Designer Profile: Noriko Sawayama Director of BABID

Name: Noriko Sawayama BIID (The president of BIID Japan Chapter)

Company: BABID, Business Associates of British Interior Design, The Curation Hotel AssociationBABID

Position within company: Director


Tell us a little about your background in design (education, experience, etc)

Noriko had run a design practice in London for 17 years since 2000,  providing comprehensive Interior Design and consulting services for commercial (Hotel, Restaurant, Spa), residential, and furniture design projects world-wide. Noriko shifted her business base from London to Tokyo in year 2017, by Establishing BABID The Business Associates of British Interior Design.  Her aim is to introduce British interior designers to Japanese projects as an interior design producer. BABID has completed a good range of commercial and residential projects. . Noriko, as a director of BABID has awarded Entrepreneur of the year at BCCJ Business Award 2018.

Noriko used to be an established Hotel and Restaurant Management Consultant in Tokyo before her current career. Making good use of her 10-year experience in the industry, she can also provide consulting services for opening projects for hotel and restaurant. Her client list includes the award-winning Saki Restaurant in Smithfield and the Noto Restaurant in the City. She completed the spa design for prestigious Capitol Tokyu Hotel in Tokyo.

Furniture Design
Her extensive furniture and fixture design skills are always highly valued in her projects. She designed D&DI Award short-listed Chigaidana Cabinet in 2001. She has also designed a range of furniture ‘Len-yu’ for a Japanese leading furniture company Karimoku in 2009, that debuted at Milan Salone 2010 and was exhibited in 2011, 2012 as well. Both were featured named magazines including World of interiors.

Lecturer and Journalist
She is also much respected writer/lecturer in the field of interior design in Japan. She has published many reports and essays about European Interior Design and Trends more than decades, which include trend analysis of exhibitions in London, Paris and Milan. Her deep knowledge of European and Japanese products and trends reflects on her diversity of design.

She has been running a highly regarded on-line college for Japanese interior professionals since 2012 with a unique curriculum that she developed over years of professional experience in London.

How would you describe your personal design style?
A sympathetic and rich fusion of European and Asian design philosophies resulting in rich, textural contemporary interiors that pay homage to traditional arts and crafts,  which were based upon her cultural background and extensive study and skills including Interior Design (Diploma), Lighting Design (studied at Bartlett Msc.) Soft furnishing and decorative paint (BTEC), Space Psychology, Colour Analysis, Flower Arrangement, and Tabletop coordination.

Where does your design inspiration come from?
My early education in geography and museum studies are a great influence. I love nature, landscapes, geology and the colours and textures of the natural world. Balanced with a deep appreciation of both Japanese and British culture, art and tradition – this is what inspires my work.

In what direction do you feel that design is moving towards in a general sense?
Sustainability is a term often used in design, however it is especially relevant to Japan. Nature has power in Japan and we are learning to cope with the devastation of earthquakes, floods, and typhoons. But our planet is changing and in Japan we are experiencing the results that humans have made to our climate. So we have to protect and not harm it as much as possible. One of the best ways is to design for longevity, not be trend driven, so that our interiors are not disposable. Taking this attitude means quality is king, and this in turn helps to sustain the skills and knowledge of the traditional artisans as well

Name five key themes to consider when approaching design in 2020 and beyond.
Curation, Sustainable, Craftsmanship, Tradition and art.

If you could offer one piece of advice when it comes to design schemes, what would it be?
Design is not about trends and themes. We design for people, their needs and if we get it right it will last for a very long time into the future. Yes, there are technological advances, and materials etc that we need to appreciate and integrate, or develop, but ultimately the future is getting it right in the present. It’s like some of the pieces made by artisans hundreds of years ago – if the quality is there, the piece will always have a life and a use, no matter what is in fashion. Detail – god is most definitely in the details. The choice of material, how things connect, fit and fix, the attention to the miniscule, always aiming for the highest quality, and how to make it totally fit for purpose so that it really fits the user. And always collaborate with the very best artisans who can bring their skill and knowledge to make the product the very best it can be.

How important are The International Design & Architecture Awards?
The Design Awards add prestige and kudos to my career as an interior designer. They give clients, artisans and artists confidence in me by helping to demonstrate and promote the quality of what I do. This gives me a competitive advantage in the global world of interior design.

What projects are you currently working on?
A ‘curated’ hotel NO.3 in Atami Japan,  which is a new concept for Japan. We are designing the major interior renovation including music salon, luxury bath-suites as well as 4x60m2 rooms and Tea ceremony suite. Alongside this we are curating every item that is specified – selecting art works, commissioning pieces of furniture and bespoke items, using as many artisans and artists as we can and selecting work by other designers. The aim is to create a luxurious hotel with a very individual personality that comes from taking a curating approach to the design of the hotel

What are your aims and goals for the next twelve months?
To roll out the concept of the curated hotel elsewhere in Japan, bringing in British designers and artists as part of the curating team. This is partly driven by the Tokyo Olympics coming in 2020 and the need for hotels of a high standard that have personality. There is a big market for hotel design as currently there are 30 million inbound tourists in Japan, Which the government want to increase to 60 million by 2030.

Final thoughts; tell us a little more about yourself and your daily inspirations:

Your most treasured possession? : an antique cabinet with mother of pearl work

Your favourite holiday destination? : Wales, UK

Your favourite hotel, restaurant & bar? : Tawaraya-ryokan in Kyoto Japan.

Your favourite book, film & song? : The Curation Hotel (my book)

Your favourite food and drink? : Sushi

Your favourite way to spend an afternoon? : A long walk with my dog on the hill in Atami appreciating a magnificent view of Mount Fuji
If you weren’t a designer, what would you be?: A Conductor

Anything else interesting? Opera singing