January 2015

The Next Generation

´╗┐With a limited edition cover by Matthew Barney

Maruni Wood Industry

Japanese furniture brand Maruni lured visitors to its stand at the Salone del Mobile with a new designs by Naoto Fukasawa and Jasper Morrison. Here, we explore the secrets behind their seating collection

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    Watch Maruni art director and designer Naoto Fukasawa explain how he brought his vision for the brand's new collection to life

  • Maruni's stand at this year's Salone del Mobile was a happy surprise, revealing itself at the very heart of the sprawling Rho fairgrounds. Photography: Nacasa & Partners Inc

  • The brand debuted Fukasawa's three-seater 'Roundish' sofa, which had a curved upholstered back that wrapped around the body like the arm of a suitor. Maruni showed it in a brilliant cobalt blue and paired with a duo of 'Roundish' armchairs and a stool. Photography: Nacasa & Partners Inc

  • Jasper Morrison’s slender 'Lightwood' chairs (right), meanwhile, appeared in their latest ashwood incarnations alongside Fukasawa’s 'Roundish' dining chairs (centre), with their new upholstered seats. Photography: Nacasa & Partners Inc

  • We also gravitated toward Morrison’s wood-framed 'Bruno sofa', launched in Milan with its loose cushions upholstered in pale-pink fabric from kvadrat, its backrest tweaked at an easy reclining angle. Photography: Nacasa & Partners Inc

  • Visitors at the fair flocked to Maruni's stand to see the new collection. Fukasawa's 'Roundish' collection saw no end of love, with visitors caressing the distinctive backrest while awaiting their turn to settle in. Photography: Nacasa & Partners Inc

  • Maruni art director and designer Naoto Fukasawa (left) and designer Jasper Morrison (right). Photography: Nacasa & Partners Inc

  • Fukasawa's 'Hiroshima' wood dining chairs (left), designed for the company in 2008, have a distinctive, unvarnished sinuousness but are altogether classic. Photography: Nacasa & Partners Inc

  • 'Bruno' sofa, by Jasper Morrison

  • 'Bruno' sofa, by Jasper Morrison

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As the bells and whistles of Milan’s Salone del Mobile subside, one of the memories that resonates with us the most is the happy discovery of the Maruni stand, which quietly awaited us at the Rho fairgrounds. Revealing itself at the very heart of the show, it provided the refuge we sought after navigating the outer layers of the hall – not least due to the warm embrace of the new Roundish sofa, designed by the company’s art director, Naoto Fukasawa.

The three-seater has a curved upholstered back that wraps around the body like the arm of a suitor. Maruni showed it in a brilliant cobalt blue. And, paired with a duo of Roundish armchairs and a stool, it saw no end of love, with visitors caressing the distinctive backrest while awaiting their turn to settle in. 

With Fukasawa’s guidance, Maruni has transformed itself from a manufacturer of hand-finished wood furnishings following a European ideal into a design-led brand that emphasises minimal Japanese aesthetics and traditional woodcraft for contemporary lifestyles. His Hiroshima wood dining chairs, designed for the company in 2008, have a distinctive, unvarnished sinuousness but are altogether classic. Years later, they are sold in more countries than ever (25 and counting); recently the London retailer Twentytwentyone picked up the range as well. 

The presence of Fukasawa and now Jasper Morrison at the helm of the design team tells you what you need to know about the brand’s focus. Both designers are revered for putting forth solutions for everyday living that are finely wrought but not overwrought: pure function without creative flourish. And where seating is concerned, they are steadfast in their commitment to comfort. 

At the fair, Morrison’s slender Lightwood chairs appeared in their latest ashwood incarnations alongside Fukasawa’s Roundish dining chairs, with their new upholstered seats. We also gravitated toward Morrison’s wood-framed Bruno sofa, launched in Milan with its loose cushions upholstered in pale-pink fabric from kvadrat, its backrest tweaked at an easy reclining angle.

It all had the effect of tempering the kaleidoscopic madness of the fair: just a few bare essentials to take the edge off. If that was the point of the stand – and the point of the brand – it wasn’t lost on us.