Architect Masafumi Sanada discloses how global design sensibility abets the cause of design in the hospitality sector.
In 2005, Masafumi Sanada founded M-Style Inc, a design company based out of Tokyo, Shibuya. As the Principal Designer, Masafumi began working on projects in Japan and abroad soon. M-Style provides a variety of services including the planning and designing of hotels, service apartments, residences, bungalows, retail shops and other stores, restaurants and furniture.
Masafumi always considers the special characteristics of the region the project is in, such as the people´s traditions, culture and customs, along with the desires of the guests. He then tries to create an atmosphere that brings people and the objects around them together as one. In a tOte-a-tOte with Ruth Dsouza Prabhu he speaks more about his design philosophy, his projects in India and the future of hospitality design.
Every city has its own sensibilities. As an international designer, how do you integrate this in your hospitality projects?
When working on the design concept of every project, I make it a point to study the culture of each city. I incorporate my findings into my design concept and bring in the character of the city in my designs.
I communicate with all the people I work directly with to understand a project and its space better. This gives me a deeper insight into the personalities of the clients and the kind of project they want to create.
What is your design philosophy?
My design philosophy involves what I call the ´comparison of the gap´. I try to bring in juxtaposition in the design work that I do.
The materials I use for the creation of spaces are natural wood, stone and fabric, and the expression and variation found in the surfaces of these materials becomes an important element of the design. Along with these natural materials, I use industrial materials such as iron, glass and stainless steel, which create a strong contrasting impression. The gap created between them, that of the old and the new, gives rise to an enhanced feeling of dynamic contrast for the guest, who is otherwise in a relaxed space. This allows him to feel that he is somewhere special, leaving him with a deep impression of a wonderful experience.
Effective lighting is also an element that I use in the composition of space. Using a variety of different devices, I endeavour to direct the lighting of all my spaces in dramatic ways.
How important is the play of materials?
Materials are intrinsic to my designs. I try to source as much local materials as possible, to bring in a relation between the local culture and my Japanese sensibilities. But, when I don´t get the desired material, I try to manipulate materials with some processing to suit my design.
The design for the all-day dining restaurant at JW Marriott, Pune, was envisaged as having a wall and column with the rough finished stone or wood. I needed natural face stone or wood in a considerably large size to achieve this. Since such material is hard to source I altered the design a bit to bring in a stacked format, where several pieces of the material are cut and stacked in an artistic pattern, thereby creating a whole new material for a wall. While the design changed, the concept did not. The design had an underlying tone of ´age´ attached to it.
You work in collaboration with the big Japanese brand Super Potato. How do you ensure a balance between two design approaches?
Before I began M-Style, I worked as an interior designer for the Tokyo-based firm Super Potato. The projects here focused mainly on designing restaurants, spas, guest rooms, lobbies and other facilities of world-renowned hotels. The international projects that I was involved with included the hall design for a furniture exhibition in Milan, and the restaurant design for a Las Vegas hotel. As a chief designer, I led interior design work, from the selection of furniture and materials to the supervision of construction.
My time with Super Potato has given me a deep understanding of their work philosophy. I am familiar with their way of designing and, therefore, it is easy for me to maintain a balance.
You have several Indian projects to your credit. How do you balance the sensibilities of the two countries into your designs?
My design work is based on the global design concept. All my ideation is done keeping in mind the aesthetics of the country I am working in. I try to bring in the character of the country through an original concept. In the course of my work in India, I have found that Indian consumers do not like counter seating. My design of District 6, a brewery in Bengaluru, is a good example of how I worked my seating options as per local flavour and the end user´s preference.
What are the new and changing requirements of hospitality clients?
Every client has different needs, and across the board everyone asks for something unique. This is the beginning point of design for me. But my work is not about giving the client something different or new right from the start. The difference evolves as the work progresses. I try to gradually bring in something that is new to everybody. I believe this approach gets us that new perspective and difference in an ideal way. When you deeply understand the concept, something new automatically comes to you.
Tell us about the evolving design requirements for the next decade in hospitality sector.
I believe the requirements will be based not only on design but also on operation and business. Budget and luxury will be two main criteria, with guests also being distinguished as per these categories. Budget hotels will be aplenty while luxury ones will be fewer.
Which has been your most exciting project in India?
It has to be my first project in India - a Chinese restaurant and night club in Mumbai. Everything about it was very exciting! I fell in love with India at this point. I discovered that Indians are proud of their nation and that they live for love. It was a great first experience for me and my first impressions about this country still remain strong.
Are you currently working on any new projects in India? Contact
I am currently working on designing a specialty restaurant in a 5 star hotel in Pune.
#401-1-14-1 Jinnan, Shibuya-Ku, Tokyo JAPAN 150-0041
Meet the designer
Firm: M-Style Founded in 2005.
Firm specialisation: Interior design for every kind of F&B and Hospitality - entire Hotel and Residence.
Design philosophy: I aim to create a space and not merely decorate it.
Favourite architect/Designer: Takashi Sugimoto (interior designer) (President of Superpotato).