Rooms & Dreams #001 - Roshan Silva

Provide guests with a relaxing space the moment they enter the room.

A wooden Sri Lanka table placed over a Persian rug… An antique Japanese dresser and curtains made from old French fabrics…. Regardless of the fact that the room is full of objects from completely different backgrounds and countries, you can’t deny the comfort and harmony it provides. Behind this unique, interesting space is Roshan Silva. In addition to running a café in Kamakura, Tokyo, the multitalented Silva is also a fashion designer and has produced aromatic items using his unique, refined taste. He describes the ideology behind his interior design as “creating a space that allows for both the family and guests to relax and enjoy.” In this room, we talked to him about his dreams for the future, which get bigger and bigger every day.

Roshan Silva

Café/Shop Owner, Designer

Born in Italy, he moved to Japan 11 years ago after working in the fashion industry in Milano. He currently lives in Tokyo with his Japanese wife and 2 daughters. Including his first shop LA VIE A LA CAMPAGNE in Nakameguro, he also runs a café & antique shop in Kamakura and Jiyugaoka. In addition to designing his own apparel brand THE FACTORY, he applies his unique taste and skillset as a space/interior designer, aroma product producer, and much more. Currently on sale, his book Roshan Silva’s Quiet Lifestyle features his own interior design techniques and DIY tips and tricks.

In general,
all the furniture is
more than
100 years old.

—What a beautiful living room! Is the floor tatami?
Yes, it is. When I renovated this 60 years old house, I tried to keep the original Japanese feel of this room intact. This is where we eat with a family, hold house parties for guests, et cetera. I love how this interior style allows for anyone to sit however they please.

—This tea is delicious. The cup is also very beautiful.
I’m glad to hear that. This is Sri Lankan Ceylon tea which uses brown sugar from Miyakojima and natural ginger grown in Miyazaki prefecture. This café au lait bowl with a base is actually quite rare. It’s a 19th century bowl from Belgium.

—This table and carpet, too… All of the furniture is so interesting.
The table is from my mother’s homeland of Sri Lanka. Made with jojoba wood, it’s quite soft to the touch, isn’t it? In Sri Lanka, after eating a meal, people would fall asleep right on top of it. The carpet is a Persian carpet that was used in a Paris hotel. The shelf near the window is actually a shoe rack that was used in a French factory. The non-slip rubber is a unique part of the build.
—So many rare pieces. How about this curtain?
These are made from an old French bed cover. Using a thumbtack on a king-size cover fit perfectly. The lacing on both ends are handmade French lacing from the 19th century.
—Even though this room is full of objects from different backgrounds, there is a sense of harmony… It’s such a comfortable space.
I love antiques, so in general, all of the furniture and tableware were made over 100 years ago. Since everything is handmade it’s all very durable and still contain remnants of being used and treasured across different generations. Even though I didn’t have a specific style I tried to create for this room, I think the unity you feel comes from the fact that each object has a deep sense of history attached to it. I believe that the value of an object isn’t just about how much it costs. For me, value comes from being used over a long period of time and being able to feel the love that people of the past put into each object.
—Where did you get all of these unique pieces of furniture?
Mostly from France, the Netherlands, and Belgium. The tableware was mostly bought from flea markets, while I bought the larger furniture items from local warehouses and junkyards and had them transported by boat. I love visiting local Japanese antique shops around the country, too. From design to fabric, embroidery, tableware, and textiles… the amount of beautiful items Japan has made is something to truly be proud of.

It’s about feeling
truly relaxed.

—What do you make sure to keep in mind when it comes to interior design?
My focus is on creating a place where you can relax and feel close to nature. Sunlight is particularly important. Whenever I choose a new location, I always make sure to see how the natural hits it in both the morning and evening. I love natural light much more than electrical light. Also, in Sri Lanka and Italy, being able to welcome guests just like they are family is an important part of interior design. That’s why I always focus on creating a space that both family and friends can feel relaxed in and enjoy a meal together.
—Your cafés and shops also feature various goods and aromatic items that help customers relax.
That’s because I want everyone to feel comfortable when they walk in. For example, women tend to like interiors that have a “cute” design, and I try to take those feelings into account when designing a space.

—When did you decide you wanted to open up your own shop?
I’ve always wanted to run a café or shop, but my biggest dream is to own a hotel. Everything I’ve done up until now, from textiles to apparel, cafés, restaurants, aroma, interior design… Running a hotel would be the perfect way to bring all of that together.
—So, you still have yet to reach your final destination.
That’s right. I still have a long way to go. I’m currently preparing to move into Kobe or Okayama. And actually, I found a beautiful location on Miyakojima in Okinawa… I would love to open a hotel there! Hopefully I’ll have something ready in 2 and a half years.
—Finally, what does the word “room” mean to you?
In Japan, everyone works really hard. Whether it be at a restaurant, shop, or some other location, there aren’t many wide-open spaces to relax in. Of course, sometimes it’s a lot of fun to be in busy locations, but the ultimate place to relax and feel at home is, without a doubt, your own room. That’s why, when I think of a “room”, I immediately think of a place where I can escape from the bustle of daily life and think about my own dreams and future. As long as I have that space, I know I can wake up tomorrow and continue my work towards achieving my dreams, step by step.