The first thing you notice about architect Yuko Nagayama is her youth. She looks far too young to have built a five-story commercial building in Tokyo's upscale Minamiaoyama area, a stunning boutique for Louis Vuitton in the heart of Kyoto, and shops for the handbag brand Anteprima all over Asia. No wonder. The 37-year-old architect launched her practice when she was only 26.
At that time, she had just left the office of Jun Aoki, a principal who encourages employees to exit after four years to infuse his firm with a steady supply of fresh blood. During her tenure, Nagayama acquired essential practical experience by working on houses and the Aomori Museum of Art. To assist his young prot'g'e as she went out on her own, Aoki sent her off with a commission for a salon in Tokyo's trendy Omotesando district.