Designer Profile: Atsuko Tsukahara Director of Studio Cotan

Name: Atsuko Tsukahara

Company: Studio Cotan

Position within company: Director


Tell us a little about your background in design (education, experience, etc)
My childhood, which I believe is the main source of my inspiration, was surrounded by beautiful art. My father was an artist and an architect, and I have grown up watching my father drawing, mixing a variety of colours, using various methods such as creating unique texture by wiping pigment with clothes.

His creation of unique world has inspired me. During weekends, he used to take me for a long walk and our destination was always a lovely museum. All the precious experiences my father offered me makes me realize how art has always been close to me.

I have studied European culture and history including western art history. After I have worked in the advertising agency as my first job, I have decided to pursue my dream career in interior design. I obtained the diploma of interior design, and subsequently started working as an interior designer at a construction / architect / interior design company. I have established my own business in 2000. I studied at the Interior Design School in London in 2015, and I am currently working with both Japanese and international clients as a member of BIID.

How would you describe your personal design style?
My style would be to use natural materials, carefully combining the colours and the texture of fabrics.
I always highly appreciate the regional material. I look into the history / tradition / characteristics of the place and attempt to unite them.
My design also features traditional elements transformed into modern style.

Where does your design inspiration come from?
The experience of traveling abroad definitely inspires me and brings different perspectives towards design.
The transition of light and colours I discover in daily life gives me great inspiration too.

In what direction do you feel that design is moving towards in a general sense?
I believe recent design has a tendency of involving local material, industry and crafts.
Design narrates not only the history of clients’ personalities, but also the bigger picture of the history in the area.
Especially due to the considerable change brought by COVID-19, design which has strong connection with the area will be even more crucial.

Name five key themes to consider when approaching design in 2020 and beyond.
Sustainability, Natural, Texture and Vivid Colour, Local production for local consumption, Tradition into Modern.

If you could offer one piece of advice when it comes to design schemes, what would it be?
My advice would be to harmonize the colour, material, proportion and texture schemes.
Application of balance and Harmony is the key to any types of design theme.

How important are The International Design & Architecture Awards?
The International Design & Architecture awards provides great opportunities for the designers to work hard and inspire each other.
This will encourage to create unique and wonderful architecture, and I strongly believe that beautiful design creates beautiful life.
Especially the moment like now, it is time to consider how you would like your home to be, and the power that design has, can provide comfort and relaxing time to people. This award brings the realization of how design is strong and important to our life.

What projects are you currently working on?
My current project is a newly built residence with a spectacular Japanese garden for a couple expecting for their new baby.

What are your aims and goals for the next twelve months?
I would continue focusing on each project and keep challenging myself to go beyond my clients’ expectation.

Final thoughts; tell us a little more about yourself and your daily inspirations:
Your most treasured possession?My beloved family
Your favourite holiday destination? Naoshima, which is very exciting island, full of beautiful modern art in Seto inland sea in Japan.
Your favourite hotel, restaurant & bar? Benesse House Oval Hotel in Naoshima, which is the only place in the world incorporating a museum and a hotel.
Your favourite book, film & song? Book: Gone with the Wind, Film: Breakfast at Tiffany’s,  Song: Hey Jude
Your favourite food and drink? Sushi, Wine
Your favourite way to spend an afternoon? Driving to a mountainside and have a lovely lunch with my best friends
If you weren’t a designer, what would you be? I love music, so I would like to be a musician.

Anything else interesting?
I would always like to pursue my passion for interior design for the entire life as following my favorite phrase by Samuel Ullman “Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.”