Ariake take over an elegant Italian apartment for Milan Design Week 2022

Kelly C. Gamble

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At the beginning of June, I made a quick 24 hour trip to Milan for Milan Design Week 2022. With the Salone del Mobile – the largest furniture fair in the world – and various exhibitions dotted around town in palazzos and showrooms, there was so much to see. I only really scratched the surface but one thing I did make time to see was Cipango: Japan Reimagined, an exhibition by Japanese design brand Ariake.

I first came across Ariake at Stockholm Design Week in 2020, just before the pandemic hit. The company was founded in 2017 by two well-established furniture manufacturers, Legnatec and Hirata Chair, both based in Morodomi, in the Saga prefecture of Japan. The name Ariake comes from the nearby Ariake sea, but it also means ‘daybreak’ in Japanese.

In 2016, the two owners of Legnatec and Hirata Chair decided to join forces with Singapore- and Porto-based furniture designer Gabriel Tan to export their furniture to the world and give the brand an international appeal. Uniting Japanese craftsmanship and culture with a Scandinavian design aesthetic, Tan soon got on board Nordic designers Norm Architects, Anderssen & Voll, Staffan Holm and Note Design Studio, as well as Japanese designers Keiji Ashizawa, Shin Azumi, Canadian designer Zoë Mowat, Brazilian architect Marcio Kogan and Portuguese designer Rui Alves to design the first three collections for the brand. Through a series of intense workshops in Japan where designers and craftsman would live, work and eat together, Ariake’s elegant designs were born.

Although Ariake’s furniture was previously crafted in Morodomi, Japan, thanks to the pandemic and the closing of the Japanese borders, Ariake has since had to rethink its global strategy. Ariake’s 2022 collection is now being produced in a number of furniture workshops in northern Italy, which means they can offer a more sustainable collection for the European market with shorter lead times. Through a sharing of skills and the common appreciation of traditional wood working techniques, Ariake has been able to find a commonality with Italian design and European furniture manufacture.

Exhibition curation: Hanna Nova Beatrice / The New Era together with Ariake creative director Gabriel Tan. Styling: Norwegian-Italian duo Kråkvik & D‘Orazio. Art Direction: Martina Perrin, Photography: Sebastian Stadler

A refined, elegant interior with beige walls and wooden furniture. Ariake take over an elegant Italian apartment for Milan Design Week 2022 - Japanese design - Japandi interior Ariake take over an elegant Italian apartment for Milan Design Week 2022 A refined, elegant interior with beige walls and wooden furniture. Ariake take over an elegant Italian apartment for Milan Design Week 2022 - Japanese design - Japandi interior A refined, elegant interior with beige walls and wooden furniture. Ariake take over an elegant Italian apartment for Milan Design Week 2022 - Japanese design - Japandi interior

For Milan Design Week 2022, Ariake presented its 2022 collection in the stunning setting of a freshly completed private apartment by Italian architect Francesco Rota. I was taking all the interior notes – appreciating everything from the neutral walls and door handle details to the objects and lighting on display.

It was truly the perfect setting for Ariake’s designs; the architecture and furniture working cohesively together to create a calm, considered setting. As part of this complete world of refined, elegant design, Ariake also invited design collectibles brand Origin Made, American lighting brand Ladies & Gentlemen Studio, Japanese sound artist Yasuharu Okochi, Scandinavianstudios Folkform and Cappelen Dimyr. ‘The common denominator for all friends invited is an appreciation for craft and quality,’ says Ariake.

The name of the exhibition – Cipango – comes from the name Marco Polo gave Japan when he first learned of its existence in the 13th century.

A refined, elegant interior with beige walls and wooden furniture. Ariake take over an elegant Italian apartment for Milan Design Week 2022 - Japanese design - Japandi interior A refined, elegant interior with beige walls and wooden furniture. Ariake take over an elegant Italian apartment for Milan Design Week 2022 - Japanese design - Japandi interior Japandi interior with moody beige walls and parquet floors A refined, elegant interior with beige walls and wooden furniture. Ariake take over an elegant Italian apartment for Milan Design Week 2022 - Japanese design - Japandi interior Minimalist wooden kitchen with Japanese inspired elements - Japandi kitchen - Japandi design - minimalist kitchen

For Ariake’s 2022 collection, the brand has worked with designers Neri & Hu, Inga Sempé and Francesco Rota for the first time.

Inga Sempé has designed Cabine, a coat stand and mirror inspired by the French ‘cabine’ where you try clothes in a clothing store (below). Cabine can also mean the small rooms in boats and trains. Ariake describes the design as a ‘tiny house’, reflecting the Japanese cultural values of keeping one’s home tidy and presenting the best image to the world.

In the bedroom, Neri & Hu presented the Umu collection. The bed features a utilitarian structural frame that you can hang various attachments and accessories from, such as bedside lighting. The idea is to combine all of your bed and bedside needs into one simple piece, offering three different configurations to suit different spaces and needs.

The apartment’s architect Francesco Rota has created the Hoyo collection; a modular sofa with a curved wooden frame and soft, inviting upholstery. The name Hoyo means ’embrace’ in Japanese. Reduced to the bare essentials, each module comprises a seat cushion and backrest that is supported by an oak structure and wooden runners.

A refined, elegant interior with beige walls and wooden furniture. Ariake take over an elegant Italian apartment for Milan Design Week 2022 - Japanese design - Japandi interior Elegant bedroom with dark navy blue walls and mid century furnitureMoody interiors with dark beige wallsA refined, elegant interior with beige walls and wooden furniture. Ariake take over an elegant Italian apartment for Milan Design Week 2022 - Japanese design - Japandi interior

Every detail at Cipango: Japan Reimagined was just so elegant and refined. I hope this post has helped introduce Ariake to you and provided some inspiration on how to pair neutral tones with warm woods and soft textures to create a rich, luxuriously understated interior.

A refined, elegant interior with beige walls and wooden furniture. Ariake take over an elegant Italian apartment for Milan Design Week 2022 - Japanese design - Japandi interior A refined, elegant interior with beige walls and wooden furniture. Ariake take over an elegant Italian apartment for Milan Design Week 2022 - Japanese design - Japandi interior A refined, elegant interior with beige walls and wooden furniture. Ariake take over an elegant Italian apartment for Milan Design Week 2022 - Japanese design - Japandi interior

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