Tokyo – The brief from Mastermind, a Japanese streetwear brand, had little to do with aesthetics. For its new head office, located in Tokyo, the company asked design studio I IN to solve its team communication woes – there were far too many spatial barriers amongst the four people at work. ‘What they asked us was to build their communication and strongly bound their work relations,’ explained I IN partner Yohei Terui.
The architect responded by looking at the clothes: due to the quality of the materials and detailed techniques its jumpers, trousers and hoodies are made with, Mastermind’s punk-looking apparel usually commands a higher price than its streetwear competitors. A respectful elegance is embedded into the brand’s DNA. ‘So even though this is a streetwear brand, we resolved to push in a more sophisticated direction, instead of a rough and typical street style,’ Terui added.
Take, for example, the jet-black oak topped with white Corian that makes up the shared ground-floor table – the first floor is an exhibition space that doubles as a photo studio for Mastermind’s collections. Before, operations were segmented, but now ‘they do everything there, from design to marketing to calling in outside suppliers to produce clothes,’ explained co-founder Hiromu Yuyama. ‘That’s why we proposed this big table: it expresses the idea of a workshop.’ Communications have, as expected, improved.
Beyond the oak and the Corian, the white wallpaper that covers the walls has a concrete-like texture to it. That reinforces I IN’s original intent: to heighten the quality of the workplace interactions by indicating their importance through the use of unexpectedly elegant materials. ‘Luxury with sharpness is part of their identity,’ said Yuyama. ‘We just made the space suit them.’