Take a look inside the new book of Jo Nagasaka / Schemata Architects, which offers readers insight into the Japanese designer's concepts and processes. Order your copy now at frame.shop/books!

The book is written by the designer himself and has a number of personal essays outlining design developments, followed by in-depth features of the projects detailing the process of putting the concepts into practice. Here, extracts are selected from a number of the essays in the book.


We want to reflect the spirit of 'bringing joy to daily life' in our design
An example of 'designing a process' is the Marikiska pop-up store we created for Marimekko during Tokyo Design Week. Marimekko's textiles are designed with vivid colours in order to brighten up the long winter in Finland, and we wanted to reflect this design spirit of 'bringing joy to daily life' in our design. The gallery was too difficult to find for first-time visitors; so we started from 'designing' a way to direct people to the venue. Our solution was to use balloons. We asked visitors to come to the venue while holding balloons in their hands; they were followed by a new group of visitors also holding balloons, and eventually many balloons gathered around the venue to call attention to its location – serving as a kind of 'street sign' that simultaneously brightened up the streets with colours. When people arrived at the venue, they released the balloons and the ceiling of the gallery became filled with them – it was totally transformed into a with a 'colourful sky'.

For the Hanare project, the client requested that we treat this house as a place of experiments (credit: Takumo Ota).

The positive effect of 'addition' is evident not only in appearance; it also encourages residents to think proactively
The rough textures of building materials exposed in the interior create a state of 'incompleteness'. Here, one could start the act of 'addition' from the 'negative' state to create a space. In this way, elements added to the structural frames would stand out. I always wanted to build a house in this way. The positive effect of 'addition' is evident not only in its appearance. There is no apparent distinction between construction and completion; the life of the house changes then slowly and gradually. As time goes by, the residents may feel a need to make changes because their life has gone through a gradual transformation. Due to the fact they can add elements on their own without hesitation, this can create gradual changes. When I imagine architecture like this, I feel that architects should be able to plan and redefine 'completion' of architecture more freely.

ColoRing is made by applying three layers of paint on uneven wood, then sanding to reveal the patterns (credit: Schemata Architects).

There are opportunities to simply focus on 'renewal of knowledge' and materialise our ideas in pure forms
Influences helped develop the source of my creative activity; 'knowing' became the first step of my design. I have come to think that design is about encountering new 'knowledge' that inspires people – it may be anything, such as what I heard from a client or what I found on the site – and spread the new knowledge to people by translating it into a space or an object. Knowledge is constantly renewed if one continues to design. If there was a 'design dictionary', it would be a great joy for me to contribute part of the 'knowledge' that I discovered and share it with all the people.

At the heart of the design focus for the Nadiff store was how to activate customer circulation (credit: Takumi Ota).

Designing a vibrant store atmosphere, my challenge is to analyse, describe and evaluate this aspect
Although architecture naturally does not exist for the sake of being recorded, it has been recorded by means of still images or photographs for a long time. We learnt and thought about architecture designed by other architects mostly through still images. For this reason, we usually take it for granted that our work would be presented through still images. Even when we explored the notion of ‘movement’ in our design, it was difficult to present the idea; the notion of ‘movement’ could be understood from the aspect of function but not from an aesthetic aspect. Therefore, we never had a chance to really focus on ‘movement’ in design. Recently, however, we grew accustomed to seeing moving images on social media on a daily basis. This was the reason why I developed a strong interest in ‘movement’ these days… Creating a vibrant store atmosphere encourages movement in the space.

The 'Komazawa-dori Gazing Party' at Happa (credit: Schemata Architects).

One day I hope to make my dream come true – of realising a city where people feel so happy by just strolling around
I have a wish to expand my design range to places where the importance of design is not yet acknowledged. When looking around aimlessly on the platform of Shinjuku Station the other day, I suddenly realised that the world is full of such places. Our design effort might not be so effective in such places full of disturbances and noises. On the contrary, it might be easier and more effective to propose design inside protected and controllable places – but I think such ideal places would be probably less than 1 per cent of the existing environment around us. Instead, I would like to focus on and engage myself in designing the remaining 99 per cent, while hoping one day to make my dream come true, of realising a city where people feel so happy and stimulated by just strolling around.

At the top of this article is the sketch of Marikiska (credit: Schemata Architects).