The Kinoko sofa has two solid ash wood armrests connected by a back section with joints defined by their semi-circular shape. It joins an armchair with the same name and style that Mentsen launched with Zilio A&C in 2019.
"Kinoko's solid, timber plane at the armrest level defines the strong rectangular outline, with two wide solid ash slubs," said Mentsen.
"This strong expression is delicately softened by small semi-circular cutouts where the two lines of armrests meet the line of back support."
The wooden structure creates a U-shape, which the studio said influenced the name of the furniture.
"The collection is named for its armrests, which resemble the shape of the Japanese katakana character 'コ' ( pronounced ko)," it explained.
"This gives the chair its name Ki-no-Ko, simply meaning 'letter Ko in wood', and also the word for 'mushroom' in Japanese," said Mentsen.
In contrast to the wooden structure the seating is designed to be soft, with rounded shapes and warm textiles.
Mentsen said it chose the materiality and design taking into account the capabilities of Zilio A&C, which primarily produces wooden furniture, and the materials available in its surrounding area.
"Zilio make their products in Italy – mostly in the region of Friuli Venezia Giulia, using unique local supply chains that are mix of industrial and artisan – and the end price can easily creep upwards if the design is labour intensive," said Mentsen.
"We had to constantly ask questions of what can be mechanised and what cannot," it continued. "Upholstery involves many human hands, we had to assume every detail adds to the production cost and ask ourselves if it’s worth it."
"It was a fine balance of selecting the quality and details that gives furniture a distinction and removing the unnecessary."
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