Sitting Pretty: Maruni launch new chairs designed by Naoto Fukasawa and Jasper Morrison
More than 80 years after being founded, Maruni Wood Industry has honoured its creator’s pioneering spirit by adding a host of new additions to the ‘Maruni Collection’.
The new pieces, which will launch at this year’s Salone del Mobile in Milan, include Naoto Fukasawa’s ‘Hiroshima’ stackable chairs and stools, and the ‘T’ chair and ‘O’ stool, designed by Jasper Morrison. All embody the ethos that has seen Maruni become Japan’s leading manufacturer of European-style furniture, imbued with the warmth and delicacy of traditional Japanese craftsmanship.
One of Japan’s oldest manufacturers of wooden furniture, Maruni was an early leader in ‘industrialised craft’ – embracing both machine technology and the skills of artisanal makers to create ornamental Western furniture without the expense that encumbered complex Japanese handicraft. It was a process finely honed throughout the 20th century.
The original ‘Hiroshima’ armchair, designed by Fukasawa and released in 2008, was the first piece in the ‘Maruni Collection’. Machine-shaped but finished by hand, the timeless model is a perfect example of Maruni’s inimitable practice. (Appropriately, Fukasawa became the company’s art director in 2010.)
Fukasawa’s new designs represent the next evolution of the armchair and ‘Hiroshima’ family – albeit with a reconfigured purpose. ‘As there have been more opportunities in countries around the world for the “Hiroshima” armchair to be used, there has been demand for items that can also cope in public spaces,’ the designer explains. ‘We decided to develop a new stackable chair by using this visual language.’
Thus, the newest iterations of ‘Hiroshima’ were born. Fukasawa has referenced the measured sculptural lines of the original armchair while expanding the material palette to include robust stainless steel legs alongside beech, oak or walnut seats and arms. The combination is seamless – ‘The harmony between the narrow and shiny stainless steel legs and the solid wood is beautiful,’ says the designer – and ideally suited to more scattered, communal arrangements.
The new products reflect Fukasawa’s wider design ethos – that in order for an object to become blended into peoples’ lives, it must sit in harmony with its surroundings.
‘I thought that good chairs would be the ones that became permeated with a flavour of daily living as they were used over a long time,’ explains Fukasawa of this philosophy. ‘What I aimed for was a refined and pure aura that at the same time has human warmth.’
Jasper Morrison’s ‘T’ chair and ‘O’ stool, created in maple with black, red or green details, are equally imbued with this warmth. The pieces are simply rendered: the ‘T’ chair and stool feature a spare, coloured steel support to the backrest, while the ‘O’ stool comprises a more undulating seat and coloured cross bar.
Named after their minimalist features (specifically the ‘T’-shaped backrest and ‘O’-shaped hole in the seat), both convey a relaxed aura through a combination of gentle forms and natural wood. ‘I believe,’ states Fukasawa of the British designer’s approach, ‘that Jasper has a strong will to create the extraordinary [from the] normal.’
Both Fukasawa and Morrison’s new designs evoke a timeless simplicity while maintaining the inimitable Maruni aesthetic of tactile grace and visually superior workmanship.
Maruni Wood Industry can be found at Hall 16, Stand F32, Salone del Mobile