
Dutch designers: 305 Joep van Lieshout; 306 Scholten & Baijings; 307 Richard Hutten; 308 Pieke Bergmans
Japanese designers: 301 Hideyuki Nakayama; 302 Yuko Nagayama; 303 Jo Nagasaka; 304 Ryuji Nakamura
309-314 Jo Nagasaka & LLove creative team.
Thonik: design of wallpaper entrance & café
LLove Hotel 22 October until 23 November 2010
Daikanyama i Studio
Ebisu Nishi 1 – 36 – 10
Photography: Takumi Ota
Click on the images to enlarge
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