Tako Armchair | Viewing Room
The Tako chair, combines advanced automated manufacturing techniques with superior hand craftsmanship, qualities that define Maruni.
Naoto Fukasawa established his eponymous practice in 2003, following his work for IDEO in USA and Japan. He has gone on to become renowned as one of the world's leading and respected designers, working across fields of interiors, furniture, lighting and electronics.
Naoto is recognised for his thoughtful and sensitive design approach, and that his design intelligence is highly attuned. Since 1999 he has progressed his theories of unconscious design consideration through 'Without Thought'. In 2006 he established 'Super Normal' with Jasper Morrison.
twentytwentyone hosted the first European exhibition of Super Normal in 2006 and launched Fukasawa's award-winning Plus Minus Zero electronics collection in 2009.Naoto is the curator of the Japan Folk Crafts Museum, Director of 21-21 Design Sight and Design Advisor for Muji. Naoto is also the Art Director of Maruni and with the launch of his new design Tako we thought it opportune to catch up.
20/21 For us Maruni is a very special furniture company. What first attracted you to develop your deep relationship with this company, particularly when you will be courted by furniture makers from other parts of Japan and all over the world?
Naoto Fukasawa I always wanted to design for a Japanese wooden furniture manufacturer. At the time when I had learned about Maruni’s tradition and manufacturing techniques, Maruni invited me to a project called “nextmaruni”. Then I was offered to become the art director of the MARUNI COLLECTION. Since then, I have come to fulfill my wishes as a modeling artist.
20/21 Japan has a long history of great craftsmanship. The concept of Mingei was communicated by Sori Yanagi’s father Yanagi Soetsu. Can a company such as Maruni realise beauty and function through their fusion of hand and machine production?
Naoto Fukasawa Exactly. Maruni have a philosophy of “Industrialized Craftsmanship” in their history. That idea interests me. They made it possible with advanced technology to produce a model that can only be done by handicrafts.
20/21 Your Hiroshima family of designs for Maruni began in 2008 and the all-wood dining armchair has proven to be a great international success. It is no doubt already a design classic. What ingredients do you think combined to achieve this and why does the recipe for furniture design prove so difficult to consistently find similar success.
Naoto Fukasawa I think it was a success accomplished by changing the general construction method, which was usually made by combining rod-shaped parts, to a method of freely carving off a block of wood with small pieces of wood stuck together. It is not easy to make, and because there are no restrictions on the shape, the modeling ability is even more required. There is no point unless you make the most of the charm of the wood.
20/21 Tell us about your new chair for Maruni. Tako is quite different to Roundish and maybe closer to Hiroshima. What was your approach, what were your aims?
Naoto Fukasawa Now that the interior space and architecture can be realized in a minimalistic and simple space, I felt that the time has come when a chair would be required to exist as an organic form, so I tried to create a complicated and soft shape.
20/21 You won the 2018 Isamu Noguchi Award, and your ability to reflect of sculpture through form is well known. What sculptures inspire you? Does Tako express a new level of freedom for you, through its highly organic composition?
Naoto Fukasawa You're right. I always want to achieve the beauty of a perfect shape without a failure. I am inspired by the power of carving out a solid block of stone or wood.
20/21 At Maruni you and Jasper Morrison are the ‘house designers’. This is somewhat peculiar as many other companies have many designers. Is there an unspoken language that you can communicate so that Maruni maintains a certain DNA. Are your different, but alike? Please tell us about this the special relationship.
Naoto Fukasawa It’s not like we make obligations to discuss or set some rules, but we have a feeling in common that we are both normal and thoughtful not to overstimulate others. If two designers don’t respect each other’s design, they never become friends. The most respected person who can design perfect design becomes your good friend. I respect Jasper a lot as a human and as a designer as well. I hope he thinks the same way, too. We have a good relationship. Jasper is a super great guy and super good designer. I love him. We influence each other and make better and better products.
20/21 As Art Director for Maruni, how do you decide your respective approaches to the Maruni collection?
Naoto Fukasawa Maruni, Jasper and I share what we should make.
20/21 The world of design is subject to some change as a result of the pandemic. No doubt you used to travel widely to visit your clients and to endorse your new productions. Do you feel there will a shift in the way you work and the way the companies market their collections?
Naoto Fukasawa Yes. I think so. Communication by any means and the inability to make actual visits will continue for some time. But that doesn’t mean the quality of design deteriorates.
20/21 How do we re-evaluate the use of materials, technologies and address sustainability? Your work is imbued with a sense of longevity, but how can we support efforts to communicate this through the wider industry and to ultimately to consumers.
Naoto Fukasawa I believe that contributing to a sustainable society is to continuously strive to create something that has a long-life that will never get bored or thrown away: Creating something that becomes a "Standard."
Thank you Naoto
The Stories behind Tako
Extract from a conversation between Naoto and Munetoshi Koda from Maruni
Tako means octopus in Japanese and I gave this name because the shape itself is like an octopus. It’s a bit funny name but cute at the same time. Jasper’s chair named Fugu means blowfish, and it’s a funny name, too, so I think Tako and Fugu make a good combination.
Long time ago, I wanted to become a sculptor. Maruni has a technology of carving to make any kind of shape that no one could have done before. I always wanted to design a chair that is like a sculpture one day. I love Isamu Noguchi. I like a form maker, not just a designer. I like to make a form. I am very interested in making forms and modeling, and there is a part that I think of myself as a "modeling artist" rather than a sculptor. Tako is a work that incorporates a lot of interest in form making and modeling.
In our office, our policy is we complete the form with either with or without functions. We complete a perfect and beautiful form before showing it out. This is our philosophy. We make the one-to-one model by hand in the office and then give it to our client or engineers to be realized. That’s the process.
View the original online exhibition here.