260 Japan-made chairs used in U.N. chamber

Kyodo

The newly renovated Trusteeship Council at the U.N. headquarters is using 260 chairs made in Yamagata Prefecture.

Asahi Sofu Manufacturing Co. was asked to make the armchairs, which will be used by delegates in the multipurpose chamber.

Denmark, working with the United Nations, is overseeing the renovation, maintaining the tradition of the room’s original design by famed Danish architect Finn Juhl.

A Danish company, Onecollection, approached Asahi Sofu several years ago, said Kazushi Suzuki, its director of design and development.

“I was very proud when I was offered this work, I wondered if it was real,” Suzuki said. “I think it is great that we got a chance to have a fine and sincere (example) of craftsmanship from Japan that can be seen by many people.”

Since none of the original chairs were available, the company had only a drawing to rely on.

Artisans eventually re-created the sleekly designed wooden armchairs with light blue and navy upholstery.

One of the biggest challenges, Suzuki said, was hand-sewing the fabric onto the back to give it a handcrafted look, rather than using a machine.

Ivan Hansen, managing director of the Danish company, which has the sole rights to make and market Juhl’s furniture, praised the craftsmanship and has collaborated with the firm on other projects in the past six years.

“They have a very, very high level of furniture cabinet maker industry in Japan,” he said, adding that it is often difficult to find that level in his own country. “It is not a price issue, it is a quality issue.”

Diplomats such as Jette Michelsen of Denmark expect to use the chairs for long meetings.