Takashi Yanai, Partner in Charge of the Residential Studio at Ehrlich Architects since 2004, knows how to build minimalist houses to maximum effect. The architect focuses on family homes and mixed-use residential projects, so he’s a perfect resource for anyone looking for visual inspiration, especially in the kitchen and bath realm. A foodie and avid restaurant-goer, it’s no wonder that Yanai designs particularly beautiful and highly functional kitchens. We sat down with the UC Berkeley and Harvard grad to find out just a little bit more about the inspiration behind his breathtaking designs.
How would you describe your aesthetic? My aesthetic is clean and contemporary but I don't think modern design should be sterile. I like to bring out the personality of a client or the character of a place.
How did you get started in the business? I actually started as a design and architecture journalist. It exposed me to some of the greatest designers and architects in the world. That exposure inspired me to create beautiful spaces instead of writing about them.
Where do you find creative inspiration? I've been a huge fan of photography since childhood. It was an alternate career path for me. I also find inspiration in meeting other talented people in all creative fields, whether it be fashion, cinema or literature. Social media, Instagram in particular, has been an amazing vehicle to combine these two things. It's become a visual notebook for sharing personal inspiration and has been a way to connect with other amazing like-minded people.
If you could reside on a Hollywood film set from any era, what would it be, and why? In the Mood for Love is a beautiful movie. It's gritty and urban, but the colors and costumes create such a gorgeous atmosphere. On the other extreme is Space Odyssey 2001. Stanley Kubrick sets are sublime, immaculate and just spot-on beautiful, even though they're a little eerie.
What takes a kitchen or bath from ordinary to extraordinary? The beauty of the materials and the quality of light. I want these kinds of everyday spaces to be elevated and as beautiful and inspirational as possible.
Photography by Roger Davies, Miranda Brackett, Matthew Millman and Barry Schwartz, courtesy of Ehrlich Architects