En Ja

Tokyo Craft Room

Writer, 2018-

Collaboration lies at the heart of Tokyo Craft Room, a guest room and gallery at Hamacho Hotel in Nihonbashi Hamacho. Starting as a blank canvas of sorts, the space will gradually evolve through the addition of products developed through collaborations between designers and craftspeople from different regions of Japan.

These collaborations are the focus of my ongoing work on the project, whereby I document the development of each product across three key phases: research, design and production. Taking the form of an online journal, my writings examine the ways that different elements of craft, such as techniques, materials and locality, influence the creative process. In tracing the creation of products ranging from furniture to tableware, I explore the nature of collaboration and its potential to shape the future of craft in Japan, and the around the world.

The sweet scent of cedar lingers thick in the midsummer air. One by one, woodworker Masaru Kawai draws from his collection of hand planes, some barely the size of his palm, before a series of smooth movements send another stream of wafer-like strips curling onto the benchtop. For all of its simplicity, this process draws the attention of designers Eefiene Bolhuis and Eva Gevaert, not only for the way it conjures textures, forms and scents from within a solitary block of wood, but for the almost meditative way in which it is undertaken.

Research is an ongoing pursuit for Ingegerd Råman, the designer and potter whose extensive body of work spans almost six decades. Filled with endless curiosity, she is constantly observing and examining the world around her.

Each designer charts their own path through the early stages of a new collaboration, gradually building an understanding of its possibilities. Ola Rune and his team’s conversations with Takahashi not only revealed the potential of his joinery skills, but a sheer enthusiasm for his craft. These insights became stepping stones, enabling the designers to explore new concepts with a sense of confidence.

Photographer: Momoko Japan

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