Maruni Wood Industry: Salone del Mobile 2014
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.