They recently designed the interior of Southerden Patisserie and Café in Bermondsey Street. Here they reveal who makes the best ramen in London, where to buy giant palm trees and why champagne tastes best drunk from a pewter goblet.
Where we live and work
We’ve lived and worked on the Brixton/Clapham border since 1992. Our studio is a two-minute walk from home, which we share with our daughter Tomomi, 17, and our son Naoki, 20, who will probably come back to live here after he graduates from university next month. Our house is a classic Victorian four-bedroom mid-terrace. When we bought it the walls were falling down so we reinstated them, painted them white and stained the wood floors dark brown.
Mark: lots of pattern and colour have gradually crept into the house, mostly our own prototype wallpaper and textile designs, so the rooms look exuberantly colourful and busy. We use our hallway as an ever-changing exhibition space and installed a gallery hanging system that allows us to change paintings regularly without damaging the wallpaper. The kitchen is simple wood, stainless steel and slate with open shelves for all our pots, pans and blenders. Wakako, who is vegan, loves spending her spare time sprouting seeds.
Mark: I love Friday lunchtimes at KOI Ramen Bar in Brixton Market. You sit outside under tarpaulin watching a guy make the best ramen in town for £5 a bowl.
Wakako: my favourite is Michelle Wade’s Maison Bertaux in Soho, London’s oldest French patisserie. They made our wedding cake. We sometimes pop in for tea and a slice of cake.
What luxury means
Mark: it’s meeting friends at the Boot & Flogger, an atmospheric wine bar in Southwark, where I can drink champagne in pewter goblets, which makes it taste nicer and keeps it colder.
Wakako: it means splurging on special ceramic paints at my favourite art materials shop Green & Stone in King’s Road, to decorate my growing collection of whiteware.
Money no object
Wakako: I play classical music so an upright Steinway piano, though it would cost about £30,000.
Mark: I would like a Japanese bathroom that includes a cedar box bath made by bathroom company Toto (the Armitage Shanks of Japan) because the way people wash in Japan is much more ritualised than here and the water you bathe in is completely clean.
Both: we love to go hunting for treasure at Battersea boot market, which doesn’t start until noon. That leaves us plenty of time to visit Paramount Plants and Gardens in Enfield. You can buy huge palm trees and the people who run it are lovely.
Most talented designer
Both: Sissel Tolaas, a Norwegian scientist-artist who designs scents and has a client list that includes Adidas, Comme des Garçons, Ikea and DaimlerChrysler. She famously extracted bacteria from one of David Beckham’s trainers to mix with raw milk to make cheese. Her work is utterly fascinating.
Mark: Streatham Park Bowling Club. It is a beautiful 1949 building with an enclosed green, roses and a marquee. There are jazz festivals there. It is a hidden oasis and a slice of traditional England in the middle of London. Wakako likes to walk around the old back streets of Brixton.