Ritzwell Shop & Atelier: Experience Pure Japanese Craftsmanship in the Heart of Omotesando

Ritzwell’s Made in Japan furniture is highly sought after by prestigious luxury hotels across Japan, and embraced by discerning interior enthusiasts. Their production process can now be observed up close at their shop & atelier in Omotesando.

Photo by Nacása & Partners

Ritzwell is a furniture manufacturer founded in Fukuoka in 1992, recognized globally for its “Made in Japan” products. Since its establishment, it has garnered numerous prestigious design awards such as the German iF Design Award, the Red Dot Award, and the Chicago Good Design Award. With a proven track record of supplying furniture to luxury hotels both domestically and internationally, as well as residences of discerning individuals, Ritzwell has earned widespread acclaim. In 2023, its furniture was even selected for the interiors of renowned hotels like Bulgari Hotel Tokyo and The Ritz-Carlton Fukuoka.

You can get a firsthand look at Ritzwell’s furniture-making process at their Ritzwell Omotesando Shop & Atelier, conveniently situated on the first floor of the Nono Aoyama complex, just a short 6-minute walk from Tokyo Metro Omotesando Station. Inside the shop, an atelier has been set up where craftsmen regularly showcase their production process. The atelier, positioned prominently at the shop’s entrance, resembles an open kitchen in a restaurant, providing a glimpse of craftsmen deeply immersed in their work. Operating for two weeks in February— from February 4th to 12th and from February 18th to 24th—(closed on Wednesdays), it’s an opportunity not to be missed.

An atelier is attached to the shop where all original Ritzwell furniture is exhibited.

The primary production carried out here includes cutting and sewing leather or fabric for chair upholstery, as well as upholstering of the chairs. What sets this place apart is that it’s not just a showcase; it’s where the actual furniture that will be sold is made. While there are workshops and ateliers in Tokyo that showcase craftsmen’s work, they’re mostly located in the suburbs. This place offers a rare opportunity to witness the craftsmen’s dedication and skill up close, right in the heart of Omotesando.

Many people visit by chance and end up taking their time to explore.

The craftsmen are approachable and happy to answer visitors’ questions. Some visitors are also those who have made a purchase and come to see the production of the furniture that will make its way to their homes. During my visit, I spoke with Reo Nagao, one of the craftsmen belonging to the group of about ten. Nagao mainly works with a leather material called “厚革” (Atsu Kawa), which translates to “thick leather.”

Reo Nagao, the craftsman

First, I was shown how the production process unfolds. The leather, temporarily secured to accommodate the subtle curve of the chair’s backrest, initially exhibits wrinkles and creases. However, as Nagao carefully pulls and fastens the leather while monitoring its condition, the surface gradually smoothens, snugly enveloping the plush cushion.

With a delicate sense of touch, they shape the flat leather into three-dimensional form.

“To upholster flat leather onto three-dimensional curves is inherently a challenging process,” explains Nagao. “By making incisions at appropriate places, we can ensure balance, and then gradually stretch and pull the leather to fit.”

Nagao and other craftsmen usually work at the Itoshima Seaside Factory in Itoshima, Fukuoka Prefecture. The small coastal city known for its beaches, mountains, relaxed pace, and tranquility has been gaining popularity nationwide as a desirable area for relocation.

The Itoshima Seaside Factory, completed in 2019.

“Before, we were prototyping and producing in a corner of an office in Fukuoka city, so when this factory was built, I was completely astonished. After all, it’s right by the sea, in a truly pleasant environment. Although you can’t see the sea from the first floor due to the windbreak forest, from the break room located in the most scenic spot, you can get a sweeping view of the ocean,” explained Nagao regarding the factory’s initial opening.

The view from the break room of the Itoshima Factory.

About 4 to 5 craftsmen out of the approximately 10 who work at the Itoshima Seaside Factory rotate to the atelier in Omotesando once every 1 to 2 months, staying for one week at a time.

Nagao explained how the rotations work “During the week they spend at the Omotesando atelier, Wednesdays are their designated day off. On these days, they often visit Shinkiba or Asakusabashi to check out tools and materials, or explore museums and art galleries. While they typically work in the serene environment of Itoshima, they cherish the occasional opportunity to work in the bustling city center. They’d say there’s no better job than this.”

Made in Japan furniture, crafted with dedication and created from a fulfilling lifestyle, has been steadily gaining attention. Its prominence at the world’s leading furniture trade fair, the Salone Del Mobile in Milan, where it has been exhibited since 2008, has also grown considerably. Last year, when craftsmen demonstrated at the exhibition hall, press from around the world fervently shared the scene on social media.

The chair Nagao was working on in the studio, called “Marcel”.

“While we’re not employing any particularly uncommon techniques, it appears that there’s a great appreciation for our meticulous approach to crafting items like regular dining chairs and other items which are typically mass-produced.” commented Nagao on their approach, which has resonated with many.

Ritzwell’s furniture-making embodies a unique aesthetic across its products, shops, studios, factories, and even the craftsmen’s uniforms. Take advantage of this unique opportunity to witness the production process and design ethos, and experience the craftsmanship firsthand.

Ritzwell Omotesando Shop & Atelier
Address: 1F, Nonoaoyama, 3-4-3 Kitaaoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Business Hours: 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM
Closed on Wednesdays
Website: https://www.ritzwell.com/en/
Atelier & Craftsman Operating Days: February 18th (Sat) to February 24th (Sun) 
*Closed on Wednesdays
*The event will occur irregularly after March. Check their Instagram for updates.
Instagram @ritzwell_official


Naoko Ando

Natsu Ando has been involved in editing for men's, women's, and lifestyle magazines. Since 2010, she has worked independently as a freelance editor and writer, primarily focusing on art, travel, interior design, and architecture.