Hide and seek: new looks for the Japanese leather industry

Although Japanese leatherwork predates the Edo period (1603-1868), it is not at the top of the list of Japanese-made crafts known to the world. Nevertheless, despite the star power lacking, the country still has significant leather manufacturing centers, mainly in Hyogo Prefecture and Tokyo, most of which produce high-end items for the fashion and clothing industries. inside. On: Design takes a look at three products that debuted last month at the Designart festival and are rethinking leather in contemporary design.

M&T design studio’s LFM (Leather Fiber Molding) desk organizers and trinket trays are made from factory leather waste that has been shredded into fibers and molded into unusual three-dimensional shapes. | AYAKO ENDO

Mold new ideas

The most unusual of this month’s trio is the line of desk organizers and trinket trays from Tokyo-based design unit, M&T, each a three-dimensional sculptural work that would be impossible to achieve from of conventional leather sheets.

To create these minimalist architectural pieces, Miyu Ikeda and Takuko Kurashima of M&T use a process they call LFM (Leather Fiber Molding) to reuse scraps of leather into a new moldable textile.

The production of soft leather for fashion and interiors involves lightening the skins by removing the bottom layers. Some diapers are made from different types of leather, including suede, but the lowest drop, which is too unstable to use, is usually thrown away. M&T collects this waste from the tanneries of Sumida Ward, the Tokyo leather processing center, and pulverizes it into fibers, which are then moistened with a mixture of natural rubber and water before being pressed into molds to form unique.

The process leaves an interesting rawhide texture to the sculptural works, to which M&T has chosen not to add pigment. Instead, they created an LFM color palette by mixing the hues of the original scrap material used.

The LFM line is not yet priced, but will be available for purchase at upcoming exhibitions, including the Roppongi Imagination Market at Cultural Synthesis: The Module Roppongi, November 22-28. Keep an eye on the M&T website for more details.

http://mandt.design/lfm

Designed by Johnny Chiu for use as an outdoor piece of furniture, the Bloom Chair is made from Kobe leather, a by-product of Kobe beef, processed and processed by Studio Kiichi and made by furniture maker Ryosuke Nagata Shoten.  |  KYOSYU MIZOHATA
Designed by Johnny Chiu for use as an outdoor piece of furniture, the Bloom Chair is made from Kobe leather, a by-product of Kobe beef, processed and processed by Studio Kiichi and made by furniture maker Ryosuke Nagata Shoten. | KYOSYU MIZOHATA

Flowery leather

Leather upholstery has long been a mainstay of luxury furniture, but the lavish circular Bloom chair by Taiwanese architect Johnny Chiu, designed in collaboration with the Kobe Leather guild, takes textiles to a whole new level of design. .

First, the leather used is a by-product of the Japanese Kobe beef industry, a rarely used resource that is not only limited to 500 hides per year, but is also difficult to process. Second, the design does not involve using leather as the covering, but it is the main material, and third, the chair was designed as luxury outdoor furniture, not as an indoor product.

Bloom focuses on the elasticity of Kobe leather, with Chiu’s honeycomb construction flexible enough to fold up for storage or transport. Behind the striking aesthetic lie months of tanning and dyeing by Kobe Leatherworkers’ Studio Kiichi, using a strengthening technique of sandwiching a layer of bioplastic between sheets of leather, and manufacturing by Ryosuke Nagata Shoten. , a furniture maker who was involved in the creation of architect Frank Lloyd. Wright’s interiors 100 years ago.

A tedious process involving artisans from Kobe, Bloom is expensive – around 3.44 million yen – and each chair can take up to a year to deliver. But what it does offer is a luxurious and eco-friendly leather piece, customizable in a color of your choice.

www.r-nagata.co.jp.

The minimalist shapes of Kitsuca bags, designed by Takashi Umekawa, are cut entirely from sheets of leather, with the holes in the handle being used to create matching pouches.
The minimalist shapes of Kitsuca bags, designed by Takashi Umekawa, are cut entirely from sheets of leather, with the holes in the handle being used to create matching pouches.

Shapes of things to come

Last month, Kitsuca, Takashi Umekawa’s design studio, launched its own brand of minimalist yet playful functional items, with the release of Outline, a series of flat, vegetable-tanned leather handbags.

Inspired by everyday objects and shapes, Kitsuca’s motto is curiously “less is more humor”. Its bags are based on basic shapes – a triangle, rectangle, and square – but have a fancy name after the contours of their handle holes: perfect circle, semi-circle, and oval.

Unlike many designer handbags, they are made from just two sheets of leather. The handle holes are cut out and there are no gussets – only darts at the bottom corners to give parts volume. Each Outline bag also includes a matching zippered pouch made from the pieces of leather removed to create the handles of the bag.

Now available online at Kitsuca’s own online store, Outline is available in brown and black and priced at 40,700 for the semi-circle and 41,800 for the perfect circle and oval, with an option to purchase. of single sachets at 7,840.

https://kitsuca.com

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