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Laview, I Love You

A hymn to immersion in space and a spectacular example of Japanese design, which gives a nod to the future but also to the past.

by Giacomo Donati

Even in the era of flight, trains continue to make us dream: perhaps precisely because, despite having imposed a sudden acceleration on our lives, they never abruptly interrupted our contact with the space we crossed, allowing us to experience the journey still in a human scale, on this side of the clouds, trains have always remained a soft and relaxing solution to bring us elsewhere.

And like every environment, where you spend hours being lulled, thinking, passing the time, the greater the pleasure of staying, the more is the beauty and refinement of what surrounds us: therefore, trains also have the their mythical models, from the Orient Express - transfigured into a legend by novels and movies - to the Bernina red train, to the Indian toy trains - also the subject of Wes Anderson’s cinematic unforgettable adventure; countless romantic expressions, which are journeys within the journeys, destination themselves, no longer simple functions, which have contributed in making the train that much-loved means in the world.

Japan, in addition to the famous shinkansen, already had some cult trains (including the one exclusively used by the Emperor), but from last March there’s one more, that besides prizes (a fresh Good Design Award, waiting for others), is set to win the hearts of its future passengers.

The name tells it all: Laview - and is the new limited express train of Seibu Railway lines that connects Tokyo-Ikebukuro station and Chichibu in nearby Saitama, to which it’s literally love at first sight.
Actually, to be precise, L stands for Luxurious Living, A for (speedy like an) Arrow, VIEW for (spectacular) views.

A design never seen before, maybe because its creator, the famous designer Kazuo Seijima, the soul of the Japanese architecture firm SANAA, approached a train design for the first time: "I was approached to develop a train car concept, as never seen before. This is my first time to design a train and the most obvious difference with building design is that the train can move to different places. This train moves through the Tokyo to the mountains of Chichibu and I thought it would be nice for the train to be able to respond and blend into the surroundings in a soft way. Also, I wanted to make a train which feels like a living room where passengers can freely relax and feel motivated to ride the train everyday."
For this reason, Laview is not only a means of transport, but a destination in itself.

A plethora of details make it unique and special: the rounded front, a bit between avant-garde and retro futurism, with a curved glass like a huge porthole, a satin aluminum livery that softly reflects the surroundings, extra-large windows (135x158cm) and yellow interiors that convey a cheerful and sunny feeling. As anyone who has already been in Japan knows, every detail, even the most obsessive, is in the right place.

The combination of such elements gives the impression of being on board but at the same time outside, one with the surroundings, transforming the journey into something exciting and unexpected. A further tribute to the means that still accompanies us everywhere with the same charge of wonder since almost two centuries.