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issue 13 | December 2020
Before the HIROSHIMA armchair was designed by Naoto Fukasawa 12 years ago, Maruni’s main production was classical furniture. Fukasawa once said to us,
“the woodworking techniques are excellent, so it is unfortunate that the beautiful wood is hidden by a coat of paint.”
When making the HIROSHIMA armchair, Maruni once again considered making the best use of natural material. As experts of wood, the matters of how to assemble and what materials to use were left in Maruni’s hands.
Maruni decided to use straight grain considering not only the beautiful appearance but also to avoid warpage and shrinkage as much as possible. The two arm parts are taken from a single long plank so that the arms are symmetrical. The parts are then numbered and managed through the whole process. For the whole piece, including the seat, back, and legs, we meticulously choose the parts paying attention to the grain expression and color tones so that when combined the piece becomes a natural-looking and beautiful piece of furniture. The manufacturing process is rather unique and not the most efficient one, but this is the way how Maruni added a final touch of Japanese aesthetic to the product.
Fukasawa later commented in Maruni’s movie Maruni Story about the process of creating the HIROSHIMA Armchair with Maruni.
“Essentially, you do not know how the wood will turn out until you carve it. This can only be performed by someone with a great deal of experience. Craftsmen who are full knowledgeable about the wood create a combination of various materials and then a 5-axis-router carves the shape of the part. Calculated guesses are made to achieve a shape carved out in this manner so that the grain of the final shape looks beautiful. Seeing a chair being carved out in such a precise manner like this gives me a chill.”
Maruni experienced increased calls for a large solid table after the successful expansion worldwide with Naoto Fukasawa. To realize the best balance between the thickness of a solid tabletop and the legs, which is something that Fukasawa is particular about in his thinking, Maruni first attempted to utilize steel that complements the beautiful solid wood.
For the tabletop, we dared to randomly assemble wood boards in different widths. By skillfully combining each board with different grain expressions, each table becomes unique and expressive. Balancing the rich look of wood is no easy task and requires the skill and sensibility of a skilled craftsman. Furthermore, the contrast between the wood and the black iron enhances the appeal of the solid wood tabletop. Through the contrast of the materials, we could also make the solid tabletop and the legs of the chairs look even more beautiful. The black steel legs realized an exquisite texture that matched the different textures of the tabletop, being a smooth matte finish.
This clean-cut table that goes with any kind of chair, has become one of our best-selling tables not only because of its size customization possibilities but also its versatility that fits into any kind of atmosphere including homes and offices.
HIROSHIMA Armchair and our latest Tako Armchair were featured in Naoto Fukasawa’s interview on broadcast at NHK world program DESIGN TALKS plus. The program is in English and you can get a chance to explore his ideas and minds behind the designs. Watch On Demand from NHK World.
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