ETHICUS theleema is a minimalist cafe located in Shizuoka, Japan, designed by Wataru Tanabe Studio. The client requested to design a café space for neighboring residents to gather around, which could also hold exhibitions by local ceramic artists and other artisans. The total floor area of approximately 50 sq.m is not enough for fulfilling the two functions; café and gallery. Therefore, rather than allocating space for each, they are combined and blended into a single space, which has the versatility to alter its functionality as needed. The L-shaped space is designed as a single white cube room with a step that loosely divides the space into the entrance area and the area in back.

New openings are added to bring in daylight and scenery, and objects are placed at regular intervals. These objects are round-shaped stands, logs, natural stones, mortar lumps, whose shapes and sizes are not optimized for specific functions such as tables and chairs used in the café. Rather, they can be utilized in more neutral manners as chairs and tables for the café or display fixtures, depending on daylight and scenery brought into space from the openings and items displayed in an exhibition. The top of the mortal lump is set low at FL+250mm, allowing for various layouts, together with custom wooden stacking stools and cushions. By providing “triggering elements” for the arrangement and installation of the space, we aimed to create a space that offers discovery and change in daily life at every visit.

Photography by Hideki Makiguchi