10 Things You Didn’t Know About Masamichi Katayama

Are you a fan of creative interior design and groundbreaking architectural concepts? If so, you must have heard of Masamichi Katayama, one of the most creative and innovative designers who is leading the way in modern architectural design. In this post, we delve into the life and career of Katayama, uncovering ten interesting things that you probably didn’t know about him.

1. Masamichi Katayama was a self-taught designer.

Undoubtedly, one of the most surprising details about Katayama is that he is primarily self-taught. Despite not holding any formal design degree, Katayama’s unique aesthetics and clever utilization of space have made him a top-tier designer in the world of contemporary design. His journey into design began with simple curiosity and the sheer will to learn new things. His determination to educate himself enabled him to excel to heights that many formally trained individuals have not reached.

Moreover, his talent truly shone when he took up the mantle of redesigning stores for multiple big brands including Uniqlo and Nike, where he managed to leave his unique, innovative mark. His work speaks volumes, showing that self-taught skills can often rival, if not surpass, formal education in the design field.

2. He is the founder of Wonderwall, a top-tier interior design firm.

In 2000, Katayama founded Wonderwall, an interior design firm based in Tokyo. The firm rapidly emerged to become one of the leading interior design firms globally, building a reputation for implementing disruptive designs that transform spaces into unique and artistic environments. They work with a broad range of clientele, including retail stores, restaurants, and offices, turning every project into a mesmerizing piece of art.

Wonderwall’s success can be distinctly attributed to Katayama’s creative mind and his unique design orientation. His insistence on breaking traditional design norms while valuing client’s needs and his attention to detail have made Wonderwall a pioneer in the world of design.

3. Katayama believes the essence of design is about creating happiness.

Katayama’s philosophy to design has always been about creating happiness. He believes the ultimate purpose of design is to generate joy, both for the people who experience the design and those who create it. This philosophy became the cornerstone of his design approach and the guiding principle of his firm. Whether it is a retail store, a restaurant, or an office, his designs always aim to spark joy and positivity.

His fundamental belief in creating joyful spaces has led him to design environments that are not just functional or visually pleasing but also emotionally rewarding. It is this unique design orientation that has truly set him apart in the crowded field of design.

4. His groundbreaking flagship store design for Uniqlo took the world by storm.

Perhaps one of Katayama’s most well-known projects is the flagship store of Uniqlo in Tokyo’s Ginza district. When he was commissioned to design this store in 2012, Katayama completely revolutionized the standard concept of retail space. His use of dynamic visuals, inventive light fixtures, and a unique display layout made this store a global sensation and a sought-out visiting spot in Tokyo.

This project exemplifies Katayama’s design philosophy – one that is not afraid to break the modern norms and create a unique immersive experience. The store is not just a retail space but an art gallery and a testament to Katayama’s genius.

5. His unique style is referred to as ‘Katayama-ism’.

Such is the influence and uniqueness of his design style that it has its own term – ‘Katayama-ism’. The term was coined to describe Katayama’s groundbreaking approach to design that marries functionality and aesthetics with a zest of playfulness. Katayama-ism symbolizes the designer’s belief that retail environments can be more than just commercial spaces; they can be joyful, immersive, and creative canvases that engage the senses.

Infused with colorful chaos, Katayama’s works are a visual feast, showcasing his knack for designing not just spaces but experiences. From chaotic graphics to fearless colors to thoughtful space utilization, Katayama-ism is about making bold design decisions that captivate and delight.

6. Masamichi Katayama has a fondness for antiques.

Beyond his passion for design, Katayama also has a love for antiques. He uses interesting ways to incorporate classic pieces into his designs. These furnishing elements add a touch of historical charm and sophistication to his contemporarily designed spaces. And it’s not just antique furniture – Katayama commonly uses a variety of vintage items, from toys to signage, all adding an extra layer to his designs.

By integrating antiques into his spaces, Katayama manages to strike a perfect balance between traditional and modern aesthetics. This adds a layer of depth to his designs and elevates the overall visual appeal of the spaces.

7. He collaborated with KAWS for ‘The New Order’ exhibition.

In 2019, Katayama collaborated with renowned New York-based artist Brian Donnelly, popularly known as KAWS, for ‘The New Order: Art and Fashion in the 21st Century’ exhibition in Tokyo. For this event, Katayama designed a thematic exhibition featuring over 150 contemporary artworks alongside fashion pieces.

The exhibition, held at the Bon Marché Rive Gauche in Paris, was a fascinating and colorful showcase of modern pop culture, blending art and fashion in a truly unique way. Katayama’s design enhanced the overall display, turning the exhibition into an eye-catching, immersive experience.

8. He won the Mainichi Design Award.

In 2008, Katayama’s exceptional design skill was recognized when he won the prestigious Mainichi Design Award. First awarded in 1954, the Mainichi Design Awards are one of Japan’s most highly acknowledged award programs, recognizing innovative and original projects across different design fields.

The award underlined Katayama’s remarkable ability to think outside traditional design norms and his passion for creating innovative and exciting designs. The recognition further cemented his position as one of the leading figures in contemporary interior design.

9. His work has emboldened emerging designers.

Katayama’s work has been a source of inspiration for many up-and-coming designers. His approach of breaking traditional boundaries and focusing on creating immersive, fun environments has inspired contemporary designers to think beyond functionality. Many young designers aspire to mirror his unique style, innovative strategies, and his consistent commitment to originality in their own work.

His legacy has thus become far-reaching, as he has inspired a new generation of designers to think bigger, be bolder, and innovate in unprecedented ways. His work continues to push the boundaries, making the world of design ever-evolving and exciting.

10. He believes in the motto ‘No Concept, No Fun.’.

If there is a phrase that aptly captures Katayama’s approach to design, it’s ‘No Concept, No Fun.’ This motto reveals his belief that design should always be rooted in a strong, exciting concept. Creating unique, engaging atmospheres demands conceptual thinking, and for Katayama, the process of conceptualizing a design is just as crucial as the design’s execution.

For him, a concept is the guiding light directing where a project will go and how it will affect those who interact with it. This motto touches every aspect of his work, thereby ensuring that every project he undertakes remains unique, entertaining, and impactful.


Masamichi Katayama remains a significant figure in the world of interior design, consistently introducing innovative concepts and challenging traditional design norms. His journey is a testament to the power of self-belief, passion, and the pursuit of happiness through design. As a source of inspiration for many, Katayama’s influence has changed the landscape of contemporary design.

Visit Wonderwall for more information about Katayama’s work.
Explore artist KAWS here.
Check out Uniqlo’s flagship store in Ginza.