Homage to Japanese designA well-made design object can do more than its functional and decorative role – “it can communicate the story of the place where a product is made or where a brand is born, be it through films, imagery, or stories ” states the Singaporean designer Gabriel Tan, creative director at Ariake.
Ariake is a Japan-based brand that creates traditionally inspired furniture. The brand is was founded by two factories, Legnatec and Hirata Chair, from the well-known town of Morodomi in Saga prefecture, in south Japan.
The name Ariake means daybreak in Japanese and it refers to the Ariake Sea in southern Japan. The name can be translated as "morning moon" or “daybreak” and it symbolises a new beginning for the two manufacturers in their journey to create timeless pieces in collaboration with international designers.
The creative processTheir creative process is unique and it is inspired by the traditional practices of the city of Morodomi, a well-known place for its furniture factories and manufacturers. Because furniture is made for social situations where people leave, work and eat together, the creation of the designs for the Ariake brand was done over two intensive workshops in the city. Therefore, in the autumn of 2017, furniture designers, art directors, photographers and craftsmen did the same – they lived, worked and ate together.
Even though the expected language barrier due to the international team existed, the energy created by the designers and craftsmen inspired mutual trust that helped in defining the main goals and vision of the brand. The result of this strong bond created between people was a collection of furniture with different manufacturing techniques that is “inspired by the spirituality of Japanese culture and urban living contexts”.
The result of the collaboration between Japanese manufacturers and international designers was a 30 pieces furniture collection that encompasses seating, storage and tables that reflect traditional functionality and elegance while responding to nowadays needs. The materials used are natural and are specific to the traditional Japanese culture – oak, ash, hinoki, cedar, leather, paper cord, cotton canvas, upholstery. The unique finishes were a result of new techniques developed by the designers to use Sumi ink and Japanese indigo to colour wood furniture.
All the pieces are designed and manufactured in Morodomi, Japan. The creative team of international designers was formed by Anderssen & Voll, Gabriel Tan, Keiji Ashizawa, Norm Architects, Note Design Studio, Shin Azumi, Staffan Holm, Zoe Mowat, Studio MK27, Art Direction by AnnerPerrin.
The designs are various, but they all fall reflect the same attitude towards traditional Japanese craft. Nonetheless, their international practice allowed them to create unique designs by combining different influences from their background. For example, the Danish studio Norm Architects created two designs, the ‘Braid’ sofa and the ‘Outline’ chair. For the sofa, they used a simple architectural structure combined with braided paper cord, inspired by both elements of traditional Danish furniture and patterns found in Japanese bamboo and tatami constructions. The “Outline” chair incorporates the same combination of clean lines and a sharp, contemporary aesthetic.
Throughout Ariake, the international team of designers and manufacturers, under one guiding vision, create unique objects that define a new way of designing everyday timeless objects that reflect the traditions and craft.
Art Direction: AnnerPerrin
Photography: Sebastian Stadler