What did Tomas Maier feel in Japan? | カーサ ブルータス Casa BRUTUS

What did Tomas Maier feel in Japan?

What did Tomas Maier, Creative Director of Bottega Veneta, with his profound love and knowledge of architecture, encounter on his trip to visit modern buildings in Tokyo and Kagawa?

The interior of the Nissay Theater Hall is characterized by an organic form. The walls, which use gold and cobalt glass mosaic, glitter when light strikes. Tomas touches and carefully observes the wall.


5:00pm Nissay Theater

Built in 1963. Design: Togo Murano. The Nissay Theater is sited in the Nihon Seimei Hibiya Building. The building provides a contrast between the severity of its exterior and the organic form and rich coloring of its interior. The undulating walls and ceiling of the hall create good acoustical effects. Murano said that the ocean-like coloring of the hall’s ceiling was, envisioned as being like the flower of the hydrangea. From its start the theater has worked hard to disseminate the arts more widely, such as by presenting free invitation programs for elementary school students. (This program has been taken over by Gekidan Shiki [Four Seasons Theater Company].) The façade uses a whitish coloring that contrasts with the blackish exterior of the old Imperial Hotel across the street. It even has windows for seeing the Imperial Hotel.

“It’s wonderful that the details from fifty years ago have been perfectly preserved.”

Tomas Maier arrived at Narita Airport in early October. After checking in at the Hotel Okura Tokyo, he immediately jumped in a car. His destination: the Nissay Theater in Hibiya. Tomas’ objective on this trip to Japan was to see the current state of Japanese modern architecture.

The Nissay Theater opened in 1963, with a design by Togo Murano. Tomas, who was making his first visit to the theater, walks first on the marble floor of the lobby. “The flooring material over there is different, isn’t it?” Tomas asks. The finish of the flooring changes from the office to the theater, to the entrance of the Nissay. In the office the floor is a mosaic design. The lights on the ceiling of the lobby are in various geometric patterns. The gently undulating stairs and railings are all from the time the building opened. Tomas is completely entranced by the elegant curves.

On entering the hall a cave-like space opens out. Round pearl oysters are like stars glittering on the ceiling. “Wonderful,” Tomas sighs. He sits in the seats, touches the walls and experiences the space.

This theater was the brainchild of Gen Hirose, the president of Nippon Life (also known as Nissay). Back then, a theater that aimed to be the best aroused suspicions, and Hirose was questioned about the theater in the Diet. His philosophy, however, was, “If you build a good container, good things will fill it. When you see something good your impressions will shape the rest of your life.” He didn’t retreat one step.

True to Hirose’s philosophy, the theater has become known as a venue for first-rate plays and operas in the midst of the city center.