Hands On

Simon Jones Studio has designed and crafted a timber showroom for a Japanese import business


Simon Jones Studio has completed a timber showroom and workspace for Wiltshire-based Japanese tool importer and supplier Niwaki. The single-storey structure makes extensive use of vertical grain Douglas fir and unfinished tongue-and-groove chipboard as a European nod to traditional Japanese joinery and mud-plastered walls.


Located beneath a corrugated roof in the corner of Niwaki’s warehouse, the scheme comprises a public showroom, two small offices, and associated staff facilities. It is a separated from the stock area by a 3.2-metre-high wall topped with a sloping translucent polycarbonate surface. Internally, the wall is braced at high level by deep yet slender chipboard beams that lower the apparent height of the space and temper the visual presence of the warehouse roof. The walls are clad with tongue-and-groove chipboard sheets, whose hidden fixings lend an unusual, matt finish and seamless quality to the surfaces. Vertical grain Douglas fir is used for all the joinery, from tall skirting boards to tables, shelves and showroom display furniture.


Gardening and woodwork tools, together with a range of kitchen knives are arranged across a large central surface composed of shallow trays. These were developed from a modular display system, also designed by the architect, for Niwaki’s 2015 trade exhibition presentations. On the walls, a system of removable sliding panels display products hung on bent metal hooks, or on Douglas fir shelves against felt backgrounds. The felt acts as a self-healing surface for changing hook arrangements, and softens room’s acoustics. The system is extended into the office spaces in the form of pin boards and display panels.

Conceived as a simple sequence of spaces, the showroom and offices are linked directly to the warehouse stock area. Separating the showroom and first office are a pair of sliding windows. These are decorated with a blossom-like pattern of overlapping dots, designed to moderate the visual connection between the public and administrative areas.

Simon Jones Studio was commissioned to design the showroom after it had completed a temporary exhibition system for the same client. Like that display system, the components of the showroom – office furniture, shelving, and sliding glazed screens – were all designed and built by Simon Jones Studio in its London workshop.

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