Kengo Kuma’s studio for Grand Seiko sits in the shadow of Mount Iwate
The Grand Seiko Studio Shizukuishi takes the natural world as its inspiration
Architect Kengo Kuma’s proclivity to put the natural world at the heart of his designs made him the natural choice for Japanese watch brand Grand Seiko’s new studio. Characterised by clean lines and a pared-back simplicity, the space is a natural foil for the sharp technicality which forms the cornerstone of a Grand Seiko watch.
The new two-floor wooden space, located in Shizukuishi, sits alongside the existing Morioka Seiko Instruments building and is set to be home to the watchmakers who assemble the mechanical watches. The brand suggests there is the possibility of a greater space for production further down the line as the watch collections grow. An exhibition space where visitors can learn about the defining moments and pieces in Grand Seiko’s history, is also in the works.
With its abundance of natural light, the building stays faithful to Kengo Kuma’s design codes, adhering to his belief that transparency is a key characteristic of Japanese architecture. Appropriately for this new studio he has, in the past, referred to his work as a ‘frame’ for nature, and one that allows nature to be experienced more intimately.
It is a fitting space for Grand Seiko, now marking 60 years, whose Nature of Time brand philosophy looks to nature’s rhythmic cycles as inspiration for their own commitment to accuracy. It is one they have always married with traditional craftsmanship, first evident in the gently elongated classic silhouettes of their first pieces in the 1960s, and still apparent now in the cleanly elegant watch faces of their new collections. §