Projects AXOR

Urban Living in Tokyo and San Francisco

Compact Luxury
Schiltach, June 2021. Together with one of the leading international consulting firms on future trends, The Future Laboratory, AXOR has dedicated itself to the topic of 'Compact Luxury', exploring the megatrend of urbanization. The aim is to bring architects and interior designers into exchange in order to gain new ideas, insights and inspiration for a new meaning of luxury in the urban environment. By 2050, two in three people will inhabit a megacity – a development that will proceed despite the Corona Pandemic. Already, living spaces are shrinking as outside stresses grow, fueling the demand for an ever-higher quality of life inside the home. A private oasis amid the bustle of the city, the home is expected to offer areas not only for socializing and entertaining but for restoring one’s sense of well-being. Focus is shifting to personal spaces of retreat and revitalization. Oki Sato, founder and chief designer of nendo, Japanese architect Takeshi Hosaka and Robert Edmonds & Vivian Lee, founders of the renowned San Francisco-based Edmonds+Lee Architects, also devoted themselves to the changing function and design of spaces. With their three residential examples of urban living in megacities like Tokyo and San Francisco, they capture the essence of 'Compact Luxury'.

Stairway House, Tokyo: Multi-Generational House with a Narrative

With more than 38 million inhabitants, the Tokyo metropolitan area is the most populous metropolitan region in the world. Urban planners attribute the success of the Tokyo metropolitan area, at least in part, to the region's ability to regenerate itself: From re-development on a huge scale, to designing future scenarios with artificial intelligence, the region has shown time and again that it is open to upgrading itself through innovation. This attitude includes ordinary citizens who have developed a great deal of skill in making the most of limited spaces. Innovative projects with shared facilities, such as the Stairway House, and a separate genre of Tiny Houses show, that the new urban luxury is not only measured in square meters. The Stairway House by renowned Japanese design studio nendo offers exactly the kind of solutions one would expect from a well-designed multigenerational home, from shared facilities to thoughtful planning of spaces. But founder and chief designer of nendo, Oki Sato, wasn't satisfied. By organizing the home and garden around a single dynamic stairway structure, he demonstrated a core principle of Compact Luxury: not just optimizing space, but giving it character, meaning and soul. The family that commissioned the Stairway House wanted a home where they could feel relaxed and free. Spanning two generations, they strove to connect with the garden and with each other, while, according to Oki Sato, "maintaining a comfortable distance." After seeing how stairs served as a lively meeting place in two of his recent public projects, Oki conceived of a stair structure that "gently connects the upper and lower floors along a diagonal line to create a place where both generations can find security in each other's subtle presence." By pushing the house to the north side of the lot and adding a glass façade to the front, the designer maximized sunlight, ventilation, and views, and maximized garden space. The stair structure begins outside, in the garden itself, and provides both families - the grandparents on the first floor and the parents and child on the first and second floors - with a common entrance to the house. By penetrating the facade just below the second level, the structure unites the exterior with the interior, and household with household. "Accelerating" upward through progressively narrower steps, it dissolves into a large skylight, connecting the house to the world above. In the other direction, it merges with the driveway into a single straight line that extends into the neighborhood. Inside and out, the stair structure is dotted with potted plants. "I arranged 100 flowerpots as randomly as if they were sitting on the stairs," Oki says. "It's like a garden coming into the house from the outside." Bringing greenery into the house is just one of the many roles the structure plays. "I wanted to design the staircase to serve functions rather than just be an object," the designer explains. Other functions include accommodating bathrooms and storage spaces. Oki Sato worked with AXOR products in Brushed Black Chrome for the water-related spaces of the Stairway House. For the bathroom faucets, he chose AXOR Uno, inspired by the early Modernist aesthetic of purism, boasting clean lines and timeless geometries that complement the calm, minimalist aesthetic of the Stairway House. For the bath and shower, Oki Sato opted for AXOR Citterio M and AXOR Citterio E. Designed by Antonio Citterio, the AXOR Citterio M and AXOR Citterio E collections are a perfect match for the subtle poetic spirit of the home.

Love2 House, Tokyo: Compact Luxury as a Way of Life

With Love2 House, architect Takeshi Hosaka brings a personal vision of luxury to life in just 18 square meters. "Luxury does not depend on the size of the floor space, but on how a home meets the client's needs and reflects his or her priorities," the Japanese architect and professor at the prestigious Waseda University, says of his Love2 House in Tokyo. He doesn't just apply the principles of Compact Luxury to his work - he lives them every day, together with his wife and "client" in their famous Love2 House in Tokyo. The home sits on a plot of just 31.4 square meters. Hosaka had originally planned a house with two floors and 36 square meters of living space, but his wife had other ideas. Inspired by a book about the Edo period of Japan, when a home of 10 square meters was considered sufficient for a family of four, she decided that a one-story house with 18 square meters would be large enough for a couple. The Love2 House offers its owners a sense of personal satisfaction that goes to the heart of Compact Luxury. Defining his own priorities as "feeling the natural elements like the wind, the sunlight, the people," Hosaka artfully integrated each of these into the tiny house. For example, through solar simulations, he discovered that the Love2 site has no direct sunlight for three months of the year. "That led me to design two curved roofs that open up to the sky," he explains. "In winter, the skylights bring a soft light into the house - like in Scandinavia. In summer, the house is filled with brilliant sunshine - like in a tropical country. The skylights provide constant variety - the color of the sky, how the sunlight appears, the shapes of the clouds." The Love2 House also features an outdoor bathroom with shower, so, as Hosaka says, "I can enjoy nature even while in the bathroom. I envisioned the outdoor bathing area as a place of tranquility and reflection. The AXOR Citterio E bath thermostat and AXOR ShowerSolutions hand-held shower are simple, elegant and sophisticated. They enhance the experience rather than distract from it." For human interaction - another priority - the front of the house has a floor-to-ceiling window. "I wasn't sure we could maintain our privacy," the architect admits, "but to tell you the truth, it was an excellent idea. It made it easier for us to communicate with neighbors when we moved into the community. When we open it completely, passersby can just talk to us. They are like long-time friends. Kids poke their heads in curiously. We even pet stray dogs from the dining room."

Switchback House, San Francisco: Compact Yet Spacious Thanks to Open Spaces

In San Francisco, where land prices are high, lot sizes are small, and opportunities to design a house from scratch are scarce, people tend to maximize the square footage of a new building. For their own home, Robert Edmonds & Vivian Lee, founders of the renowned Edmonds+Lee Architects, took a different approach, focusing on quality of space rather than quantity. By opting for three bedrooms instead of four, eliminating redundant spaces, and creating a sense of openness and flow, they made a compact design feel remarkably spacious. The boldest move of all, however, was to flip the house so that the bedrooms are downstairs and the kitchen, dining and living areas, including a large outdoor terrace, are upstairs. This ensures the best views and light and creates a sense of airy spaciousness in the part of the house where the family spends most of its time. "I think the idea of the 'in-house spa' was important. If you think of your home as a sanctuary, you should take every opportunity to emphasize those values," says Vivian Lee. Edmonds and Lee also chose AXOR collections in the bathroom and kitchen for this reason. In the bathrooms, they chose AXOR Uno - the fixtures designed by Phoenix Design embody the purist ethos of simplicity, reduction to the essentials and self-evident function. "It's just so clean and pure," Edmonds says of AXOR Uno. "It's the perfect reflection of a simple faucet - nothing less, nothing more." In the kitchen, Edmonds and Lee opted for a faucet from Philippe Starck's elemental AXOR Starck collection. The collections, Edmonds says, "go well together."

About AXOR

AXOR conceives and manufactures iconic objects for luxurious bathrooms and kitchens. Developed in collaboration with world-renowned designers—Philippe Starck, Antonio Citterio, Jean-Marie Massaud and Barber Osgerby among them—AXOR products come in a variety of styles. All AXOR faucets, showers and accessories are produced to the highest standards of quality. With an expertise that extends far beyond the products themselves, AXOR inspires and enables architects, interior designers and the design-savvy public. Together with AXOR, they shape water-related spaces that reflect the unique personality of the user. Part of the Hansgrohe Group, AXOR is a forward-thinking brand dedicated to developing distinctive products, manufactured with excellence.


Astrid Bachmann
Deputy Lead Corporate Communications, Global PR AXOR