AtHomewithOurFounders In their north-east London townhouse, Kenjiro, Emete and their two young daughters live closely with the Hato Store philosophy

From its earliest beginnings, HATO has always been rooted in play. Making. Experimenting. Working from a place of curiosity, and building connections to a local and international community in the process.

When directors Kenjiro Kirton and Jackson Lam founded the printing press and design practice in 2009, and then later joined by interactive director Jason Chow, it was with two great predecessors in mind. Their ‘Italian godfathers’: artist and industrial designer Enzo Mari, with his simple, poetic reinterpretations of objects, and polymathic painter, writer, sculptor and designer Bruno Munari, a spokesperson for curiosity and hands-on education. Brand director Emete Kirton joined in 2018, having worked in fashion and food, and always romanticised the idea of being a shopkeeper.

So when Ken and Em created Hato Store in 2020 – an organic addition to the HATO family, and a reflection of the whole team behind it – Mari and Munari were two of the first designers to arrive onto the shop floor. (It’s difficult, after all, to separate an appreciation for good design from a desire to surround yourself with it, and share it.)

Now, Hato Store exists as a space to explore the uncommon and well-crafted. Visitors to its Coal Drops Yard home will find something new to discover each time they visit: interesting and beautiful wares, from iconic furniture and lighting to consciously created clothing, rare books, original artworks and natural scents for the body and home.

The focus is on the unusual and unconventional, or the difficult-to-find. New objects arrive not in seasonal swathes, but in accordance with how long it takes their makers to produce them. And the makers, from Tokyo-based artist Kentaro Okawara to London-based publisher Dent-De-Leone, are a reflection of the close, collaborative relationships the store’s founders have established both at home and further afield.

For their part, Ken and Em live in close proximity to the store’s collection. Martino Gamper’s colourful and iconic Arnold Circus stools can be found throughout the Tottenham home they share with their daughters Rei, four, and Aya, five months. Delicate, handblown glass vessels by Paris-based organisation La Soufflerie are dotted around their kitchen. Himaa’s bold, minimalist artwork hangs in their bathroom.

They moved in a few months ago, and are slowly settling in. Here, Jacob Lillis photographs the family at home, surrounded by the things they love.


Ken Lighting an incense. The scent can complete the space and connect us to our past. In Japan it’s customary to light an incense as a sign of respect to your ancestors, and this is something I really enjoy doing – welcoming them into our home.

Rei Dressing up for the day.

Em That first cup of tea with Ken in the mornings, if we are running around different rooms getting ready, and leaving separately. It connects us and grounds us daily.


Em The kitchen, without a doubt.

Rei In my mama and papa’s bed.


Em I have a thing for glasses, and vintage clothing from YSL, Issey Miyake and Comme des Garçons.

Ken For me it would also be clothing. A few years after starting HATO I started to invest in pieces of clothing and quickly realised that it was close to a more economical way of purchasing, and at least less wasteful. I have a pair of Comme des Garçons trousers that I bought when we were quite young and travelling around Japan. The shape is still my favourite, after nearly ten years. I also have a very small collection of vintage Japanese toys. Since having Rei it has started to grow, and we really enjoy creating games with them.

Rei I collect stones at school. I find them in the garden and pretend they are jewellery.


Rei My shoe lamp is my favourite.

Ken That’s a Noguchi Akari – you picked it out when we were buying lamps for the house, didn’t you. Rei talks about this weekly, and guiltily, we still haven’t gotten round to putting it up!


Ken I’m really enjoying the Lost in Translation soundtrack at the moment, it’s really easy listening and the art direction is strong and simple. I’ve recently started to explore movie soundtracks more and more, as a way of re-experiencing films, or the director’s mindset.


Em Cooking is a daily exploration. I take cooking at home seriously, and most enjoy sitting and reading through my cookbooks for inspiration. I very rarely follow a recipe, but use them more to understand methodologies, or combinations of ingredients I haven’t tried yet.


Em I usually do roasted tomato sauce pasta with a nice salad, lots of good parmesan, and some wine if we have it.

Ken My favourite go-to right now is pan-fried gyoza, rice and pickles.


Em Pancakes. We have ours with tahini and carob molasses – a staple combination in Turkish-Cypriot breakfasts.


Em Our Brown Betty Tea Pot, such a good pour every time. The little La Soufflerie glass jam pots are also so delicate. They bring so much joy even to a handful of nuts or serving of yoghurt in the morning.

Ken My knives from Japan, but I really need to sharpen them! I also have an old family Katsuobushi grater box that I’m really excited to finally get to try out once my aunt from Japan comes to London – she is bringing a large dried tuna.


Em It’s hard to pinpoint one place or instance, I love so many small corners of the house. It’s always a good idea to look up, I’d say, the plasterwork is such a beautiful surprise. I often have to remind myself that it’s in my own home.

Rei My bedroom, because I like the pink floor.

Ken My favourite reading spot is on the sofa. We have the large French doors at the back, which I’ve found bring in a lovely natural light.


Em I go out into the garden every opportunity I get, even if it’s grey and muddy. I have been reading that it’s best not to over-prune and interfere with it, though, so I’m learning to observe more than anything. We also really enjoy walks in Hampstead Heath woods. It’s a sacred area for nature in London. It has such an otherworldly and ancient air about it.


Em We are lucky enough to have a great Bakkal, a Turkish grocery store, and organic shop at the end of our road. Both are great for browsing aisles of interesting things.

Ken When we first came to Tottenham to scope out the area we stumbled across a small Japanese sushi shop called Sushi Heads. We’ve since learned that the area has a small Japanese community – for us it’s really nice that the kids can grow up both with a Turkish and Japanese influence. Rei and I go to a monthly Japanese kids club where the children meet, learn more about their culture and borrow books.

Em We also enjoy Bruce Castle Park. It has a 400-year-old oak in the middle of it.

Interview by Maisie Skidmore
London, 2023

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