Interview with Kenji Muro, General Manager & Design Director of GARDE CO., LTD., Japan

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Kenji Muro

As Design Director of GARDE, Kenji's creative talents allow him to design practical and great large-scale commercial and hospitality facilities.

Interview with the 2020 MUSE Design Awards Winner - Kenji Muro

1Please give us a brief bio of yourself and your background.

Kenji Muro has many achievements in China, Southeast Asia and Japan, mainly in the design of large-scale commercial facilities and hospitality (hotel) facilities. Large-scale commercial facilities and hotels also place emphasis on the project market evaluation, profit contribution, and real estate value improvement by consistently conducts everything from market research to business format development, and from planning proposals for launching a new brand business to design.

Representative works: Hanguang Department Store (Beijing), Shangri-La Dalian, Cerulean Hotel Tokyu, Joy Breeze in Suzhou, etc.

2What made you become/why did you choose to become a designer/artist?

I was interested in spatial design, and majored in a specialized course at university. I was also interested in set design, but I felt that the interior design, especially large-scale commercial facilities and hotels, was very rewarding in terms of contributing to society and achieving customer satisfaction.

3Tell us more about your business/company, job profile, and what you do.

GARDE consists of four major divisions:

1) Luxury brands’ Design and Construction Division

2) Overseas Large-scale commercial and Hospitality Division

3) Office Design Division

4) Planning and development and Real estate division

We have offices in major cities in the world (Milan, Paris, Dubai, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, New York and Los Angeles), and by connecting networks, we not only design the services provided to each customer, but also provide consulting services (real estate brokerage, market research, business format development and branding) from the base of projects to maximize customer satisfaction.

4What does “design” mean to you?

For me, “DESIGN” means providing new values to the market and customers.

5What’s your favorite kind of design and why?

Minimal design with lean sophistication attracts me. I feel that the place with the spatial representation of the world view of Wabi and Sabi (beauty within simplicity and imperfection) is the ultimate beautiful space.

6To you, what makes a “good” design?

The cooperation with clients, and the pursuit of market value and originality.

7Describe your design style and its main characteristics.

I have no “design style”. I place more importance in creating a space that can withstand the changes of the times and improve with age.

8Tell us about your design process.

Do you think your country and its cultural heritage has an impact on your design process? I always start the design by grasping what is more than the client, market expectations and market needs.

9Do you think your country and its cultural heritage has an impact on your design process?

Yes. It influences me deeply.

10Congratulations! As the winner of the 2020 MUSE Design Awards, what does it mean to you and your company and team to receive this award distinction?

It motivates me for my next work.

11Can you explain a bit about the winning work you entered into the 2020 MUSE Design Awards, and why you chose to enter this project?

We chose this project because we felt that we were able to provide highly complete design as a new hotel brand creation.

12What was the biggest challenge with this project?

The biggest challenge of this project is to let the developer who is new to hotel development and operating traditional hotels to understand that we will pursue and create a brand new hotel and the direction of the design.

13How has winning an Award developed your practice/career?

Winning this award will increase my confidence and boost the order for the next project.

14What are your top three (3) favorite things about our industry?

1) Connecting with others

2) Understanding the cultures and human values of different countries

3) Seeing people’s reactions and listening to evaluations when the projecy get completed

15What makes your country specifically unique in the design industry?

I think that always be aware of tradition and innovation, and value the Japanese identity is the most important reason.

16Where do you see the evolution of design industry going over the next 5-10 years?

After-corona will greatly change our lifestyles and work styles, so it is necessary to quickly identify such changes and consider how designers can contribute to society and the market.

17If you were a student entering this industry or an aspiring MUSE Design Awards submitter, what advice would you give them?

I hope they can be bound by nothing, pursuing emotional values and creating freely, then have a spirit that never gives up is important.

18What resources would you recommend to someone who wants to improve their skills in the design industry?

Put yourself in a real space and create many opportunities to feel confident. It is easy to collect the information by photos, but you can’t improve your sensibility from this method. Please remember the experiencing is important, and be interested in design other than what you are involved in.

19Who has inspired you in your life and why?

Taro Okamoto, my professor at university. He taught me that what is art? what is attracting people? what is impressing people? thinking something is the origin of creation.

20What is your key to success? Any parting words of wisdom?

Try your best to maximize customer satisfaction.

Winning Entries

THE DRAPE | 2020

Takami Bridal aims to add value to the bridal scene with the new concept of THE DRAPE, a contemporary wedding store that balances high degrees of...
(read more at MUSE Design Awards)

PLACE171 | 2020

PLACE171 started off as an office extension project for Dolphins co., a real estate consulting company. This project aims to provide a space...
(read more at MUSE Design Awards)

The Royal Park Canvas - Ginza 8 | 2020

GARDE has worked on the design of the hotel public space of "The Royal Park Canvas - Ginza 8", a new brand of Royal Park Hotels, which opened...
(read more at MUSE Design Awards)



GARDE, as a branding design company, designs space in various fields such as retail, offices, residences, hospitalities, F&B and large-scale commercial facilities.

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