Looking at the row of wooden doors in this Tokyo apartment, you might assume it’s hiding a broom closet or, perhaps, a tidy stack of linens. In actuality, pulling the doors towards the wall causes them to fold like an accordion, revealing a kitchenette.

This hidden kitchen is the work of Japanese design studio Minorpoet. According to studio founder Hiroaki Matsuyama, his team modeled the minimalist apartment after a Machiya—a traditional Kyoto townhouse in which, custom dictates, the kitchen must not be visible from the living room. In the case of this 650-square-foot Tokyo home, the kitchen is technically in the living room. But Minorpoet’s hideaway feature sidesteps that problem.

It’s a creative use of a small space—something designers have been doing more of, lately, as micro-apartments become increasingly common. MIT Media lab developed a robotic wall that serves as a shelving unit, pop-out desk, closet, and trundle-style bed. New York City’s first microapartments feature fold-out couches, extendable kitchen tables, and experiential perks like housekeeping and weekly errand-runners. You can even hire someone to rig up a bed that descends from your living room ceiling when you’re ready to call it a night.

Satoshi Shigeta

The key to micro-living, in other words, is multifunctionality. What Minorpoet’s design proves is that multipurpose-ing one’s home needn’t involve a levitating bed or a robot wall.

The tiny kitchen saves you space, and the doors preserve the uncluttered aesthetic of the entryway. “In Japan, there is a culture to find beauty in plain design,” Matsuyama says. The result is an apartment that pulls double-duty. It’s an economical use of space, sure. But mostly, it’s just beautiful.


Bet Your Whole Kitchen Can’t Tuck Into a Closet Like in This Tokyo Pad