1. ‘Nadia’ Furniture Collection
Company: Matsuso T
Designer: Jin Kuramoto
The ‘Nadia’ Furniture Collection is an interesting solid wood series based on inherited Japanese craftsmanship techniques used in traditional carpentry for shipwrights. The collection consists of a series of premium timber chairs, tables and coat racks. The whole ‘Nadia’ series has been developed by focusing on a traditional method, known as ‘Kumiki’, an interlocking technique. This is an interlocking technique used by Japanese carpenters that originates from traditional Japanese ships and the maritime industry. By incorporating the traditional ‘Kumiki’ technique for the primary construction, it enhances the strength while creating a very unique and distinctive design.
2. Agravic Stone Table
This table designed by Tokujin Yoshioka is an eye-catching ‘ultra modern- bordering on futuristic’ design. The design was inspired by Tokujin’s vision or imagination of the future, with the massive furniture piece that seems to free itself from gravity, existing in its own presence as if it were floating in the air.
3. Kenneth Cobonpue
Kenneth Cobonpue was born and raised in Cebu, Philippines. He is an industrial designer and has begun to be recognised globally for his signature designs in natural fibres and materials. His designs mainly focus on nature’s forms using rattan, buri, bamboo, and abaca. Due to his Asian heritage, he is known for his passion and utilisation of local craft and natural materials. Kenneth Cobonpue is one of the few Asian designers to have successfully broken into the international design scene. So it’s perhaps not surprising that for its inaugural edition, Maison&Objet Asia has named him their ‘Designer of the Year’.
Some extracts from “5 Minutes with Kenneth Cobonpue.”
What inspires you?
It comes from all sorts of places. I try not to force inspiration, but let it come naturally. But sometimes I still need to sit down and put myself in the right mood to be inspired. I’ve made furniture that’s been inspired by all sorts of things, like a crushed Coke can or a piece of croissant, and they’ve been successful pieces.
An example of one of the strangest source of inspiration came when my dog was giving birth. I was working on the design of a gazebo for a show and looking at the little puppies and so I came up with a design in the shape of a dog! And it worked really well.
What do you think is the number one challenge for the design industry in the Philippines or Southeast Asia?
A design industry thrives when there’s also a manufacturing industry. That’s why Italy is great because they have both. But we are in this region there are a lot of companies who are doing good work: Thailand, Philippines… and Singapore for example, by being very cosmopolitan, has a unique role to play. You’re more exposed, so to speak. But it’s good and bad. The design can become too homogenous or too generic, which is what’s happening now.
How do we overcome this?
I think you really have to [make a] conscious effort to search for something new, something different.
What’s the difference between Western and Asian designers?
Something I can do that others can’t… when it comes to weaving and finding new ways to weave, and new materials, I think we are second to none in Asia. We have experience in weaving almost anything from carbon fibre to bamboo to combination of composite materials. We’ve been doing it a long time. It’s a cultural thing.
If you have one advice for designers who are just starting out, what would it be?
I think it’s to do what’s natural, what’s in your heart. I think you need to have that spirit of fun, to show that you enjoy what you’re doing. Too often I see designers who are following trends, or want to be too commercial and they become ‘nothing’, [there’s] no soul. To find the soul it has to be something that you want to do. It’s important to put yourself in the design as well, and to come up with products that have heart.
4. Avein Office Chair
Designer: Shunji Yamanaka
Japanese based company ‘KOKUYO takes user comfort to new heights with Avein with its innovative airflow feature. Since its establishment in Japan in 1905, KOKUYO has been making products that heavily consider the users’ perspective.
The Avein chair is designed by Shunji Yamanaka. The Japenese designer has incorporated many innovative ergonomic features that help to make this chair one of the most comfortable and supportive office chairs. KOKUYO explains the chairs features: “Avein incorporates uniquely developed air cushions that match the contours of the human body. Each set of cushions – two on the top and bottom of the chair back and two on the front and rear of the seat – are connected by ‘air veins’. Air flows between the paired up air cushions in response to the user’s posture and movements, to optimise the distribution of body pressure. In addition, valves control the flow of air between the cushions, to enable the user to change the comfort levels with infinite possibilities.”