Kengo Kuma and Commune Design team up on the new Ace Hotel Kyoto

Nippon Nights

With the 2020 Tokyo Olympics fast approaching, the world’s eyes are turning to Japan. However, focus on this densely-populated country’s creative output is nothing new. For the past decade, leading Japanese talents, brands, and institutions have had a significant impact on the global art, architecture, and design scenes. This summer’s event marks a pivotal moment in this cultural progression.

An eclectic mix of materials, patterns, and finishes establishes a laid-back yet refined aesthetic that is indicative of both the Ace Hotel’s own aesthetic and Japanese tradition.

To mark the occasion, boutique chain Ace Hotel has opened a new Kyoto outpost. Designed by seminal architect Kengo Kuma—who is also heading up the design of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Stadium—and award-winning Los Angeles-based practice Commune Design, the property is set to become a new hub for Japan’s historic cultural capital.  A bustling lobby, verdant courtyard, art gallery, and events space will complement an array of guest rooms, and will also stand independently as gathering spaces for the wider community.

Wood paneling visually anchors a number of suites.

(Stephen Kent Johnson)

True to the trendy hotel chain’s brand, the design of this latest outpost incorporates a warm, laid-back, albeit refined, aesthetic. Carefully crafted details play a starring role as Ace’s eclectic and luxurious aesthetic joins local traditions.

This new venue targets an upwardly mobile creative class, but its evocative scheme pays homage to the city’s history. A portion of the 213-room hotel repurposes the historic Kyoto Central Telephone Company building, designed by modernist architect Tetsuro Yoshida in 1926.

Staying true to Kyoto’s historic role as Japan’s cultural capital, the hotel’s rooms feature a number of musical instruments and devices.

(Stephen Kent Johnson)

In most suites, wood paneling brings together compact vanities, lounges, and built-in desks. A clever distribution of geometric forms helps anchor the hotel’s understated decor. In one guestroom, the profile of an adjoining roofline is articulated in a multi-angle trim that delineates a two-tone wall and creates the illusion of a sloped ceiling. The simple but bold intervention serves as the perfect backdrop for an intimate bed area.

Roll-down mesh textile dividers help break up spaces while vintage floral patterns carry through from sofa cushions to drapery. Muted grays, blues, and purples accentuate white walls and set the tone for the placement of musical instruments, records, and turntables. A number of suites feature soaking tubs, built-in window seats, and private garden-view balconies.