Talking Design with YU Kiroro's… | Yu Kiroro Hokkaido Ski Resort Hotel

Talking Design with YU Kiroro’s Interior Designer

Warm, architectural, touched with alpine style throughout, YU Kiroro boasts a truly breathtaking interior design.


We caught up with Ohkawa Yuichiro, Interior Designer from the world-renowned ILYA Corporation, the brains behind the beauty of the YU Kiroro design. 


Ohkawa san, thank you for your time. Tell me about your background and previous interior design projects. 

OY: Thank you, I have been working at ILYA since 2007, specializing mainly in hotel design. Some of my notable projects include the Kyu-Karuizawa KIKYO Curio Collection by Hilton, and the lobby redesign and renovation at The Kiroro, A Tribute Portfolio Hotel. That was my first experience in Kiroro. I’ve also designed many hotel banquet halls, restaurants and high class teppanyaki restaurants in Ginza, Tokyo. And have been responsible for environmental design for commercial facilities in China. 


So you have experience in Kiroro, to what extent does alpine design in a place like this differ from regular hotel design?

OY: Kiroro is a ski resort, and while it is an all-year-round destination, winter is the main season. So to create a design which is in harmony with all of the seasons is the most interesting and most difficult part of any alpine design project. 


Where do you start on a project like this? 

OY: Firstly, I work closely with the property developer, Property Perfect, to understand their objectives and stylistic preferences. As one of Thailand’s best developers, they have a keen eye for luxury hotel design so it was a great collaboration. Next, I experience what a great ski resort is like from a user’s perspective. So our design team traveled to Niseko and to Colorado to experience and study flow lines for planning. To know from a skiers point of view and to simply understand what route customers take from their room to go skiing. By doing this, I gathered all the information I needed to create a ski-in ski-out condominium that is functional and flows efficiently. The other main consideration is that I have to take measures to protect the building from heavy snow.


Is there a ‘theme’ which runs through the design? 

OY: Yes, ‘All of Kiroro is yours’ was our guiding theme. All facilities, furniture and design touches are based on this theme to provide our guests with a relaxing and comfortable environment throughout the complex, and to feel like they truly own the space and own their Kiroro experience. When people visit YU Kiroro, it is just like they are back to their own homes. A big smile is what we expect from our guests!


Where did you take insipration from? 

OY: I took inspiration from the Hokkaido alpine. My first impressions when I visited Kiroro are prevalant now in the end product. The stone, the forest, the wildlife, Japanese craftsmanship – these are things you immediately notice when you arrive in Kiroro and I’ve presented these elements in my design, interspersing them throughout the building. I sincerely hope our guests enjoy the treasured nature of Hokkaido in our most natural and relaxing Japanese-style design. 


The geometric clouds in the hotel lobby are one of it’s most striking features. What was the inspiration behind these?

OY: The geometric clouds, combined with the lighting in the lobby, can be considered a symbol for what YU Kiroro means – freedom and ease. In fact the entire lobby space is a reflection of the local environment. YU Kiroro is located in a valley surrounded by mountains. The large glass walls can be referred to as the mountain. In the lobby, you can feel a gentle wind blowing between the two clay walls, both of which carry the wavy appearance of snow and sand. These walls were created using the ancient Japanese plasterwork craft of ‘Sakan’, which uses only natural materials including earth and plant fiber. The lighting is an original design which illustrates the shape of the clouds in a modern and abstract way. 



Are the guest rooms and common areas conceived together as one?

OY: Yes, both carry elements of alpine design. In common areas, we used materials such as rough wood, masonry stone and ‘sakan’ clay features. In the guestrooms, textures are softer and more delicate, so that our guests can relax as if in their own home. The textures of each area gradually change so that a sudden departure from the overall theme is always avoided. The result is an integrated design. 


What is your favourite part of the design? 

OY: I like it all! However, if I had to choose one, it would be the Yukashi restaurant ceiling. The unbalanced design of the interlaced wooden louver ceiling is a symbolic extension of the mountains outside the window. I wish to bring the mountain view and the freshness of the outdoors into the restaurant, and the ceiling does this well. 


Thank you, Ohkawa san.