In 1997 our company developed its first chair: Libra.
Fukuyama City and Fuchu City in Hiroshima has long been known as an area which supplies newlywed furniture for the whole country. Around 1995 we received a request from the Bingo local industry promotion center and had the opportunity to consider the designs and trends of product design for a new generation with several furniture companies in the Fukuyama and Fuchu areas. At the time we worked with young Japanese designers from outside our company developing a variety of furniture. Rather than creating original products, it was more like the designers was simply developing and producing chairs, tables, and sofas to their own designs. Of all the companies we worked with, we selected a single chair factory to create what became the first chair developed by our company. Around two years passed and the chair was completed in 1999. For the 17 years following we have continued to produce that same chair — The Libra — with almost no changes
This chair went through many processes before completion. We drew a simple diagram, faxed it to the factory, and got the result back a few months later. The chair we got back was completely different from what we had envisioned and wasn’t something we could have sold. We called the manager at the factory (now the president) and were on our way to Hiroshima the next day. The words that the manager said to us then have molded the way we think about creation ever since.
It was the weekend and the manager said, “Just use the workshop as you like. Make the chair you want to make with your own two hands”. Until then we’d never even thought of making furniture ourselves and were quite bewildered. However, after a while, we’d managed to sketch out a single rear leg and stile on a 90×180 cm plywood board with a pencil and metal rule, followed by the backrest and front leg. Then, with a helping hand from the manager, we cut the shape out of the plywood and using those cut pieces as a guide, machined the parts out of solid wood. Although the manager helped us with almost every step of the process, for someone who has never made anything with their own two hands, at that moment we learned first-hand the potential of wood and the difficulty in creating a simple chair, as well as the pleasure one can find in crafting something. That was the true beginning of our path to crafting.
In the nearly 20 years since we have tried remodeling and making minor changes many times, but thanks to the previous experience with the manager, even as the world changes, I think we will continue with the same basic creation method as always. Although we usually use a distinctive wood seat frame for our products, we don’t show it as the whole seat is covered with upholstery on this chair. That is the method exactly as it was almost 20 years ago. Additionally, for the backrest, most of the chairs we produce use solid natural wood but the Libra uses pressed plywood. This too is a continuation of the methods and materials used since the first announcement. They say times and trends come in cycles. A chair from almost 20 years ago once again carries an air of freshness. This chair tells of the strength of things that could only be created in those days past.