Why "Japandi" Is the Next Big Interior Design Trend, According to This New Hotel
Interior design buffs are no strangers to the inventive, striking and sometimes quirky design that comes from Japan. Now known as one of the top minimalist trendsetters of the world, Japan's design history consists of a lot more color...
by Heather Ash

Interior design buffs are no strangers to the inventive, striking and sometimes quirky design that comes from Japan. Now known as one of the top minimalist trendsetters of the world, Japan's design history consists of a lot more color and ornate decoration, still seen throughout the country today. Our product manager, Alana Sampson, recently went on a group trip to Japan to experience the juxtaposition of the country's old and new way of things and along the way, discovered what's sure to be the next big design trend: Japandi. This style combines Japanese and Scandinavian terms relative to design. It makes sense why these terms would be combined too, they both embody a high contrast, functional and minimalistic approach to interior design. During her recent stay at the new Hotel Koe in Tokyo, Alana learned all about Japandi design and how this hotel is setting a new standard for discerning travelers.

We sat down with Alana to chat about her stay at Hotel Koe, situated in the middle of Shibuya, and things to do nearby in Tokyo along with her favorite finds that aren't yet readily available in the United States (hint: toast in Japan is nothing like toast in the U.S.). 

Photography: Kenta Hasegawa

First impressions of Hotel Koe?

First thought - this place is seriously cool. From the minimal and beautiful Japandi design (Japandi= Japanese Scandinavian- yes, it’s a thing), to the location in the middle of bustling Shibuya, home to the world’s busiest crosswalk, to the trendy locals hanging out in the first floor cafe-bakery, this place is on to something.

As further evidence of just how cool this place is, Vice hosted their Japanese magazine launch party in the lobby on the first night we were there.

Photography: Ryoji Iwata | Kenta Hasegawa

Give us a rundown of the hotel? Any standouts? 

With fewer than 10 hotel rooms, Hotel Koe is a micro-hotel that maximizes efficiency and vibes in every way possible.

The first floor and lobby are home to a bakery-cafe where you can get a mean bowl of ramen, a burger, or indulge in a selection of self-serve Japanese pastries. The second floor is where you’ll find an eponymous clothing and design store that feels like a hybrid of Urban Outfitters and a modern art museum.

On the third floor, a guest-only, poured-concrete bar serves up champagne happy hours and japanese-style breakfasts. Hotel rooms come in sizes Small, Medium, Large + XL, each using stone, slate, concrete, wood and white linen to create a modern, yet inviting space to rest and rejuvenate after being immersed in the bustle of Tokyo.

Photography: Kenta Hasegawa

Time to dive into design - give us the inside scoop.

Japanese design is known for maximizing efficiency, function and beauty (KonMari method anyone?), and Hotel Koe is no exception. Every part of the hotel experience has been carefully considered and thought out, from the custom hotel slippers and branded toiletries in the guestrooms to the lighting and artwork in the hallways. At breakfast I encountered possibly my favorite touch, the most whimsical little toaster (I didn’t even know a toaster could be so lovable.) This slate colored toaster perfectly accented the concrete bar top and, bonus, added moisture back to my toast, making it extra pillowy, while still giving that perfect crunch. Before staying here, I had no idea toast could be so joyful.

Photography: Kenta Hasegawa

Profile the perfect guest.

Hotel Koe is perfect for young couples and solo travelers looking for a way to connect with the community while still being able to escape from the city. With Airbnb’s being all but illegal in Japan, Koe does an incredible job of bringing art, culture and community to a luxurious hotel stay, complete with all the amenities to boot.

Photography: Kenta Hasegawa

What are some of the cool things to do around Hotel Koe?

Take a stroll through Yoyogi Park and experience the Meiji Shrine. Visit the Mori Art Museum in Roppongi and take in art work from locals and renowned artists alike. Wander down Cat Street and get a scoop of the richest black sesame ice cream from Gomaya Kuki and then head over to Omotesando Hills for one of the world’s finest pour over coffees from KOFFEE MAMEYA. More than anything, get yourself a little bit lost and find something incredible in the nooks and crannies of Tokyo.

Photography: Yu KatoFreddie Marriage

Japan: why go and why now?

There is such a juxtaposition of hyper modern and rigid traditional elements in Japan that play themselves out in the most incredible ways. From design and culture to adventure and cuisine there’s so much to explore - it’s definitely worth the trip. Also, Marie Kondo, the organization queen is from Japan, so bonus points there.


Final thoughts on this new hotel?

Book early and GO!

Photography: Ryoji Iwata


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