Japanese Sensibilities and California Cool Blend at KINTO’s LA Store

The lifestyle brand’s first brick and mortar store is a lush and light-filled space designed to communicate its story and philosophy


Since its founding in 1972 — in Hikone, a city in Japan’s Shiga Prefecture — as a wholesaler of porcelain and ceramic tableware, KINTO has always aimed to bring inspiration to daily life. In the decades since, the Japanese brand has added to its portfolio its own line of tableware, drinkware and interior accessories to fit the modern lifestyle. 

Objects are created with careful consideration for the ways in which users might interact with them, and are characterised by a simplicity and elegance that allows them to blend with the surrounding space. ‘Our core value is the balance between usability and aesthetics,’ says Laura Takemoto, KINTO’s head of global communications. The beginning of 2019 marked a new step in KINTO’s path with the opening of its first two brick and mortar boutiques, the first in Los Angeles and the second in Tokyo just a few weeks later. ‘We wanted to create physical spaces where consumers can get the full KINTO brand experience,’ Takemoto explains. ‘Instead of just selling products, the idea is to share our story and the values that we cherish.’

While KINTO’s philosophy and designs are rooted in Japanese sensibilities and craftsmanship, the brand is also influenced by international cultures and lifestyles. The 140-square-metre Los Angeles boutique, for example, reflects Southern California’s laid-back charm. Here, Japanese designer Haruka Imai worked within the existing industrial structure, keeping the rough textures and adding solid wood to create a welcoming and relaxed atmosphere. ‘Natural light pours in through the large windows, the high ceiling creates a feeling of airiness, and the plants and greenery in the lounge area creates a relaxing environment,’ says Takemoto of the store, which is also a showroom and office. LA-based botanical design studio kkot was called upon to incorporate flora throughout the space, creating a lively and fresh feel.

‘In the development of each one of our products, we value tatazumai, which is a Japanese word that means the appearance and manner of an object in relation to its surroundings,’ explains Takemoto. ‘It captures an element of Japanese culture where we often think about objects as being part of a larger scene and atmosphere. We also celebrate subtly varying expressions among different pieces as their charm and beauty.’ Made of glass, porcelain, stainless steel, and wood, KINTO’s creations all combine beauty and function in the simplest yet most elegant way. 

Text / Karine Monié
Images / Courtesy of KINTO