Japanese Micro-Houses: Exploring Functionality and Creativity


August 1, 2013

Have you heard about the growing trend in international housing?  It’s called micro-housing and it took off in Tokyo several years ago.  As you can imagine, because of the large population, land is at a premium in Tokyo.  So, when people have as little as 300 sq. feet to work with, they have to get creative.  Architects are creating multi-level houses on these small plots of land.  The idea is to use the space to be minimalist and functional while still including the necessities and as much luxury as possible.  The room and facilities are strategically placed enabling the occupants to have all the modern convenience in a small space.  Beds often fold out of the walls or are on the highest level.  Living spaces are multi-functional and have eating areas shared with work areas or lounge areas.

I love the idea of taking something small and making the most of it.  They say that the non-conformists like these micro houses.  Why?

  • They are a refuge for them.
  • They offer them the opportunity to use their spaces creatively.
  • They have to redefine the way they live.

It’s the ultimate challenge when it comes to modern housing.  And, it’s not just in Tokyo.  It’s starting to show up in Europe as well.

The reason I find this particularly interesting is that for as long as it’s been around, HR and talent acquisition have been relegated to the smallest, out-of-the-way spaces in organizations.  We practically live in the closets when it comes to the rest of the organization’s population.  Yet, we have adapted over the years and learned how to use our working environment to our advantage.  For me, as long as I have the ability to get out and meet with the teams I support, I’m right at home.  I use my space creatively.  I redefine the way I work and practice HR on a regular basis, and I strive to provide a refuge for managers and employees.  I’m a micro-house of sorts.

I like finding interesting design or culture stories that make me stretch my mind about who I am or the industry I work in.  A fun site I found is Little Diggs.  Be sure to check it out and learn how people are using small spaces, less than 500 square feet, to live and work.  What are some sites or blogs you like that are about design and culture?  Have they ever inspired you to think about work differently?  Let’s create a list for our community by sharing them in the comments.


  • Cool idea to make the most of the available resources that they have available to them. I personally try and keep up with several culture and design blogs, some of my favorites are Junkculture, Significant Objects, Accidental Mysteries, Found in Mom’s Basement, This Blog Sits at the Intersection of Anthropology and Economics, Pitchfork, Brooklyn Vegan. There are so many more it is hard to name them all.

  • apartmenttherapy.com is my favorite blog site. It started as more of a home decor site, but has now sort of shifted its focus to small space ideas. It’s been around for awhile, so there’s a TON of great content.

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About Trish

A former HR executive and HCM product leader with over 20 years of experience.





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