Karimoku Case Study

Frederik Werner on the launch of Norm Architects’ new furniture collaboration during Copenhagen’s 3 Days Of Design.

As part of 3 Days of Design 2019, the Kinfolk Gallery was transformed into a contemporary apartment setting for the launch of furniture and lifestyle brand Karimoku Case Study. Merging the simple Japanese design aesthetics of furniture makers Karimoku with the work of Copenhagen’s local creative scene, the inaugural collection was produced by the Danish design firm Norm Architects and Tokyo-based designer Keiji Ashizawa. Although the pieces felt readily at home dotted around the Kinfolk Gallery, they were initially designed for a very different setting: two newly renovated apartments in Kinuta, Tokyo.

What inspired the collaboration with Karimoku?

We met Keiji Ashizawa during a workshop in Southern Japan. He introduced us to the Karimoku team and got us involved with the Kinuta apartment project in Tokyo. The brand takes its name from the Case Study program of the mid-20th century, and with it we wish to investigate the potential for approaching furniture design holistically, using only natural materials.

How did you translate all of that into an exhibition?

We created a laid-back, contemporary apartment setting, with a living room, office space, library and dining area. We wanted the exhibition to embody a sense of calm; to be a warm and inviting space composed of materials and aesthetics that would all elevate one another and encourage guests to investigate them. It was very intentional that we displayed the furniture pieces and artworks in a serene environment above Copenhagen’s busiest shopping street—we wanted to draw a parallel to the environment of the Kinuta terrace apartments in the chaotic city of Tokyo, which is the native setting for the pieces.

Did shared design traditions influence your collaboration with Keiji Ashizawa?

Keiji lives in Tokyo and knows the city well. He’s familiar with its culture and traditions. More than anything, however, we share an appreciation of nature in our lives and the things we surround ourselves with. He believes, as do we, that introducing quality natural materials into our homes significantly enhances our quality of life.

Did exhibition visitors interact with the furniture pieces the way you had hoped they would?

We hoped people would find a sanctuary in the space, and I think we succeeded! Some would sit down with a book and enjoy an unhurried moment away from their hectic design week agenda.

What are the most interesting things you learned so far from your visits to Karimoku production facilities in Japan?

It’s truly reassuring to witness a massive manufacturer like Karimoku care so greatly for their work and craft. As a family-run business, they honor their history and uphold a shared goal of creating high quality, sustainable furniture pieces that last.

Karimoku Case Study exhibited at The Kinfolk Gallery in June 2018 during 3 Days of Design.

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