Designing complex simplicity

Yuji Yamazaki is a Japanese architect from Tokyo, licensed in New York and principal of YYA based in New York City. 
Ti Gong

Yuji Yamazaki

Who is he?

Yuji Yamazaki is a Japanese architect from Tokyo, licensed in New York and principal of YYA based in New York City. 

YYA’s first commission, Finolhu Villas in Maldives, earned numerous prestigious design awards including “Best Beach Hotel” hosted by Design et al Magazine in 2015. Yamazaki’s extensive design practice covers a wide range of projects. Prior to establishing YYA, he served as a senior associate at Janson Goldstein and created projects for Armani, W Hotel, The Breakers Hotel, Calvin Klein and Saks Fifth Avenue. 

Please name one work you are most proud of? 

The Muraka at Conrad Maldives, the world’s first undersea residence, is one of the most exciting projects we have participated in. We managed to reverse the land-bound evolutionary history of life back into the sea. In terms of interior design, the idea of bringing a luxury residence under the Indian Ocean directed us to avoid any signs of “utilitarian” appearance that you often see in any underwater structure, such as a submarine.

We wanted to do opposite of that. We used an analogy to the modern evolution of an aircraft’s interior that used to be a scarce cabin, to provide luxury and comfort while you are 30,000 feet (9,000 meters) above in the air. This analogy led us to what we have now — a sense of luxury and comfort while you are 16 feet under water.  

Ti Gong

The world’s first undersea residence “The Muraka Residence” at Conrad Maldives Rangali Island will soon open this year.

Are you currently involved with any project?

Kudadoo Maldives Private Island will open to guests late this year. This is another fully solar-powered island in the Maldives. Our design, interior and landscape breaks away from vernacular design approach and I hope we are adding a new typology to the ultimate luxury in the Maldives. 

What’s your design style?

I don’t think I have my style per se. Simplicity, or omission of visual complexity is always the keyword we always go back to. For whatever we design, “I like design to be semantically correct, syntactically consistent and pragmatically understandable. I like it to be visually powerful, intellectually elegant and above all timeless. 

Where are you most creative? 

I like to bounce ideas back and forth with people, preferably in the morning. Whatever we are designing, listening and developing a mutual understanding with people opens up new creativity.

What does your home mean to you?

I have two homes now, Tokyo and New York. I always miss a home when I am in the other. To me, is an incubator, where I feel safe and cultivate thoughts and fill up my brain, then get ready to go out there to do my work. I am traveling all the time and typically completely exhausted when I return home from project sites on the other side of the globe. Great to have two homes to come back to.

What do you collect?

As an architect, I have collected so many wood, glass, metal material samples that I hope to use one day in my ideal project. The samples got out of control and filled not only my office but spread out to my home. It took years to get rid of the mess…

What will be the next big design trend?

More people will move from rural areas to urban cities in the coming years. The main challenge for designers is how to deal with old infrastructures in the cities to accommodate growing population.

We might see more housing projects in outer cities. We might see more retrofit projects to the existing infrastructures related to the population. We might see more transport-related projects for mass transit. 

Within the dense context of cities, architectural design trend should add something new.

For coming years, I think design trend might not be about designing something but rather creating new typologies of spaces for healthier environment for denser population.

Special Reports