You probably wouldn’t guess by looking at it that this glass-and-wood retreat topped with a geodesic dome in the remote Chichibu mountains of Japan got its initial inspiration from a Phish concert in Maine. Tokyo-based outdoor clothing and gear designer Setsumasa Kobayashi attended a jam band festival at a campground along with some 60,000 other attendees and walked away with a vision for a sustainable getaway removed from the bustle of the city, where he could test out the products he creates.
The result is a set of two dark-stained timber structures on an oversized wooden deck, each with a flat, habitable roof. Topping the larger volume is a geodesic dome for lounging, sleeping and stargazing. While the buildings were in progress, Kobayashi used the large wooden platform as a base for a North Face tent, experimenting with the idea of camping as a longer-term lifestyle rather than just an overnight or weekend experience.
Everything about the retreat aims to incorporate a sense of adventure. All meals are served in camping gear, there’s a climbing wall in the living room, and guests can take baths or showers on the roof. Solar panels supply daytime electricity, and chopped firewood is stored beneath the deck.
The architect finds the ‘inconvenience’ of remote living, away from the comforts and conveniences of the city, as the foundation of a different sort of life. While he might have to boil his hot water on top of a wood stove, cut firewood himself and use oil lamps after dark, Kobayashi believes there’s wisdom to be gained from carrying out these manual tasks.
About Setsumasa Kobayashi
“Both the founder and designer of Mountain Research, Setsumasa Kobayashi began his first line, General Research in 1994, later changing the name to Mountain Research in 2006. Despite having no formal education in fashion, Kobayashi approaches design with the dedicated and in-depth approach of an academic and has built a vibrant career, spanning more than 25 years in both footwear and clothing. Delving deep into the minutia of every item he creates, Kobayashi finds a way to meld disparate elements, ranging from the outdoors and military clothing to anarchism, motorcycles and literature, creating his own distinct universe. With a highly conceptual lens on fashion, it’s hard to imagine that a Phish concert in the woods was the catalyst for Mountain Research.”