JAPAN’S MOST WANTED
PART DESIGNER, PART PSYCHOLOGIST. YASUMICHI MORITA CATERS TO HIS FANS TASTES WITH WORK THAT MERGES CEREMONY WITH POP ART
Yasumichi Morita caters to his fans’ tastes with work that merges ceremony with pop art
OSAKA- BORN YASUMICHI MORITA didn’t train as an interior designer. He admits that what set him on his career path was a desire to afford the same clothing brands as his friends in label-obsessed late-1980s Japan. He needed a job. Starting as a window-dresser, Morita cut his interiors teeth on a bar named Cool in 1987. His design practice, Glamorous, now employs 50 people and has created award-winning projects throughout Japan and in London, New York, Paris and Hong Kong. “Whether the design is for a restaurant or club, I try to reach deep inside the human psyche… to create something that speaks to desire,” he says. “My job is to guide my audience and to satisfy their needs and wants.”
Morita-san, you published a monograph in 2013 titled Glamorous Philosophy No.1. How do you describe that philosophy? I didn’t attend design school. I did it on my own. I was just 18 and wanted to learn about restaurant and bar interiors and fashion, and create places where I would really want to go. And 30 years later, nothing has changed.
Tell us about your famous Baccarat chandelier from 2014. We created the biggest chandelier ever for [French crystal manufacturer] Baccarat. It was to celebrate the company’s 250th anniversary and weighed 1.8 tonnes with 25,000 pieces of crystal.
Is there currently a predominant style in Japanese restaurant interiors? People are much more aware of design than they were even 10 years ago. But it’s my impression that in Japan and worldwide, we see so much design that is similar. Fashions tend to follow the same direction. If someone does something successful somewhere, everyone will follow. I’m pleased that in Japan, there is now a return to traditional materials and fabrics. I, too, want to revisit our traditions and combine them with modern design.
What do you enjoy designing most, restaurants or bars? I like both but hotels are the most exciting as I select all of the fixtures and materials — right down to the toilet paper — because I want the customers to enjoy a perfect environment.
Is your focus mostly in Japan or are you working on projects globally? I travel all the time. In London we designed the interior of a restaurant. And I have been involved in hotel restaurants in Taiwan and Las Vegas.
Morita-san, you have achieved your ambition to design hotels. What is next? A nursing home for me, with a helicopter pad so I can go out for lunch! VL
At the Glamorous headquarters in Tokyo, pieces by Ottmar Hörl, Olympia Le Tan, Luis Morais and Helmut Newton. right: Yasumichi Morita 1 by Mozart Guerra. bottom: Yasumichi Morita with a chandelier he designed. opposite page, from left: spray cans by Mr. Brainwash, Life Is Flower by Morita and VISKEN 5 (Mint) by Damien Hirst.