There are many types of designers. Still, one may find difficult to meet a designer like Yanagihara, who can design and also create new values by bringing the designers and craftsmen, as well as the craftsmen and users together. From the past, Yanagihara has integrated the craftsmen’s skills from a Japanese furniture manufacturer KARIMOKU, with the innovative ideas from national and international designers, which is the KARIMOKU NEW STANDARD. Through his new approaches in design, he has also nurtured the ”1616/aritajapan” and “2016/“ into a beloved brand. The two international Japanese brands aim to open the future of Arita porcelains. Yanagihara values the relationship between people, and his circle of warm and creative people continues to expand.
Speaking: Teruhiro Yanagihara
In February of 2019, HAMACHO HOTEL opened at Tokyo’s Nihonbashi Hamacho. We arranged the creative direction and design for one of their rooms called TOKYO CRAFT ROOM. This room is a platform for creating new crafts between skilled Japanese artisans and designers from both inside and outside the country to collaborate and innovate. The created craftwork will remain in this room permanently for the guests to see and actually use.
For the first project, a cabinet was created through a collaboration between the Netherlands’ Design Studio De Intuïtiefabriek and SOMA directed by a carpenter from Minokamo, Masaru Kawai. Another work that was created for this room during the first project was the porcelain cup. It was created through a collaboration between a Swedish designer and potter, Ingegerd Raman and the Arita pottery, Koransha.
The cabinet is a collaboration work between De Intuïtiefabriek and SOMA, directed by Minokamo’s carpenter, Masaru Kawai.
Photography by momoko Japan
The porcelain cup is a collaboration work by Ingegerd Raman and Koransha from Arita.
For the second project, a Swedish Architecture Design Unit, Claesson Koivisto Rune (CKR) and Sashimonogu Takahashi, a Hiroshima-based furniture workshop lead by the cabinet maker Yuji Takahashi, collaborated to create the table, bench and stool this fall.
The designers who I introduce to the craftsmen are basically who I have good relationship with. They are who I can trust, and they are also good-hearted. I only request to the designers who can work on a project as a team, even if they cannot understand each other’s language. As an example, my relationship with CKR starts from 2002, when I first exhibited at the Stockholm Furniture Fair. They spoke to me after seeing my work at the exhibition. Eero (Koivisto) introduced me to the Swedish furniture manufacturer, OFFECCT when he was the design director.
I had been admiring CKR, since seeing their work with Ingegerd’s atelier on the photograph collection. Their designs are not only minimum, there is a sense for details similar to the Japanese, which is fascinating. Whenever I meet them, they have always introduced me to many people saying, “Teru is a good designer”. It is because of them that I have good relationship with many people in the Nordic countries.
The sofa which Yanagihara designed for the Swedish Furniture Manufacturer, OFFECCT.
The work which I presented at the exhibition had received many positive reactions, and lead to receiving offers from number of manufacturers. In that situation, OFFECCT said, “The design is very nice but we cannot commercialize this design, since our philosophy isn’t in there.” Still, OFFECCT continued to follow my designs for two years, and finally said, “We will like to work together as a team”.
They said, “We will be expanding to Asia. Let’s grow together as OFFECCT’s first Japanese designer”. From this experience, for the projects that I am in charge as the director, I became to put importance on the relationship which I can feel that I can work with that person. If the first company I worked with outside of Japan was not OFFECCT, I could have been completely different from what I am now.
THE KARIMOKU NEW STANDARD, announced at the Milan Design Week (2010)
Photography by Shin Suzuki
When receiving projects, if I design everything by myself, it becomes a large business for me. But at the same time, the size of the project will be limited to myself. Therefore, when launching the global brand “2016/“ in 2016, the year marking the 400th anniversary of the Arita porcelain, we had 16 Arita potteries, trading companies and 16 groups of designers from 8 countries to work together. This allowed the project to become a project that leads to the future.
The venue of the Arita’s global brand, “2016/“ at the exhibition in Milan, when the brand made its debut in 2016.
Photography by Takumi Ota
Even after the project is over, I wish to keep the relationship with the people who I worked with. There are many designers in the Nordic countries who thinks this way, and work with the same manufacturer for a long time, such as Ingegerd Raman and Alva Aalto. I hope that there will be more people who think and work this way in Japan as well.
There are people who are against creating new designs in the regions of traditional craft. For example with Arita porcelain, the same design will continue for about approximately 10 years, and if it is long, it will be about 50 years. In the past, through the Dutch East India Company, people from around the world visited the leading industrial city, Arita in search for something new. From this story I was convinced that our activity was actually best for protecting the tradition. I wish to continue to challenge new things with the relationship between people that I treasure.
TOKYO CRAFT ROOM
*Tokyo Craft Room can be visited when guests are not staying by requesting at the receptions.
Teruhiro Yanagihara was born in 1976. He established his studio in 2002. He has undertaken various projects beyond genres and national borders, based on his philosophy of “designing the situation of designing”. He has designed for OFFECCT (Sweden), PALLUCCO (Italy), Kvadrat (Denmark), Skagerk (Denmark), SERGIO ROSSI (Italy) , and other international brands. As the creative director, he has participated in launching international Japanese brands such as KARIMOKU NEW STANDARD, 1616/arita japan and the 2016/ Arita porcelain joint project between Saga Prefecture and the Netherlands. Yanagihara has designed stores for THREE, FEBISM by THREE, JINS, Takeo Yodoyabashi Mihoncho-Honten and others. His works are included in the collection of The Centre national des arts plastiques, Paris (CNAP) and Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. He has co-authored “Real Anonymous Design” (Gakugei Shuppan-sha), “The Design Methods of 11 Designers of the 2000’s” (Rikuyosha), etc.
Text by Shiyo Yamashita