The perfect closet-sized kitchens for urban living

Sanwa is a Japanese company that aims to challenge our preconceived notions about the “creation” of style, or スタイルの創造というテーマに挑みます. They design and sell most anything and everything related to the realm of home interior and exterior. Their website is a refreshingly navigable catalog, although slightly intimidating in its array of products (storage units, countertops, decks, chairs, mirrors, doors, bathrooms, flooring, sinks, tiling). In the past year or so, Sanwa has dedicated itself to pushing the limits of kitchen design.

These sliding glass doors recently won Sanwa the Good Design Award

In 2018 Sanwa collaborated with Italian design team Bestetti Associati to create a series of compact kitchens. The EuroCucina biennial is a kitchen furniture exhibition, showcasing emerging design and technological innovation on an international stage. For its 22nd iteration, Sanwa and the designers at Bestetti put their creative brains to the task of producing spaces that harness the “impact of compact.”

One of the most striking inventions to emerge from the collaboration is the Ceragino. The ne plus ultra of compact kitchens is a self-standing square unit with two burners and a sink. Sleek in shape and rustic in tone, the Ceragino represents a marriage between “Italian tile-making techniques and Japanese craftsmanship.” With the compact kitchen project, Sanwa’s designers and their Milanese counterparts aimed to tackle directly the problem of increasingly tiny living situations resulting from the swelling populations in urban areas around the globe. The epitome of function, utility, and elegance, the Ceragino is a veritable armoire of requirement, furnished with the basic tools of an amateur chef.

Sanwa compact kitchen Ceragino

Also of note is the QB 01, a kitchen disguised as a small grey box. Within this tiny cube, there’s a cutting board, fridge, sink, and burner. Yet the domestic reality of meal prep (the actual function of the QB 01) is mostly hidden by a few convenient panels – not unlike the way in which fusuma and shoji (panels and screens) can be used to obscure and redefine sections of a Japanese home. Positioned on four small wheels, this cube is also highly portable.

Sanwa compact kitchen QB 01

This year Sanwa chose to work with Karimoku New Standard to fashion a wood-focused, modernist kitchen unit. KNS was founded by the furniture manufacturer Karimoku, a company with humble beginnings in timber and woodworking. From 1940 onward, they’ve remained committed to natural processes, making furniture only from the highest quality wood.

Collaboration between Sanwa and Karimoku New Standard

Designed by German industrial designer Christian Haas, the CH 01 is one of Sanwa’s most ambitious projects yet. This kitchen unites the functionality of a compact kitchen unit with the elegance of traditional Japanese woodworking. The design evokes the fragility of fusuma and shoji, but the wood (Japanese oak) is coated with a substance that ensures its durability and protection against moisture.

With the CH 01, Sanwa shows no indication of halting its explorations into boundary-breaking products and design. Not content to remain a mere interior design emporium, the company’s endeavors are examples of craftsmanship for a new millennium.