An innovator who undertakes planning, design, and operations in the field of architecture.
The launch of something new stokes excitement.
Based on the concept of “a hotel where guests can experience MUJI's philosophy,” MUJI HOTEL GINZA will open its doors at Ginza 3-chome in the spring of 2019. After the MUJI HOTELs in Shenzhen and Beijing, which boast high occupancy rates, this will be the world’s third MUJI HOTEL. MUJI fans or not, there are many people waiting for the opening of the first hotel in Japan bearing the “MUJI” name. The opening of something new, whether a MUJI HOTEL or not, stokes excitement. It isn’t just about being able to step into a new building or space for the first time. More than that, it stokes expectations for a new beginning and being able to experience something new.
The MUJI HOTEL BEIJING, KidZania Tokyo, and Hotel Kanra Kyoto were all designed and created by UDS Ltd. The company's strength is not limited to design, but it consistently handles projects from start to finish, from the planning phase to day-to-day operations. This innovative approach was established by Fumio Kajiwara, the company's founder who is active on the front line of the industry. Let's delve into the origins of this architect who uses “systematization” to continually breathe new life into communities.
“It’s all good if you can achieve results doing what you want to do.” Thus encouraged by a doctor, he decided to further his education at university.
When Kajiwara was in middle school, famine in Africa drew increasing attention and was a social issue that people talked about. Watching the news, he thought of becoming a doctor to help children, so he participated in a seminar held by a group organizing refugee relief work. There, he received words of wisdom that remain with him to this day. He explains, “After the talk, I told the lecturer, who was a doctor, that I wanted to be a doctor who would work for Africa. He told me he had a nice article for me, which he later sent to my home. The article was about an American who started a business and then donated the money he made in the United States to save children in need all over the world. The letter accompanying the article said, 'There are many ways to achieve your desired result. You don't have to be a doctor. It’s all good if you can achieve results doing what you love.” With those words, I decided to help children by doing what I want to do.” Delving into what he'd enjoyed since childhood and with the desire to do work he enjoyed, he immediately considered opening an interior design store. He gathered information from real estate agents about vacant stores in Shibuya, a meeting-point of various cultural strands; but he gave up because it was too difficult for a high-schooler. He then decided to acquire the organization-building skills necessary for starting a business by furthering his education at university.
A warm welcome at the Tohoku University Rowing Club training camp motivated him to go to Tohoku University.
Kajiwara decided that learning organization-building skills was his top priority. The place he chose to do that was the university sports club. As a member of his school's volleyball club up until high school, he looked into universities all around Japan with formidable sports clubs. He says, “When I was a high school senior, I had the chance to visit the training camp of Tohoku University's Rowing Club. It was casual – I went alone, hoping to hear a bit about their club, but all of the members were passionate. They spoke ardently about their approach to teamwork and practice, their strengths, and ways of beating elite clubs from other universities.” Moved by such a warm welcome, he decided to become a member of the Tohoku University Rowing Club. After studying intensely, he passed the entrance exam of the Architecture Department of the university's School of Engineering, which he had been interested in from the start. After joining the department, his home base became the rowing club's training camp, which was in Natori City at the time. Waking up at 5:00 am, he had morning practice, after which he cycled more than an hour to get to the Architecture Department campus. After classes, he would go back to the training camp for more practice, eat dinner, then go to bed, doing the same thing all over again the next day. He says, “We couldn't beat other universities through willpower alone. We had to develop tactics, carry them out, share in the results, and come up with further strategies. It was a club where each member thought about things autonomously, which was rare for a sports club at the time.” He spent four years participating in various competitions, but the one that was especially memorable was the qualifying competition for the Seoul Olympics.
Born in Tokyo. In 1985, he entered the Architecture Department of the School of Engineering at Tohoku University. After working for a major real estate company from 1989, he established Urban Design System Co. in 1992, which was renamed Urban Design System Co. Ltd in 1994 and UDS Ltd. in 2012. Currently, he trains staff and works on expanding new projects in his capacity as Chairman. He also lectures part-time at the Graduate School of Engineering at Tohoku University.