Masaaki Kanai

The International Friend of Habitare 2017 is The Chairman and Representative Director of MUJI Masaaki Kanai. In his keynote speech Mr. Kanai will discuss MUJI’s philosophy, its potential for growth, and the visions of better everyday life that are behind the success of the company.

Japanese lifestyle retailer MUJI is known around the world for its affordable, aesthetically minimalist and beautiful everyday objects, clothes, and home appliances, all of which are user-driven, and use high-quality materials and a streamlined manufacturing process. In Japan, MUJI has branched out into house concepts, selling prefab homes and renovating old apartment buildings.

Wed 13 Sept 2.30 pm
Keynote: International Friend of Habitare 2017, Masaaki Kanai




Jonathan Olivares

Jonathan Olivares  is based in Los Angeles and works in the fields of industrial, spatial and communication design. His designs engage a legacy of form and technology, and ask to be used rather than observed.

Olivares will discuss recent projects including  Olivares Aluminum Chair, for Knoll, the installation Room for a Daybed, the Aluminum Bench for Zahner, an office furniture showroom and learning environment for Vitra and the exhibition Source Material, curated with Jasper Morrison and Marco Velardi

Thu 14 Sept 3 pm
Keynote: Jonathan Olivares selected work




Harry Charrington

It’s difficult to imagine a time when Aalto was not famous. Professor and architect Harry Charrington will consider why Aalto Furniture was so successful in the UK, and how British consumption showed a demand for modern furniture that was inexpensive, elegant, flexible, durable, wooden, cosy, as well as visibly modern – not necessarily in that order.

Charrington will also show how this success – and the problems that came with it – led to the founding of Artek in 1935, as well as Aalto’s later global reputation.

Fri 15 Sept 1 pm
Keynote: Harry Charrington: Before the Myth, Aalto furniture in 1930s London




Marwa Al-Sabouni

Marwa Al-Sabouni was born in Homs, a city in the central-western part of the country, and has a PhD in Islamic Architecture. Despite the destruction of large parts of the city, she has remained in Homs with her husband and two children throughout the war. In her just-released book The Battle for Home (Thames & Hudson, 2016), she explores the role architecture and the built environment play in whether a community crumbles or comes together, and she offers insights on how her country (and a much-needed sense of identity) should be rebuilt so that it will not happen again.

Fri 15 Sept 4 pm
Keynote: Marwa Al-Sabouni: The Backstage of reconstruction in Syria, a threshold between emergency and investment