Claesson Koivisto Rune presents custom-made wood furniture collection for Tokyo Craft Room during DesignArt Tokyo 2019
The HAND wooden furniture collection is the result of a unique collaboration between Swedish architect and designers Claesson Koivisto Rune, and expert Japanese carpenter Yuji Takahashi.
“During our first meeting, Takahashi-san started showing me some samples on his iPad. When we looked at the detailing I thought to myself, ‘This is unreal. You can’t do this, it’s impossible to make a box or tray in this manner,’” Rune recalls with a smile.
According to Rune, “We wanted to do something that we hadn’t done before and see how much we could challenge Takahashi-san. When the audience see this product, we want them to understand how well it has been made.”
Tokyo Craft Room was initiated by Creative Director Teruhiro Yanagihara in order to use Hamacho Hotel as a platform for skilled Japanese artisans, as well as both national and international designers to collaborate and innovate using their various crafts. Through their creations, a stay-in space filled with handicrafts from all over Japan offers a rich experience for guests.
At the start of the project, insights into the scale of the space and its functional requirements were gained by spending a night at Tokyo Craft Room. These observations laid the foundations for early discussions with Takahashi about the kind of furniture they could create together. Rune and his team’s conversations with Takahashi not only revealed the potential of his joinery skills, but a sheer enthusiasm for his craft.
The final design of the HAND furniture collection pushed Takahashi and his team further technically as the cross-sections of each of the component parts are made in such a way so that they become progressively thinner towards their outer edges, resulting in an edge thickness of only a few millimetres.
This thinning of parts begins at the very centre of each part, meaning that all the furniture pieces lack any true, flat surfaces. All the surfaces are slightly convex. Even the tabletop’s upper surface has a very subtle camber, a quality not easily observed but more obviously felt through touch.
Furthermore, these convex surfaces meet along the outer edge of each component which in itself forms perimeter shape from a series of curves, devoid of straight lines. The sum of these choices presents a considerable challenge for hand tool production. However, the completed collection of furniture retains a particular tactility that is often lost in larger series production. The impact of the HAND pieces deepens upon closer inspection of the exceptional detailing courtesy of Yuji Takahashi and his team.
“When I think about Japanese craftsmanship, one striking example is the shrine at Ise Jingu. Every twenty years they make a replica to replace the existing shrine complex, and by using old techniques they keep tradition alive.”
“Research is something that’s always present in our work,” explains Rune. “We’ve been working together for 25 years, but we’re still three very curious individuals who are constantly looking at what’s happening and why. We want to know why some people do the same thing differently.”