If you haven’t sorted out your loved one’s Valentine’s gift yet, On: Design this month has mined a few new ideas from Japan’s metalworking industry.
Getting off the hook
Nousaku has its roots in copper production, with a history that dates back more than 400 years. Still using the same traditional techniques, it now works with various metals to produce an expansive range of contemporary housewares, including a series of flexible tin items that have become design-store favorites.
Its new Lasso vases, designed by Satoshi Umeno, are also 100 percent tin, with each small vessel sporting a branch of three loops that bend over its water container.
As the name suggests, the loops lasso flower stems to hold them at whatever angle you choose to position them. They’re ideal for those who prefer minimal ikebana-style arrangements rather than a overflowing bunch, and their flexibility allows the blooms to stand more naturally.
There are three Lasso vases: Maru, with a circular base and loops; Kaku, which has a rectangular base and square loops; and the hexagonal Takaku.As the name suggests, the loops lasso flower stems to hold them at whatever angle you choose to position them. They’re ideal for those who prefer minimal ikebana-style arrangements rather than a overflowing bunch, and their flexibility allows the blooms to stand more naturally.
On a more entertaining level, Nousaku has also released a range of goods inspired by the endlessly popular cartoon character Doraemon, with whom, it turns out, it shares the hometown of Takaoka in Toyama Prefecture. There are several pieces, all using motifs from the mechanical cat’s escapades, but one of the cutest items is the Doraemon Hook.
This doesn’t even reveal Doraemon’s face, just his back and butt, rendered in a glossy, dark brass that contrasts with a bright scarlet bobble of a tail that doubles as a coat hook.
The Lasso vases are each priced at ¥7,020, while the Doraemon Hook is ¥6,264. All items can be found at the Nousaku online store.
Bright as a button
If you find yourself in an odoriferous situation but don’t want to make a big stink about it, Ishii Seiokou Co. Ltd. has come up with something that can offer some aromatic relief.
In a collaboration with Cement Produce Design — the creative team behind Trace Face cups, See Oh Ribbon bookmarks and other contemporary interior goods — the industrial-parts manufacturer has made its very first original product: the Alma Aroma Pin.
Designed to look like a jacket button, the Alma is a tiny aluminum container in which to store an essential-oil-soaked piece of cotton. The button’s holes in its snug-fitting cap allow the scent to escape, while the pin at the back turns it into a wearable accessory. Though a nifty and attractive design in itself, its diminutive size also makes it a smart way to show off the meticulous metalworking skills of Ishii Seiokou Co. Ltd., which has been producing mechanical and other parts for more than 50 years.
Available in five metallic colors (gold, silver, gray, blue and pink), the Alma Aroma Pin has a hairline-brushed finish, comes with seven cotton wads and costs ¥4,212 (essential oil is not included).
The brass ring
Supporting Japanese industry and promoting its monozukuri (highly skilled and honed) manufacturing philosophy is also one of the aims of contemporary artist Kaori Tazoe, who has designed the Small Factory Ring, a versatile ring set, for Yazawa Seisakusho’s new 830designlab creative platform.
Based in Tokyo’s Ota Ward, which is known for its small metal-processing factories, Yazawa Seisakusho specializes in precision parts, which Tazoe takes her inspiration from.
The Small Factory Ring set is composed of several pieces: a ring base and various attachable “jewels,” which take the form of screw heads and bearing balls. The ring bases have either one or two holes, so you can also screw in different combinations of heads.
Tazoe’s industrial aesthetic is a deliberate celebration of the ring’s origins, but it refreshingly veers toward Bauhaus simplicity rather than chaotic steampunk.
The Yazawa set of six heads and two ring parts is ¥29,700, while a single ring with three heads is ¥16,200. Both come in hairline-finished steel cases with resin display bases, and will be available online from mid-February. Keep an eye on the Yazawa Seisakusho website for more details.