Delivering Versatility for KOSÉ
Nikken Sekkei designers delivered on client needs for versatility with the completion of a substantial renovation project for cosmetics maker KOSÉ Corporation in July 2021. The job entailed a remodeling of the firm’s 1,000m² office space on the 7th floor of a mid-rise building located in bustling Nihonbashi, Tokyo.
The event carried some historical significance, as the firm celebrates the 75th anniversary of its founding this year. The company is in the middle of its VISION 2026 business plan, which calls for aggressively boosting its global presence.
Tatsuya Hatori of Nikken’s Architectural Design Department led the project team, along with colleagues Yasuyo Sasayama and Miwako Kase.
The chic, brightly illuminated hall features a wide open floor space, and an industrial deco-style ceiling. The reception area is made of stainless steel with a blasted finish in different shades to express the elegance, shine, and sparkle in the image of a cosmetics manufacturer. KOSÉ opted for a white/neutral color scheme, because it was seen as “least obstructive,” according to the team.
“KOSÉ positions itself as a company that creates beauty, so the feel of the facility needed to be consistent with the idea of ‘an environment where beauty-related wisdom is born,’” Mr. Hatori said.
In selecting a philosophical concept for the facility, the team opted to eschew activity-based working (ABW) theories, ultimately settling on a space “neither open nor closed, not too concrete, and not too abstract,” Hatori added. “We wanted it to be stimulating for creative juices while accommodative to all personal preferences, similar to a café.”
The team employed white hues more extensively toward the entrance of the facility, as they connote feelings of welcoming and openness. In this area, guests and clients can sit for short, impactful meetings. Deeper into the room, color schemes become subtly darker, exuding a sense of relaxation and receptivity to staying longer. Here, employees can enjoy lunch, linger and chat.
The ‘universal appeal’ approach made partitioning the most critical ingredient in the design process. To this end, curtains were the main focus in an otherwise non-partitioned facility, as they allow for the formation of temporary semi-private spaces. Made of translucent lace, they afford a sense of partial, but not total, exclusivity. Ceiling-mounted curtain rails were arranged to enable countless configurations based on the need.
“Employees can alter the curtain arrangement by themselves, creating the right environment for what they do individually or as a team,” Hatori said. “You can go from an exhibition with no curtains at all to a lecture hall, or a small team gathering.”
Alternatively, the curtains can be completely swept aside, leaving a non-partitioned space for large gatherings. The curtains also react to the movement of people, air and reflect light -- all important to human sensitivities, the team said.
Somewhat serendipitously, although the design was created well before the COVID-19 outbreak, it turned out to be ideal for the kind of remote online meetings that have become commonplace due to the global pandemic, the group added.
“Everyone has different sensitivities to the notion of space,” said Ms. Kase. “We think variable design can suit virtually anyone, allowing people to gather freely and naturally.”
Ample window area affords plenty of natural light. However, the facility is also equipped with a fully adjustable artificial LED lighting system that can be manipulated to mimic any setting or mood.
“A lot of research has been done on human Circadian rhythms and the physical, mental, and behavioral changes that can occur in response to light intensity, all of which can affect worker productivity,” said Ms. Sasayama. “For example, white light tends to help people stay more attentive. But mellower, yellower light is often less stressful into the afternoon and evening. The lighting system we installed for KOSÉ can take full advantage of this.”
Tables and chairs are relatively light in weight, and easily assembled and combined to suit the need. The facility is also equipped with planters with several types of live greenery inside, all non-flowering and non-fragrant, consistent with the neutral overall atmosphere.
“Adding plants were seen as a way to help with fostering relaxation,” said Mr. Hatori. “But plants can also get in the way if not integrated into the high configurability aspect of the room, so the decision was made to put the planters on casters for full modularity. They can be wheeled in and out as needed.”
Facility name: KOSÉ Nihonbashi Office
Location: 3-6-2 Nihonbashi,Chuo-Ku,Tokyo
Principal use: Office
Client: KOSÉ Corporation
Job Scope: Interior Renovation Project
Total area: 1000m2
Renovated Area: 7th floor
Construction period: From November 2019 to May 2020
Construction: TOKYU LAND CORPORATON+ OKAMURA Co.Ltd.
Furniture Maker: TANK
Photo credit: Yasuyo Sasayama