We caught up with renowned Japanese architect Kengo Kuma to talk about his latest collaboration with lighting and glass innovators Lasvit.
Kuma worked with Lasvit to create a product that drew its inspiration from a technique for preserving construction timber by charring its surface, known in Japan as Shou-Sugi-Ban or Yakisugi. This ancient technique uses charring wood as means to preserve it without the need of painting or sealing, an aspect leading to the current revival of this technique in eco-friendly architecture. Adapting this process to the centuries-old glass craft technique enabled a contemporary design that is unique for every single piece of hand-blown glass.
The tableware collection titled Yakisugi designed for Lasvit follows the success of previously introduced lighting collection and focuses on the organic beauty of this crackled burned-wood texture. Kengo Kuma explains
“The idea behind Yakisugi collection is about questioning the materiality of glass and natural wooden texture. My intention was to plumb the depth of the wooden soul, captured inside the glass.”
The wood leaves a permanent imprint of its scorched texture on the glass surface, making each piece an authentic original. This slight modification to a centuries-old technique produced a modern and minimalistic collection that combines simple geometric forms with unusual organic textures.
How did this Collaboration with Lasvit come about?
I visited their workshop during our exhibition in Czech, and found their work interesting. Then the opportunity came up for collaboration.
What was the inspiration behind the piece?
Not only the dark colour of Yakisugi but also its texture was most inspirational to me so I decided instantly to translate them into our products.
How involved were you with the manufacturing process? What did you most enjoy from this?
I made lots of discoveries during the process – each product has its own texture from Yakisugi so each one is unique. I have a glass for my own use, too..
And lastly if you could sum up design in a few words, what would it be and why?
Design is wood translated by light.
About the designer
Kengo Kuma is a renowned Japanese architect and professor at the University of Tokyo Graduate School of Architecture. He established Kengo Kuma & Associates in 1990 after earning his degree at the University of Tokyo in 1979 and studying further at Columbia University as a Visiting Scholar. His architectural office completed a series of highly acclaimed and award-winning projects both in Japan and abroad.
Did you see…
Check out the video we created at last year’s Milan Design Week were we interviewed Lasvit’s CEO Leon Jakimic to understand a bit more about the story behind Lasvit and the balance between craftsmanship and technology.
See more from Lasvit by visiting their profile on the Design Insider Directory