In Focus | KOYORI
At Edit '22 last year, we hosted the UK launch of KOYORI. The entirely new Japanese brand presents high-caliber, beautifully crafted furniture sourced through a collective of manufacturers across Japan, bringing together specialist craftsmanship and manufacturing technology for each design. KOYORI thoughtfully navigates simplicity, commitment and perfectionism.
Their inaugural collection of seating designs includes work by Ronan + Erwan Bouroullec and Danish-Italian design duo GamFratesi, with further brand identity consultation from Jasper Morrison and Sebastian Fehr.
The name KOYORI references the durable twisted washi-paper cords used in Mizuhiki, a traditional decorative art; the ornate knots used for wrapping ceremonial or festive gifts. KOYORI elegantly references the company's intention to fuse Japanese craftsmanship with international design.
French designers Ronan + Erwan Bouroullec have created three new chair designs for KOYORI, seeking to reveal the beauty of wood and craftsmanship and how the two intersect while also showcasing the meticulous precision of Japanese manufacturing.
The clean yet flowing lines of the Kawara armchair cite Sori Yanagi's iconic Butterfly stool. The seemingly simple form gently cocoons the sitter with three-dimensional curves, the backrest, arms, and seat crafted using different plywood moulds, each element seamlessly joining its cylindrical legs.
Available in a series of finishes, an upholstered version is also offered.
The sculptural form of the Musubi armchair is achieved using a combination of carving, wood-bending, and 5-axis CNC cutting techniques to create the organic components. The chair is characterised by unique indentations between the backrest and arms, and armrests and legs, offering the appearance of light connectivity as those the elements float together.
‘This chair is inspired by the feeling I had when I touched the arm of a “Yanagi” chair by Sori Yanagi for the very first time,’
Available in matte black beech or natural oak.
The compact, seemingly simple Shaku chair creates the illusion that the curved backrest emerges from the contoured seat, a design feature accomplished through extensive modeling with precision processing and assembly. The dynamic chair is available in beech with a black urethane finish.
Photography: Alberto Parise
Stine Gam and Enrico Fratesi of the design studio GamFratesi have created two new chairs for KOYORI. Taking creative drive from the fusion of tradition with experimentation, the dual-heritage pair have sought to reinterpret classic Danish design through the Miau Armchair. The armchair combines precision wood bending and carving techniques to produce an inviting seat with a feline motif. The light form organically curves around the body, the arms and backrest sculpted from a single, jointless bentwood; this line echoed in the three-dimensional contour of the seat.
Available in oak or walnut with optional upholstery.
Coming soon: Edaha
The second, soon-to-be-released design by GamFratesi is Edaha - its name derived from the Japanese 'eda-ha', meaning branch and leaf. The chair's frame (or branch) gently supports the leaf-like seat, both components made entirely of plywood. The chair is both architectural in its structure whilst conveying the beauty of nature.
Congratulations to KOYORI, whose first collection has been awarded the prestigious Wallpaper* Design Award 2023 in the category for Best Seating.
The winners of the Wallpaper* Design Awards 2023 are showcased in their February edition, a list of which can be viewed here.
Koda Munetoshi, Executive Director of KOYORI kindly agreed to speak to us, to offer further insight into the award-winning brand.
2021: How did Koyori come to be established?
KM: There are many furniture manufacturers in Japan, but only a few of them have been able to establish their brands in overseas markets. Although many manufacturers in Japan have excellent manufacturing capabilities, it is very challenging to expand their products overseas, partially due to the lack of necessary know-how and language skills.
KOYORI formed an alliance built together by some leading manufacturers from across Japan, together with a specialized trading company with expertise in branding, marketing, logistics, language support, and design strategy to introduce Japanese manufacturing to the world in the best possible way.
We also wanted to showcase the profoundness of Japanese manufacturing through this new project. Japan has many different regions, each with its own history, and therefore different in manufacturing specialties. We thought that it would be great if we could represent all such unique characteristics of each manufacturer as one big brand.
Considering the scale of individual Japanese furniture manufacturers, it was clear that it would be very difficult for a single furniture manufacturer to expand their market overseas. That is how we came up with the idea of forming an alliance with several leading Japanese furniture manufacturers to create a fresh, new brand.
2021: Koyori unites a host of skilled manufacturers and craftsmen across Japan. Can you explain as to how you select your manufacturing partners and what kind of challenges does this present?
KM: There are countless manufacturers and workshops in Japan. Among them, we try to collaborate with top-notch manufacturers who are skilled and possess the manufacturing techniques that unfortunately could not open their business overseas, due to lack of know-how and language skills. We also try to find different manufacturers with different techniques. For instance, we began our brand with two wooden furniture manufacturers, and one of them is a leading manufacturer of plywood, and the other is skilled, especially in bending wood. That is the reason why when you find the chairs designed by both designers, they take a totally different approach and that’s what’s interesting about a brand being an alliance.
The challenges might be that there are different traditions in both manufacturers, as they both have over 80 years of experience in the field, and having always been the top in furniture manufacturing. But it is a necessary process to learn from and respect each other, and above all, we were grateful for the manufacturer's development team being very positive throughout the development. So have been the designers, needless to say.
2021: How did you begin your working relationship with Ronan + Erwan Bouroullec and GamFratesi?
KM: I have been in the overseas export business for over a decade, and enjoyed getting to know people and becoming friends. So I knew Ronan for quite some years, and respected his talent in always trying to create new and innovative products. When I visited Paris during my business trip, I spoke to Ronan about this project, and he was very eager to join the project.
We contacted GamFratesi because we believed the Danish-Italian duo were experts in “re-design”. There were also innovative in mixing and adding values, tradition, and creative beautiful objects. Also, because they are both originally from countries with wooden manufacturing traditions.
Then all the alliance members agree to collaborate with the designers, and the developments have started.
2021: Congratulations on the recent ‘Best seats’ Wallpaper award, to this point Koyori has focused on chairs, do you plan to launch designs in other typologies?
KM: Thank you. We plan to launch tables of which samples were exhibited at Triennial last June.
2021: What are KOYORI’s objectives with regard to sustainability?
KM: In terms of sustainability, in addition to creating products that last for a long period of time, we try to ensure that our production and delivery processes are sustainable and help us become the leading brand with a culture of transparency. To establish carbon footprint transparency, we measure the carbon footprint generated by our products and the results is published on our website.
2021: What’s next for the Koyori, will you be exhibiting in Milan or any other international shows in 2023?
KM: For the next exhibitions, I’m afraid there is nothing we can reveal at this moment but hope to be able to give you information in February. For the future of KOYORI, we would like to expand our product range to interior accessories and objects and become a lifestyle brand.
Many thanks to Koda Munetoshi, we look forward to seeing what KOYORI does next.
The first seating collection is available to view exclusively in the UK at twentytwentyone.
Ronan + Erwan Bouroullec