Innovative Tatami Mats Transform a Rental Apartment in Japan
Browsing online property listings, architect Yuki Mitani came across a rare find: An unfinished room inside a rental apartment? Located in the Higashiyama district of the city of Nagoya in Aichi Prefecture, Japan, the apartment had three rooms—but only one, seductive in its raw beauty, had floors, walls, and ceilings stripped down to the 49-year-old building’s concrete shell. An entranced Mitani—who heads up Nanometer Architecture with wife and fellow principal Atsumi Nonaka—saw unique untapped potential, and quickly signed the 650-square-foot space. “Somehow it was easy to see how to use and open it up,” he remembers.
The couple, who now live in the apartment with their small children, first used the raw room as an office, and then as a closet. Eventually they realized what they really needed was an event space—suitable to receive both the family and events held by their architecture firm. “The main purpose was to make a place people could gather around,” Mitani explains.
Now a home and a showroom, Reception House’s unfinished room is mostly kept just that, with the addition of soft, new flooring: an innovative tatami mat from Daiken. “With chairs not required, tatami mats seat as many people as possible,” notes Mitani. Performance-based woven paper instead of traditional woven grass also means the Daiken tatami mat is highly durable and water-resistant. “It’s safe to spill drinks,” Mitani reveals. A handy feature for both children and colleagues.