Lucas B.B., CEO of Knee High Media
Lucas B.B. has made a genuine Japanese house in Tokyo his home base for life and work for many years. As a creator of travel-themed lifestyle magazines and events, his abundant experiences through his work are uniquely reflected in the interior design of his space.
The day after graduating from the University of California, he departed on a journey to Japan with a single backpack. That was in 1993, and it was his first trip abroad. He did not anticipate it at the time, but Lucas would begin working in Japan and establish Knee High Media Japan three years later. While founding and editing the magazines TOKION, PAPERSKY, and mammoth, he managed numerous events and product development projects. PAPERSKY, a magazine focused on travel and lifestyle, will soon celebrate its 20-year anniversary since its first publication.
“I was 23 years old when I started TOKION and was creating a magazine for young people. But as I approached 30, the age gap grew greater. As I was trying to figure out what to do, the idea for a travel-themed magazine came to mind. Travel has no age limits. My work and life are meshed together (laughs).”
Due to the pandemic, PAPERSKY continues feature articles focused on Japan. However, originally, Lucas and other members of the editorial department would travel to various destinations around the world and offer the latest information from their unique perspective and through a new approach. For Lucas, who has had many valuable experiences in various countries, Switzerland is particularly one of his favorites. For example, in the 2017 Swiss special feature, landscape paintings by artists from this country are featured as motifs in the magazine page layout. It was good content that cleverly conveyed the abundance of art, nature, and culture.
“All Swiss landscapes are beautiful, so I thought that there must be many artists who have painted them. So, I did some research. For me, the fascination with Switzerland is that everyone understands and values the importance of nature and culture. It’s not just nature, nor just culture, but there is a good balance of both,” says Lucas. For things used in daily life, the choice is not “cheap is good” or “expensive is good,” but they are selected by the balance of value and quality. He feels that this is a national trait of the Swiss.
Lucas lives in a 90-year-old Japanese house. More than two decades have passed since he began renting it as a workspace and 12 years since it has doubled as a residence. Currently, the first floor is a garden and an office for Knee High Media, and the second floor has a dining room, kitchen and a Japanese tatami room. However, meetings are sometimes held at the dining table and meals are sometimes enjoyed on the first-floor veranda. There is a persimmon and other trees and plants as well as a small pond in the garden. He is fond of the genuine Japanese architecture that also has a unique western twist to it and somehow blends these two aesthetics together to be quite modern.
“It feels good to be anywhere in a house that has a nice blend of Western and Japanese styles. I’m American and my wife (Kaori, also a colleague) is Japanese, so even the residents are Western and Japanese (laughs).”
The USM Haller design made in Switzerland mysteriously fits the Japanese space composed of horizontal and vertical lines. Displayed on top of them are various crafts, household items, and art pieces acquired from travels around Japan as well as around the world. A painting of the Swiss mountains hangs in an alcove. Each piece is filled with memories or emotional attachments.
“I learned about USM Haller over a decade ago when we introduced the Swiss factory in an article for PAPERSKY. Following that, I had an opportunity to visit the showroom in Japan and learned about the products. The design and functionality are really great, and I enjoy thinking up combinations. Like with Legos, pieces can be added or removed in order to suit your lifestyle. You can’t do that with most furniture.”
The USM Haller does not only take an active role in the residence, but also in the workspace. The height was kept low in the center of the room, and white and gray color schemes were mixed to blend in with the space. The panel specifications were changed according to height or direction for ease of use. Additionally, for health purposes, a door (drop down door) that can be pulled down to be used as a makeshift desk for the USM Haller near the wall was chosen to be used sometimes as a standing PC desk. Each unit fits perfectly with the size of Japanese houses. A matte black tabletop was selected for the USM Haller table to help with concentration on desk work. Also in one corner of the closet, there is a wardrobe unit to store seasonal clothing.
This residence houses a mixture of Japanese, international, new, and old items. And with everything, Lucas’s perspective on selection is unique.
“This may sound strange, but I like balance. There is a reason for the old things that are here, and there are new things that I want to preserve forever. Preferences like these have nothing to do with being male or female. Even with SDGs, I think it’s best to naturally arrive at that end through personal experiences, and not because there is some kind of format.”
Indeed, when the USM Haller was born in the 1960s, SDGs did not exist. However, products created with excellent materials, skill, and design have outlived generations and have been loved by many. The things that fill the space Lucas spends his time in are not all masterpieces or luxury items. Yet, there is meaning and good vibrations to each of them that fill the space with a uniquely worldly feel.
Lucas and Kaori, we thank you for your cooperation.
If you want to purchase a USM Haller piece yourself design it now in our online configurator, or find your local sales partner here.
PAPERSKY Japan Stories
Knee High Media Japan
Sales partner: Marvelous
Text: Takahiro Tsuchida
Photographs: Tadahiko Nagata