Takashi Yanai, FAIA is the “Y” in
1. The tea ceremony
There is something to be a said for a slow deliberate ceremony that is all about human interaction. My grandmother practiced and taught the tea ceremony and so what I know began with her and her tea house in Chigasaki, not far from my hometown of Tokyo. What I love about the tea ceremony is that it brings together so many things that are of particular importance to me. There is a garden aspect, an architecture aspect, an art aspect. It is about food and drink. But most importantly it is about how the focused, deliberate concentration on these things together provides a vehicle for what it means to be human, amidst nature and among other humans.
Photography was actually an alternate career for me. Before practicing architecture I studied literature and was an editor for prominent design magazine. In the end, I’m a visual person and photography is visual poetry. Especially today, photography has become a medium that speaks so broadly to people. When I seek out other creative people, it is often photographers that I enjoy meeting the most. Photobooks bring my personal creative passions together in an under appreciated medium. A photograph can be such a powerful summary statement of so many things that can’t necessarily be put into words. And photos compiled and presented in a photobook, just like how a great recording album is a sum greater than the songs, expresses something greater than can be expressed in a single photograph. Some favorites include Robert Frank’s
3. Common Projects sneakers
When it comes to my wardrobe I’ve been accused of not liking color. This isn’t true at all. For instance, I love black. And dark black. White, is a very very light black. I like to keep things basic and simple. Or as I prefer to say, essential. For instance my favorite shoe is a basic black low-top sneaker by Common Projects. I’ve been wearing out pairs of their classic Achilles Low in black for the last ten years. It is part of my architect’s uniform. Beat up and casual on a weekend with my kids or clean and scuff free at a museum board meeting. Kudos to the designers for having created an essential sneaker that would make any minimalist proud.
4. Landscape design
The further I get in my architectural design career the more I appreciate how important landscape design is in the totality of the designed environment. My work is so much about the relationship between inside and outside, about blurring the boundaries between interior and exterior space. I also love collaborating with talented landscape architects and designers. I don’t see how a house in particular can be successful without beautiful and considerate landscaping. Ironically, on weekends I find myself preoccupied with my garden rather than the house.
5. Hiroshi Sugimoto