Hako-ie (2008)

In 2008, Eyes-Japan, a company who prides itself in its fusion of traditional and modern, announced that they had created Hako-ie. Literally, box house, the structure is meant to serve as a temporary tea house within its larger dwelling. Hako-ie is a sealed off space that filters out and mutes activity in the rest of the home. It acts as a miniature man-made universe. Being eminently erasable in nature, the structure boasts easy assembly and disassembly without the need for a single screw or nail. That year it was awarded a Good Design Award.

You start out with something like this…

bypass a few steps…

and voila!

But Sen no Rikyu didn’t stop with his trimmed down soan tea house. As tea master forToyotomi Hideyoshi (1537 – 1598), the most powerful man in Japan at the time, Rikyu responded to that power by constructing Tai-an (待庵), his most extreme tea house ever. It’snijiriguchi entrance was so small that participants had to remove their sword (a symbol of rank) and crawl inside. The interior was anything but glamorous. In fact, it resembled a tiny cave more than anything else. It was the first time that a nijiriguchi had been used for such a powerful figure. The result was a 2-tatami mat space, just enough room for Rikyu and his master, the most powerful man in Japan, to conduct an intimate tea ceremony4.


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