‘in flakes’, The Reflective Design Benches

These unique benches reflect the natural splendour of all the seasons in the quiet town of Towada city in Aomori Prefecture.



Towada city, located in Aomori Prefecture, has a climate characterised by cool spring-summer seasons and even colder winters, with heavy snowfall. Surrounded by mountains to the west and two major rivers, the natural landscape is the area’s greatest attraction.

Following the inauguration of the Towada Art Center in 2008, Mount Fuji Architects Studio designed a set of benches named in flakes in 2010, with mirrored surfaces to reflect the natural splendor surrounding the site. While the cherry blossom season runs only from April to mid May, snow swirls through the skies from December to as late as April, prior to which there is an equally thrilling stint of golden leaves on the trees.


Floating through the cherry trees

Mount Fuji Architects Studio’s benches — made from stainless steel, the surfaces so highly polished they look like mirrors — enhance these dramatic seasonal changes. When the 150 cherry trees blossom in spring and carpet the city in a bed of pink petals, the seats allow those sitting on them to feel as though they are floating among the trees.

Each bench features two or more stainless steel units folded into seats and joined together, their composition echoing the snowflakes of winter. ‘Snowflakes in winter, cherry blossoms in spring, rays of sunlight in summer, falling leaves in autumn, and artworks dotted around the city— there is always something dancing in the city’s clear air,’ says Harada Masahiro of Mount Fuji Architects Studio in a statement.

Inside Towada Art Center’s small museum, a permanent collection of artworks is held, featuring 38 works by 33 artists, including Yoko Ono, Yayoi Kusama, Choi Jeong Hwa, Ron Muek, and of course Mount Fuji Architects Studio. While the design studio — created in 2004 by Harada Masahiro and Harada Mao — might be best known in Towada for its modern and innovative product design, it is highly acclaimed for its architectural projects, working in urban design and creating housing and cultural spaces in cities and in disaster zones. The studio is also the name behind Tokyo’s infamous Trunk Hotel.


in flakes (2010), a work by Mount Fuji Architects Studio for the Towada Art Center.

Towada Art Center