Living Tokyo


“Were it not for shadow there would be no beauty”

Tokyo is the largest city on earth – a sprawling metropolis of 37 million people where life is lived at breakneck speed. Yet, amidst the noise and the bustle of the city, it is also possible to find moments of surprising calm, a dramatic contrast understood well by architect, designer and Salvatori collaborator John Pawson.

Pawson spent his formative years in Japan, “hanging around”, as he puts it, the studio of celebrated designer Shiro Kuramata, and his Span table forms the centrepiece of the dining room in Salvatori’s Tokyo apartment. Placed in a minimally appointed space, the delicate and precise balance of the Bianco Carrara surface and cherry wood suggests a sense of harmony that is complimented with accessories from Salvatori’s Home Collection – the Pietra tray, the Gravity paper weight – and Piero Lissoni’s Stone Tatami texture on the walls and floors. Inspired by traditional Japanese matting, the tactile surface evokes the rush and cotton fabrics used for tatami, and the delicate pattern appears almost malleable.

Situated in Omotesando – one of the most exciting districts for contemporary architecture – the Salvatori apartment is a short walk from buildings by SANNA, Toyo Ito and Tadao Ando. But while the dynamic, groundbreaking structures here are informing new architecture around the world, the apartment takes a more timeless approach. In the living room, the muted light from the vast floor-to-ceiling windows rakes the Bamboo surface that has been used on the walls in contrasting layers, creating a subtle variation of texture. Organised around Franz Siccardi’s graceful Ta_Volo coffee table, and completed with Elisa Ossino’s sculptural Urano lamp, the room is understated and calm – the prefect place to relax and read after a morning browsing the famous bookstores of the Jimbocho district.

After the calm of the apartment, the Shinjuku district is a startling hive of activity. Stopping briefly on the terrace of Shinjuku Station to watch the trains coming in and out of the world’s busiest railway station, it’s on to labyrinthine alleyways of Golden Gai and the 200 tiny bars, clubs and restaurants, for something quick to eat and drink. And then home, to the peaceful sanctuary of the bathroom – the Stone Parquet floor introducing a gentle animation that calls to mind the movement of water, and which leads to Ossino’s Alfeo basins from the Fontane Bianche collection, and the designer’s elegant, tall Archimede mirror. With the Rain texture on the walls recalling a “rustling grove of bamboo stalks”, as Lissoni puts it, and Pawson’s Span bench, the bathroom offers a sensual place for restoration and reflection.

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