Japanese garden design from Mitsui & Partners real estate office
There are lush plants and gravel beds in the Tokyo offices of real estate firm Mitsui & Co., which were designed by local interior studio Float to be “as stress-free as possible.”
The workspace is located on the third floor of a 1980s office building in Chiyoda, an exclusive area of Tokyo that also houses the Imperial Palace.
Float set out to bring new value to the old building, creating a working environment that could be “cherished and used for a long time”.
“In this project, we aimed to create a space that respects both people and the environment by updating the building’s old charm and showing its new value in Tokyo, where there is a remarkably high rate of rebuilding,” the studio told Dezeen.
This practice was presented in a dark and awkward space, with a corridor running down the middle of a long, narrow floor.
Float’s solution involved reducing the interior to a “skeleton” and removing the corridor to create a semi-open space for Mitsui & Co. employees.
The remaining walls were adjusted to a height and position that would not block any natural light.
“The walls were built to match the architectural unity, giving a sense of depth while blocked flow lines were removed so that the space can be viewed from different angles,” the studio said.
“The result is a harmony of function and aesthetics with a clean, simple look.”
The window surrounds have been deepened and lined with matte grained teak to add warmth and character to the office while moderating direct sunlight.
The same wood was also used for skirting around walls, floors, windows and doors.
“To create harmony in the space, we chose trees with similar characteristics,” Flott said. “Employees spend a lot of time in the office, so we aim to create a space that is as natural and stress-free as possible.”
Float used dividers at different heights, along with different floor levels and furniture heights to create designated areas for different work styles.
Sofas and low tables are installed near the windows, allowing visitors to sit and enjoy the outside world in a comfortable environment.
Long communal tables provide space for focused work while another area serves as a lounge where Mitsui & Co. employees can mingle with others in the building.
“Instead of sitting in the same seat all the time, we created an environment where people can move around, creating opportunities for communication and a natural flow of people in the office,” the studio said.
Different areas are defined by narrow areas of gravel placed in troughs in the ground.
“The boundaries are defined in such a way as to give each area its own independence, evoking the delightful features of a landscaped Japanese garden with a tea house,” the studio said.
“The pebble is a sign for switching spaces, and is a modern representation of the unique Japanese way of communicating signs.”
Plants with green foliage add a soft, organic element to the space, providing a link with nature within the city.
“We placed large plants on the symbolic tables where people tend to gather,” the studio said.
“We also considered the shadows created by the trees to be an element of comfort. The organic and natural shapes also help reduce stress and create a relaxing atmosphere.”
A cavernous meeting room booth is tucked within one of the partition walls, covered in a gray fabric chosen for its sound-absorbing properties.
“This gives the impression of a cave,” the studio said. “Once inside, the space gives a sense of security and allows people to focus on communicating. It’s a place where they don’t have to worry about other people’s eyes and voices.”
For the furniture, Float chose pieces with a timeless design dating back to before the building was constructed in 1983, in an effort to create a sense of timelessness.
“We wanted to revive the interior of an old building and choose the right furniture for the space that will continue to be used in the future,” Flott said.
“We used furniture in the lounge space that was designed in the 1960s, For example, and it is still being produced today.”
A Mitsui & Co corporate office has been shortlisted in the Small Workspace Interior Design category of this year’s Dezeen Awards.
Also in the running are digital artist Anders Reisinger’s office, which features surreal details that reference his otherworldly displays, and the Indian Cricket Club’s library, set between tree-like wooden columns.
Photography was by Tomooki Kengaku.