Better Living with Artisanal Design
CRAFTS SELECTION Vol.2
In an age dominated by soulless mass-production, quality handcrafted artisanal goods are a shining light.
In this series of articles, COVERCHORD showcases a selection of our artisanal products and introduces the people, places, and ideas behind them.
In this second volume, we focus on woodworking, a craft that has been an essential part of the Japanese way of life since ancient times.
While standardized mass-production may provide the convenience and cheap abundance desired for a fast-paced modern lifestyle, the inherent quality and depth of character of expertly crafted artisanal products cannot be produced en-masse.
Handcrafted products bring both function and beauty into our everyday lives.
Each such product has a story behind it - the artisan’s inspiration and toil that results in something that truly is unique in this world.
In this series, we will introduce the people, places, and thoughts behind a selection of COVERCHORD’s offering of artisanal goods.
Here we introduce four producers of daily-use wooden items.
See other articles in this series here
AIZAWA WOOD WORKS
AIZAWA WOOD WORKS was founded in 1947 in Wajima City, Ishikawa Prefecture, as a woodworking studio specializing in the production of base materials for lacquer ware.
They have a long history of working with several advanced techniques including joinery, “magemono” or curved woodwork, woodturning, and carving.
The company has a large collection of domestic wooden materials and began selling its original wooden products in 2013.
The beautiful grain of the wood is the focus of attention, forming eye-catching, one-of-a-kind trays and vessels.
COVERCHORD stocks small plates and trays made of solid cherry, zelkova, and chestnut wood. It takes 100 years for the wood to reach a size where it can be used for making these pieces.
AIZAWA WOOD WORKS
Founded in 1947 in Wajima, Ishikawa Prefecture. AIZAWA WOOD WORKS has been producing home-use products since 2013, with a focus on quality backed by historical and technical expertise, and beautifully finished with the grain of solid wood.
Sonobe Sangyo's original brand sonobe is based on the philosophy of “no stress, no waste, return to soil”.
Located at the foot of the mountains in the scenic Odawara area of Japan, the company’s integrated production system means they have full control over how they work.
The award-winning woodworking studio employs skilled craftsmen involved in every step of the creation process so nothing is wasted, with scraps of wood being used to their maximum potential before eventually being returned to the soil.
sonobe’s pieces are based on the humble idea that the food is the star at mealtimes, and the vessel in which it is served is merely the supporting role.
This idea is reflected in the simple designs that complement the food. The resulting vessels and utensils are highly practical, durable, easy to hold, and easy to clean.
Each item takes several months to complete, from selecting and drying the wood, forming the shape, and finishing with lacquer. The rounded bowls are long-time best-sellers, receiving the Good Design Award for the high level of craftsmanship involved in their making.
Founded in Odawara, Kanagawa Prefecture in 1949. sonobe products are made from beautiful wood of species indigenous to Japan and finished with a traditional lacquer coating.
AZMAYA creates beautiful, traditional products by collaborating with designers and highly skilled handicraftsmen from all over Japan, including lacquerware, ceramics, metals, and woodworking. Each item is carefully considered each step of the way, from conception to the final product.
The ‘Koshigake’ stool, for example, was imagined by AZMAYA, designed by Kenichiro Watanabe, and manufactured by Takehiko Kitahara.
It is constructed from the finest Japanese cypress wood, produced in the Tono region of Gifu Prefecture.
The simple, sturdy stool is constructed using the ancient ’hozogumi’ or mortise and tenon method, where the woodwork is slotted together without the use of nails or glue.
The stool is left uncoated to bring out the natural texture of the solid wood grain which will age beautifully over time.
Established in 1997. AZMAYA utilizes the best handicrafts from all over Japan to create beautiful and practical woodwork, lacquerware, ceramics, and metal tools.
rinao design is the brainchild of Rina Ono, a product designer who creates a variety of modern homewares using an array of different materials.
With a focus on ‘making’ and ‘using’, Ono endeavors to create simple, functional items that add warmth and value to the home.
By collaborating with craftsmen from all over Japan, Ono produces a range of artisanal pieces and has received numerous design awards along the way.
The wooden bowls are made in collaboration with Takahashi Kougei, a woodwork studio based in Hokkaido. Crafted from local linden and chestnut wood, the soft, organic shape of the bowls is said to be inspired by the smooth curve of an egg, which brings out the natural warmth of the wood.
Born in Miyazaki Prefecture, Rina Ono graduated from Tohoku University of Art & Design and the Swedish National University of Art and Design.
She worked as an assistant at Tohoku University of Art & Design before starting her design studio.