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Kyoto Field Trip Notes

I have for some time now been working on a project Hunting Wajima – that has set out to imagine the form and construction of furniture that will be made by a workshop in East Timor. The name of the project was itself a project – a sort of branding exercise. I set out to come up with a name that would point to the spirit of the design – a design-brief in two words as it were. This is different from what I have done for another project where I carved a portmanteau word – Jaliangan – to define the form of a particular kind of contemporary architecture. An architecture of boxes and their jali like wrappers. Somehow very Japanese too.

NOTE: The Hunting Wajima Project is mentioned in a previous post: https://campaignprojects.wordpress.com/2015/02/06/hunting-wajima-project/

In the current phase of the project I am building on a proposition – Slatted Constructions (as posted here https://campaignprojects.wordpress.com/2015/09/06/slatted-constructions/). I want to design a furniture collection that does two things:
1. It explores the notion of slatted construction as a program, a way of building furniture.
2. It explores the typology of Japanese wood work as a source of inspiration and as a text to write into the program of Slatted Constructions.

The exploration of Japanese wood work has brought me to Kyoto, the home of and location of traditional wood work practice in Japan. I am looking not at the hard and pushy furniture products such as what I been seeing in the furniture shops and the traditional wood working Kojos. I am yet to see something inspiring. A few days ago I visited a workshop making extremely expensive (1 million Yen and above, or 10,000$ and above) furniture. Drawer units and tables. Very refined work but it left me untouched. I was excited to see the use of the elaborate traditional joints, but apart from that I was left cold by the obsessive pyrotechnics, excessive finish and shiny polish. I was looking for the rustic the natural and the truly old. So I have set out to document the marginal and forgotten. Pieces of wooden craftsmanship that are natural and light. The photographs here are some examples from that documentation.

Today I came up with the elements of a language – a typology of components:
Legs: I am documenting the forms of legs, especially that of low tables.
Endings: I am looking at the way members end, often flat but every now and then differently such as with a taper
Sizes: I am looking carefully at the sizes of linear elements, I am looking at the cross sections of the timber.
Intersections & Crossings: I am looking at how the linear elements continue beyond the intersections, for a bit more.
Lattice forms: I am looking at lattice form – the grid – which is more often a composition mainly of vertical slats.
Joins: I am looking at the way joins are formed.
Key wedge: I am understanding how the wedge in the joint helps the furniture achieve No nails/ No glue

I then had a thought today that CAD and CNC could be played with to sculpt the linear elements. The joints still occurring in the precise rectilinear locations.

I am doing some photography and also collecting images in Pinterest. You can see my collections and resources in the links below.

Japanese Joinery: https://www.pinterest.com/explore/japanese-joinery/
Kyoto: https://www.pinterest.com/faintvoice/kyoto/
Japanese bamboo Crafts: https://www.pinterest.com/faintvoice/japanese-bamboo-crafts/
Reimagining Nature: https://www.pinterest.com/faintvoice/wajima-forms/
Inspirational woodwork: https://www.pinterest.com/faintvoice/hunting-wajima/

A great Japanese and Japanese inspired furniture board: https://www.pinterest.com/rich_deboer/japanese-furniture-and-sculptures/

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Soumitri Varadarajan

Soumitri lives in Melbourne, Australia - #probonodesign #codesign #sustainability #patientexperience #quantifiedself #mdg

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