A café situated on the 2nd floor of the Sogetsu Kaikan in Minato ward, Tokyo. Its original interiors are still intact from when they were designed by Kenzo Tange in 1977. It also boasts some very picturesque views of the Akasaka Estate, the Korekiyo Takahashi Memorial Park, and the stone garden created by Isamu Noguchi. In order to preserve these features, the walls and ceilings have been left untouched, no new wall fixtures have been set up, and only the floor and furniture have been redesigned. The “stream” flooring designed by nendo has been fitted throughout to smoothly unify the bi-partitioned space. The sides of the counters have been fitted with same said material, and the flooring tile jointers on the counters and stairs have all also been aligned with those on the floor, so as to create and even greater sense of consistency within the room. Also, the tops of the counters have been finished in a gloss black to match the grey mirror finish of the ceiling. In the lounge area, the original “tulip chairs” by Eero Saarinen have been repaired for reuse with a new matted black paint finish. The accompanying “tulip tables” have also been repaired, and their tabletops have been fitted with the same mirror material as the ceiling. The result is an interior design that brings out the innate properties and merits of the original space as it was first conceived.
The café is chiefly managed by nendo, and inspired by our ever-growing collaborations with a wide variety of people, we have named it “connel”; a play on the Japanese word “koneru”, meaning “to knead” or “to mold”, as in molding a piece of clay. The word “nendo” itself means “clay” in Japanese. The café’s logo has been designed by taking the “n” from the nendo logo and bending it to form two “c”s. Similarly, the handles on our original mugs have been bent, or “kneaded”, by hand, giving each a unique shape. Also, the stirring sticks have been designed to stay upright on their own, and they have been made out of tin so that they gradually soften and change their form with continued use.