Time & Style Factory

Time & Style Factory was established in 2008 in Higashikawa, in Hokkaido, the northmost island of Japan. Our team of approximately 30 craftsmen carefully hand-finishes each one of the ordered items. We are the only company in Japan that purchases saws and dries Hokkaido-grown timber in-house. We use traceability techniques to manage our timber and ensure the legality of the material used for our furniture and other interior products.

Initiatives

In-house procurement

Our logs are obtained from the forests of Hokkaido and Tohoku regions. These forests, situated between 43° and 45° north latitude, are home to broad-leaved and coniferous trees. To ensure stable quality and costs, we purchase directly from municipal forest owners, university research forests, and privately owned forests managed by local governments.

Face-to-face relationships with our producers allow us to obtain quality feedback and information regarding the supplied materials while participating long-term in on-site tree planting and forest management. 

Domestic timber and energy

We procure logs from rich-grained tree varieties with ages ranging from 80-200 years. Tree varieties include oak, Japanese ash, birch, cherry, elm, broadleaf, and the coniferous Sakhalin fir and Yezo spruce. 

Many of these are either bent logs that are not traded on the general market or forked logs with many branches. Such logs have a short lifespan and are destined for use as biomass fuel or pulp. We actively purchase such domestic logs and aim to manufacture products that can be used for over a century.


Tree age measurement

Our staff counts the growth rings of each log we procure. The logs are then naturally dried for about a year and a half. After drying, we use our proprietary traceability evaluation to determine such details as the log’s place of origin, age, and size. 

How many products can be produced from a single log? Do such products give back to those working in forestry and manufacturing? Do the process and craft avoid waste and consider the environment? Have CO2 emissions been estimated? By asking such questions and measuring tree age, we seek to revolutionize existing fundamental manufacturing methods.

Adoption of low-temperature biomass drying

Wood cannot be used unless it is dried. Typically, wood is first naturally dried (for about two years in a natural outdoor environment). Then, it is forcibly dried (in artificial conditions of approximately 80°C) to make the material suitable for furniture or construction.

In 2018, we began using an original artificial drying method that uses low-temperature biomass drying at 40°C. We reevaluated the idea that wood should be quickly and efficiently dried at high temperatures in an artificial, forced manner.

Instead, we chose to return to a more “primitive” construction method that involves “slow aging at low temperatures.” In today’s world, where efficiency is critical, one reason to consider such a time axis is the existence of the oldest wooden building in the world—Japan’s Horyuji Temple. The temple’s 1400-year-old columns and structures maintain their quality to this day.

In terms of rigidity, tenacity, flexibility, and constriction, the method used for the temple’s construction continues to be the best method available. We believe in the need for incorporating lessons from the past in refining the craftsmanship of the future.

Bringing back hand-processing tools and techniques:
the Time & Style Meister System (vocational training system)

We aim to be the kind of factory, one rarely found in the world today, which uses the tools and techniques of traditional handmade Japanese craftsmanship. To acquire the Japanese skills and techniques necessary to create furniture and interior spaces, in 2020, we established our in-house woodworking technology research institute. The institute helps all our craftsmen acquire national examination and trade skill certifications. Furthermore, in pursuit of world-class education, we established our Time & Style Meister System, which seeks to develop “craftsmanship leaders” that can pioneer the future of the furniture and interior furnishings industry.

The Time & Style Meister System applies to young craftsmen (up to 24 of age). It uses the government-financed job-skills program (technical training schools) and applies for the first two years after joining the company. For others, we also provide opportunities for after-work in-house training to help them with certification examinations. 

 

In 2014, Shuhei Otani (our current factory manager) won a gold medal in the WorldSkills Olympics Cabinet Making category. In 2019, Tsukasa Kurahashi followed with another gold medal in the same category. The same year, Haruna Seinan also won a bronze medal in the Joinery category. Riku Yoshida, a first-year employee, plans to represent Japan at the 46th WorldSkills Competition (Shanghai, China) in October 2022. We are also focusing on the training of young artisans and the transfer of technical expertise.

A return to organic and traditional finishing methods

When providing the final finish to our products, we are careful to use sustainable and naturally derived organic methods. We do so because we researched the effects of certain substances on the human body and hormones. Also, many products on the market today use “greenwashing” techniques that piggyback on awareness of environmental problems. We will continue researching and monitoring our products to avoid adverse effects on the environment, animals, or the human body.

 

Sustainability and safety testing

In pursuit of sustainable development and longevity, we perform strict proprietary endurance and repeated-strength testing on our products. Ensuring that our products are strong and safe enough to use indefinitely is a core part of our company philosophy. 

We seek to design products that fulfill the “trinity” of good design, functional beauty, and durability. For example, we apply pressure of 950 newtons (96.9 kg) to the seat surface, and 330 newtons (33.7 kg) to the chair back repeated 100,000 times for our chair durability testing. We believe putting products through such rigorous testing helps contribute to a sustainable society. We see it as necessary for the achievement of sustainable manufacturing.

Warranty, repair, maintenance, and reuse

Until now, most economic activity has been in mass production and mass consumption, where energy is extracted from the natural world to make used and discarded products. This has brought global warming and problems with waste disposal, resource depletion, and resource conflict. It has also created globally marginalized regions collectively known as the “Global South.”

From 2023, we would like to begin offering a “lifetime warranty” for our original products. To that end, we have imposed three conditions on our product development.

 

1. The product should have a repairable structure.

2. The product should be as easy as possible to maintain on one’s own.

3. All products should use biodegradable materials that return to the earth. 

 

As outlined in Sustainable Development Goal 12 (On the 17 Sustainable Development Goals established by the United Nations in 2015), the lifetime warranty aims to consider “responsible consumption and production” and respond to the rich suggestions provided by international task criteria. Also, if the customer wishes to dispose of a product, we will collect the product in-house and promote the reuse of the product itself or its constituent parts and materials.

 

 

Climate-neutral manufacturing
with the goal of zero fossil fuel use

Wood chips produced during manufacturing are made into solid fuel with dimensions of Ø 100 mm and t 50 mm. The fuel is made with a compressor called a “briquette machine.” In the Hokkaido winter, where temperatures reach -20°C, briquette fuel made from the final life force of wood material can be put to a noble end—lighting wood stoves and heating rooms. By 2030, we will reduce our fossil fuel consumption to zero, operating our factory fully on renewable energy. We are keenly aware of our status as both creators and passengers of Spaceship Earth. 

Municipal and industry-academia-government collaboration

Higashikawa Town in Hokkaido, known as a “photography town,” has designated April 14 as “Chair Day. Forty percent of the town’s population is involved in wood manufacturing, furniture, and woodworking, and the town produces about 30 percent of Asahikawa’s furniture. In addition, the city has established Japan’s first design museum with the Oda Collection by Kenji Oda as its primary collection. 

In Higashikawa, we will continue to exist as a company with roots in the community, producing chairs and desks for children at Higashikawa Elementary School.

In Higashikawa, we will continue to exist as a company with roots in the community, producing chairs and desks for children at Higashikawa Elementary School. 

Also, in partnership with the town of Nakagawa and Hokkaido University, we aim to collaborate with local governments, sharing our knowhow to promote new ways of working, “workcations,” outdoor styles, internal migration, and regional revitalization via the high-quality hardwoods and conifers that grow in various parts of Hokkaido. 

In Higashikawa, Hokkaido, which is known as a photography town, we established Chair Day, celebrated on April 14. The town produces about 30% of Asahikawa city’s furniture, and 40% of the town’s population is engaged in timber production, furniture, or woodworking. Furthermore, in pursuit of the idea of “photography and furniture town Higashigawa,” we have established the first design museum in Japan centered on the Oda Collection by Noritsugu Oda. 

In Higashikawa, we will continue to exist as a company with roots in the community, producing chairs and desks for children at Higashikawa Elementary School. 

Also, in partnership with the town of Nakagawa and Hokkaido University, we aim to collaborate with local governments, sharing our knowhow to promote new ways of working, “workcations,” outdoor styles, internal migration, and regional revitalization via the high-quality hardwoods and conifers that grow in various parts of Hokkaido. 

Collaboration with architects and creators

We have established a mock-up room in our factory which allows visitors to experience the processes and products—in the form of hotels and living spaces—produced by architects and interior designers active around the world. The room features names such as Kuma Kengo, Sou Fujimoto, and Tsuyoshi Tane. Experience sensations that CG or VR cannot capture: the tactile feel of the material on one’s fingers, the physicality of sitting in comfort, and the shadows of natural light spread out upon the space.

Wood and factory acquisition certifications

The FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) is a global certification system. The SGEC (Sustainable Green Ecosystem Council) applies to domestic forests.

At the Time & Style Factory, to export domestically certified materials overseas, we will, in addition to our own developed domestic rules, acquire factory acquisition certification by 2023 so that customers in Japan and abroad can purchase our products with peace of mind.

Time & Style Factory

4-13-2 Kitamachi, Higashikawa-cho, Kamikawa-gun, Hokkaido