Enzo Mari Designs Furniture From Sustainable Sugi


President Sanzo Okada of Hida Sangyo at Enzo Mori's Giulie table

For a thousand years, the craftsmen in the Hida-Takayama region of Japan have been working with Sugi, building temples and shrines of this soft, light wood. Most of the Sugi forests were destroyed in World War II, and it took 50 years for the replanted forests to reach maturity. Now 13% of Japan is covered in Sugi forests, and it has to be managed.

Sanzo Okada, President of Hida Sangyo, a 90 year old furniture maker, looked at this supply of Sugi and tried to put this local resource to use. They figured out a way to compress the wood, which made it harder and increased its durability. To eliminate waste they started using knotted wood instead of throwing it away.

Shown here is a seat base of uncompressed wood, and one where the shape of the seat has been pressed right into the wood, reducing its thickness by 25%. Having figured out the technology to make durable furniture from Sugi,

President Okada began a collaboration with Italian designer Enzo Mari, who created a line of furniture with references to traditional Japanese design mixed with clean, modern lines.

Scaloni is a storage unit based on tradtional under-stair storage.


Every part of the system is designed to minimize waste. These two chairs are made from the same mould; they are just cut out differently. The waste cut-offs are used to run the steamers for bending wood, making the process carbon-neutral.

Enzo Mari said "For me, each design must be utilitarian, functional and do justice to the materials used as well as those involved in making them." In this world of CNC cut flatpack furniture, There is something sensual about running one's hands over wood that was turned into furniture with such care, using local craftsmen and local materials. mix those skills with a designer like Enzo Mari and the results are interesting indeed. ::Hida Sangyo

Tags: Furniture | Japan