By IDr Wong Pei San Essential Design Integrated Sdn. Bhd. Malaysia


HOUSE 68, a residential garden sanctuary project that has featuring the floating staircases by  Essential Design Integrated SB – has been awarded for the MIID REKA AWARD 2020 – Residential Category GOLD, together with ADF Award 2020, a recognition to the best female designer in REKA AWARD of the year. The award has been announced in【ADF DESIGN NEWS】Trend Report / Competition News – Vol 197, April 2021. 


H68 by CreativeClick


H68 by LinHo

Due to Covid-19 worldwide border restriction, The Tokyo Research Trip was postponed to 24th July 2023. This report is of a photo diary of the 6 days I spent in Tokyo + Hakone, out of which half day (25th July 2023) was spent with representatives from the ADF and GARDE International.

Day 1, 24th July 2023 Arrival at TOKYO


Shibuya crossing

We arrived in Tokyo Narita International Airport at 330pm. We took The Narita Express to depart to the Tokyo Station interchange to JR-East / Shibuya Station and decided to walk from Shibuya Station to our hotel Shibuya Tokyu Stay. Shibuya District is famous for crowded pedestrian crossing, fashion stores, neon signs, and giant screens lively atmosphere with music being played everywhere. We decided to explore the city at night.


Shops opening for dinner


Street karts touring in the Shibuya city

Day 2- 25th July 2023 Aoyama Design Forum visit @ Alliance Bldg


Aoyama Design Forum bar area


Aoyama Design Forum Gallery

We had a meet & greet session with Shinichiro Misawa-San, Garde co. Ltd, at Alliance Building, Minami Aoyama, Tokyo. We were brought to visit Aoyama Design Forum Gallery + Bar. Unfortunately Yoshiyuki Okada-san not able to join us, Wataru Ishikawa-san was with us in the welcome lunch at INTERSECT by Lexus , Omotesandō, which was just located opposite of Alliance Building. We have presented the MIID book of “Decade of Design 2011-2021” to ADF, Wataru Ishikawa-san received on behalf.


A welcome lunch – from left IDr Wong Pei San (EDI) & Ar. Chan Mun Inn (EDI), ADF board member – Wataru Ishikawa-san and Garde Int Shinichiro Misawa-san ( with MIID book of “DOD”)


Intersect by LEXUS (photo courtesy レ クサスはお留守な【INTERSECT BY LEXUS – TOKYO】@表参道|ジョリオ

INTERSECT by Lexus is a brand event gallery on ground floor with a restaurant / café on first floor. The 3 storey building in the curtain wall glazing, with intricate bamboo- laminated lattice screen with a motif inspired by the Lexus spindle grille. The collage of whitewashed Lexus vehicle parts as a presentation of the brand, as part of the staircase wall leading up to first floor restaurant / café from entrance.


Internal staircase with a collage of whitewashed Lexus vehicle parts, mirror ceiling and rugged metal staircase


The dining area using dark wood for ceiling and floor, contrasting with natural daylight that filter thru a designed façade screen, brighten up the interior space, it give a serenity to the diner.

Nezu Museum, designed by Kengo Kuma

Nezu Musuem with a transitional veranda, deep overhang and lush linear bamboo garden greeting the visitors before entrance

As there was no pre-arranged meeting or visits with other architects or designers, we decided to start with Shinichiro Misawa-san’s recommendation of visiting Neru Musuem. The Musuem designed by Kengo Kuma, with his signature of using wood as key material, combine traditional and contemporary design elements, the side entrance from main street enters into a transitional veranda with a deep overhang for shade, with lush linear bamboo garden filtering the street  view,  greeting  visitors  beforewalking into the museum entrance.


Shinichiro Misawa-san walked us to Nezu Musuem after lunch and he had a photo with me before he head off back to his work.


The entrance gallery has been designed with double volume sloping wooden ceiling, with the same wood texture used for floor, and large frameless viewing window toward lush green garden.

The entrance gallery has been designed with a double volume sloping timber ceiling, with the same timber texture used for floor. Large frameless viewing window face toward a lush green garden, that allow the interior space to extend beyond the glass, and to transition one before entering into the park.


The interior of the gallery using low wattage spotlights, which makes the sunny garden more lively and inviting for a city dweller like me


The garden was design with winding, gender pathways leading into some rest area bench and ponds, wandered in the manicure green garden make us forget about the busiest of the city



Exit of the museum via parking gate, the Nezu Museum blend harmonically with the streetscape

Starbucks Reserve Roastery, designed by Kengo Kuma

The Starbucks Reserve Roastery Tokyo along Meguro River

Starbucks Reserve Roastery Tokyo in Nakameguro Neighbourhood, located in a walking distance from Shibuya Tokyu Stay, is one of only five in the world to create an immersive coffee experience. Kengo Kuma designed the 4-storey building with extended fins to cater for terraces, layered and finished in light wood clasdding, extending the use of wood from exterior to interior, with the inspiration of art of origami on the ceiling panels.

The glass facade exterior and terrace allow customers to enjoy the view from Meguro river landscape in season change. The interior, the entrance floor inspired by cherry blossoms decorating the world’s largest Starbucks roastery coffee cask, a 17meters barrel in the atrium connecting 4 floors, hundreds of cherry blossom flower were created hanging from the mid air in front of the cask.


The huge copper coffee-bean cask as main feature of the 17meters height entrance


The wooden ceiling in a folded origami liked form, contrasting from the matt grey floor

Day 3, 26th July 2023 Muji Hotel


Muji red signage mark the entrance from the busy streetscape

MUJI, an international brand name synonymous with its minimalist design directions for household products and lifestyle. The brand’s venture into hospitality with their own chain of hotel. We decided to visit their showroom and explore their flagship outlet in Tokyo.


A repetitive and rhythmic method of product display with subtle variations in colour and texture surrounds the space providing visual texture


Muji Café continue the same design language for product display and dining setting

Day 4, 27thJuly 2023 Yamagaso Ryokan, Hakone


Entrance house into the Ryokan


Pavilion style guesthouse separating by courtyard garden

A short trip away from a busy Tokyo city for the last 2 days, to explore the countryside outside the busy and dense city of Tokyo. A short train ride to Hakone, a lake side town to visit old traditional dwellings. Yamagaso, an old courtyard Ryokan within newer guest accommodation. A visit and study of scale and size amongst traditional architectural planning and interior.


Reception and lounge in traditional Japanese architecture


Living area with traditional sitting facing the courtyard garden with privacy screen

The traditional architecture with sliding screen panels to form the room partition, doors and windows that allow the room to be compartmentalization and expansion. It is interesting to see how natural ventilation was designed into the rooms with panels design on the upper and lower parts of the wall. Natural lighting and view framing was also designed into the rooms, framing a natural garden and courtyard. The rooms and spaces provide and understanding of scale and proportion and how floor plans and walls are done in modules of the tatami. The modularity is very obvious in these older buildings and provide an understanding of how design and structure was done.


Modular tatami as a measure of a room


The shoji screen act as a privacy and day screen


Courtyards divide the buildings giving a sense of privacy and space between buildings. Gardens are designed as pathways.


At night, low angle lighting design lit up the pathway and tree in the courtyards

Day 5, 28thJuly 2023 Amazake-Chaya Tea House, Hakone


Traditional Japanese thatched roof called Kayabuki Minka – by cutting and bundling silver grass and reeds together


The traditional house with raise floor has a transitional verandah step down from the house to the outdoor

In Japanese tradition, tea house is an architectural space designed to be used for tea ceremony gatherings. This tea house was name after their signature drink amazake (sweet rice wine), has been renovated and restored to how it used to look in the Edo period (1603-1868), complete with a thatched roof, providing visitor a rest stop, inside the tea house and outside in the garden for their tea and traditional deserts.


The courtyard and garden design is a important design element in Japanese architecture to allow for natural light, ventilation and views


Received the ADF AWARD 2020 certificate from MIID president (2020-22) – IDr Lai Siew Hong


I would like take this opportunity to thank everyone who have involved in organizing the ADF Award 2020 and the Tokyo Trip 2023:

MIID Reka Award 2020 organizing committee + Aoyama Design Forum (ADF) for the ADF Award 2020, that providing a wonderful opportunity for me to explore Tokyo in design and craftmanship in comparison of now and then, from Tokyo city to Hakone.

I would like to thank the ADF Director, Yoshiyuki Okada-san initiated the email to myself, Shinichiro Misawa-San from Garde co. Ltd who has been coordinating on my trip and ADF board member Wataru Ishikawa-san for exchanged of ideas in the welcome lunch.

I learned from the Tokyo trip, from the advanced, dense city to the preserving cultural tea house in a smaller town : Design shall be “Preserving the culture root, that allow fostering the identity and future.”