Awe-inspiring design may not grow on trees, but it sure can dress up walls! Last year, architecture and product design group Nendo Studio completed the renovation of this gorgeous Moss House private residence in the Ebisu area of Tokyo, Japan. Taking inspiration from the plant life that scales the walls lining the nearby Shibuya River, the Nendo designers used dried moss to cover the interior walls with vine-like patterns. This custom wall treatment has a vivid color, a rich textural quality, and gives the starck white corridors a sense that the are alive.
It is easy to love the lushly illustrated walls of this interior at first glance, but to truly appreciate the thought behind Nendo’s projects, we wanted to know more about this small team of Japanese designers. Formed as a partnership with a small number of associates, Oki Sato explains that ‘Nendo’ means “free-form clay, like Play-Doh, very soft, very fluid.” Sato’s group draws inspiration from natural occurrences, which to others might seem mundane. “Some people get inspiration by looking at a magazine or going somewhere far away, seeing something really different. But I really get influenced by everyday life. Just walking around my neighborhood for five minutes, I can often find something influential.”
The Moss House interior is a perfect example of their twist on vegetation as an inspiration, since it takes cues from the moss stained walls of the river sides, but uses a trendy, graphic pattern that is similar to modern wallpaper patterns. “Cladding the walls entirely in moss would simply have been too much. We wanted something in-between, so we applied the moss in a pattern that looked like wallpaper, creating an ambiguous texture that’s neither artificial nor natural.” In order to unify all the small rooms of the house, the same graphic pattern is emulated on door frames and cable outlets. We can imagine that this repetition was surely a design risk to take, but Nendo Studio hit the mark with their sophisticated use of natural materials and pattern.
The Nendo Studio designers are also the creators of the ‘1%’ lines of products, lighting, and furniture. These minimal and witty products get their name from the fact that there are only 100 of each in production. The idea is that owning one of the pieces is like having a 1% stake in the product, and also gives them an artistic and exclusive nature. It is easy to see that a product like their Cabbage Chair has the same thought process as the Moss House, with its subtly decorative and playful nature that pays homage to plant life.