Open More Doors is a section by ArchDaily and the MINI Clubman that takes you behind the scenes of the world’s most innovative offices through exciting video interviews and an exclusive photo gallery featuring each studio’s workspace.
For this episode, we talked with Jo Nagasaka of Schemata Architects about his firm’s history, mission, and office space. Schemata works on a wide range of scales and programs, from furniture to city development, but maintains a commitment to a one-to-one scale of design that focuses on material exploration.
Schemata approaches architecture from a highly unique perspective, which is discernible throughout its oeuvre and in the firm’s office space itself. Gaining inspiration from everyday objects and existing environments, Nagasaka derives his designs from the particularities of each client and site, eschewing universal values in favor of fresh and specific solutions. As a result, his works acquire their originality from the unique stories behind every project, and from using material and space in unexpected ways. In Nagasaka’s words, rather than crafting his own space, he finds value in a variety of things. Thus, the beauty in his designs comes not from a universal standard but an adapted perspective.
Historically, Schemata’s approaches to specificity have centered around five themes: subtraction, misuse, updating knowledge, invisible development, and semi-architecture. One example of indivisible development is a city project they are currently working on with no visible external changes but a discernible internal transformation felt by visitors. Unlike many contemporary starchitects, Nagasaka privileges spatial experience over ostentatious aesthetic shape.
Schemata’s office, located in the accessible Aoyama area of Tokyo, is the firm’s second location after the client and company expansion that accompanied the success of their Blue Bottle commission. Now that the firm has reached 25 employees, a new management system and better environment are currently under construction.