Norm Architects blends Japanese and Danish styles in furniture produced with Karimoku
Danish studio Norm Architects has teamed up with Japanese furniture manufacturer Karimoku to create four pieces of wooden furniture for a renovation project in Tokyo.
Designed to reference both Japanese and Scandinavian aesthetics and traditions, the designs include a wood-framed sofa, a coffee table modelled on a Japanese temple, a dining chair made using recycled materials and a "paper-thin" dining table.
They were designed to furnish a series of recently renovated townhouses in Kinuta, west Tokyo.
"Passion has been the keyword in this process," said Frederik Werner of Norm Architects. "For a project to succeed, you need people to invest themselves in it – and the Karimoku collaboration is an excellent example of that."
"Japan and Denmark share traditions in their approach to furniture design and cabinetry, and the Karimoku collaboration was an opportunity to investigate that, and learn and benefit from each other," he added.
The sofa is made from hinoki – a type of cypress wood commonly used in Japan. With all of its joints and connections displayed, it is intended to reference both traditional Japanese architecture and mid-century Danish furniture.
The sofa's armrest extends around the sofa, where it morphs into a backrest that can be used as a shelf.
The coffee table features a stone surface, raised up over a wooden frame in a way that allows light to travel through.
Japanese temples and shrines informed the shape of this frame, while the weighty stone top references the minimalist work of Danish designer Poul Kjærholm.
To create the dining table, the architects played with different dimensions.
"We've experimented with the balance between lightness and heaviness, making it paper-thin when seen from some angles and more robust from others," said the team.
The accompanying dining chair was made using existing timber parts found in the 13,000-square-metre Karimoku factory.
"A hybrid between the Japanese and Scandinavian aesthetics emerged when working on the dining chair," said the architects. "The result is a classic, minimal piece of furniture with a warm look."
Founded in 1940 in Chita-gun, Aichi Prefecture, Karimoku is the largest wooden furniture manufacturer in Japan. It is also the parent company of contemporary furniture brand Karimoku New Standard.
Norm Architects was one of three studios that teamed up with Karimoku to create furniture for this project, called Architect Meets Karimoku, along with Keiji Ashizawa Design and Torafu Architects.
All three studios were invited to furnish apartments in a series of renovated townhouses. Set to open in April 2019, some of the newly furnished spaces will function as homes, while others will be used as offices.
In the past Karimoku has also worked with German designer Christian Haas on a collection of space-saving furniture and French studio Big Game on a series of oak pieces.
Photography is by Jonas Bjerre-Poulsen and Masaki Ogawa.