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Butcher's boutique: Butcher's shop, Kamakura, Japan.

Front elevation.

Photos: Joshua Lieberman.

If you are vegetarian look away now! As a child I used to hate running errands to the butchers shop for my mother. The shop did not smell well, there was sawdust, bloody fingerprints everywhere, off-cuts of fat on the floor... I will save you some of the less savoury bits!

When Design 8 was asked to redesign a butcher's shop in the old town of Kamakura, Japan, they conceived something entirely different with the atmosphere more akin to an exclusive restaurant.

The owner of the shop wanted something modern and he wanted to prioritize his existing customers, rather than grow the business. Japanese butchers traditionally display their meat in a horizontal arrangement at low level under the counter. Only one person at a time can see the meat in this configuration. The designers changed this around displaying the meat in a vertical arrangement - as is common in other countries and particularly in restaurants specializing in meat.

The real innovation however is the look and feel of the shop. Wood, leather and quality materials give the place the feel of a boutique... a boutique for selling meat.

The interesting thing is that over the years, as generations brought up in the city lose their connection with the source of food, they seem to have become more squeamish about how food is produced. Some believe this helps to explain the increase in vegetarianism amongst city dwelling western nations. One manifestation of this has been the pre-packaging of meat by supermarkets where all the ugly activities, that I so detested seeing in the butcher's shop, are done out of sight.

This shop in Kamakura sanitizes the process of butchery in a different way, but it satisfies the same squeamishness.

The shop was a recent winner of a JCD Design award.

Close-up of front.

Shop counter.

Back counter.

Back counter.

Side counter.

Counter details.

Gratitude to Kohei Nawa via Spoon & Tamago.

 

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