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The Urchin Leg Stool
Our love for design led us to commission a unique chair inspired by, and for, Rishiri. The most designed piece in all of Rishiri?
Hey, I’m Casey. Thanks for reading our newsletter, sharing the startup journey of Kamui Whisky K.K. We’ve been busy, but when we aren’t overwhelmed, we’ll share a story as we craft up a whisky distillery on a remote, volcanic island in the most northern part of Japan.
Design runs through everything we do at Kamui. We’ve a deep desire to craft the finest whisky, of course, but that desire extends to everything around the whisky as well, to make everything deeply thought out, and beautiful.
When you study design, think about it, work on it, it seems all roads lead to … chairs. Especially if you’ve approached from an architectural direction.
Why chairs? Probably because everyone uses them. They are every day objects. A part of our life. They have to be functional. There are limitations, boundaries. At the end of the day it still has to be a chair. But they can, and should, be beautiful. With a reason and a purpose that enriches the function. It’s a design challenge.
So that’s what we’ve done. We’ve had our own original chair designed. By the architect who designed and constructed our distillery, Shoji Azuma.
The Urchin Leg Stool / ウニ脚の椅子
The stools for our bar area are a completely original design. Inspired by, and for, Rishiri.
Designed by: Shoji Azuma, Architect
Name: The Urchin Leg Stool
JP Name: ウニ脚の椅子
An Original Rishiri Design
The design spec from Azuma-san:
Viewed from the bottom you can see the sea urchin inspiration:
In His Words (日本語で)
In Japanese (日本語):
In English, in the tone of reading his high school homework 🤭
The Thoughts and Feelings of the Design
Highlights from a brief interviewwith Azuma-san about the design of The Urchin Leg Stool:
I wanted to find a very nice chair for the distillery, but nothing fit the height of the counter, or everything that did was very high price if you required a nice design.
I believed I could design a chair without a high cost. The bottom parts are plywood, so cheap. Making the legs an “L” shape make it strong. Making just a straight leg can be quite weak for plywood.
Forming the legs into an “L” shape means they can be quite narrow.
A stool needs a minimum 3 legs. Most office stools have 5 legs these days, for balance and firmness. So I started thinking about 5 legs. The number “5”, the “L” shape of each leg, that stuck in my mind. I started to think about 雲丹 (sea urchins).
The top is about natural wood, from Hokkaido. To make it beautiful.
The bottom is about cheap minimal parts.
Overall, the design is something that expresses Rishiri. That was the goal.
The initial reaction around Rishiri, for those that have seen it, and Asahikawa, famous for wood design, is that it’s a very cool looking chair.
Did you ever want to make a chair?
Chairs are very difficult. Many stories about famous chairs seem “made up,” kind of background fluff, a story that is a lie. They try to make it seem complex to create a deep story. I felt designing a chair is simpler than that.
Other than this chance with Kamui I wouldn’t have had the chance to make a chair.
Famous Japanese Architects that have made chairs, Ando-san, Tange-san, others, at that level if they do it everyone moves for you, but for me, I have to move to make things happen. Tange-san designed a church close to my house, there are beautiful chairs in there. I can imagine what was thought as they were designed. Imaging what the designers thoughts while creating a chair has been with me.
A Special Offer
If you come visit us, visit the bar, and say these exact words: “I love the Urchin Leg Stool that Azuma-san designed,” a free tastingis on me.
Be a part of our love for design, our love for Rishiri. Come visit, sit in the original Urchin Leg Stool, say the words.
Also recently ran for city council in Shinjuku. If you live there give him your vote next time.
Simultaneously translated from Japanese. All errors in translation and nuance are mine.
Valid until the end of 2023. A tasting of 神居原酒. Only 1 per group.