The TORINOKO Project – Interview: Martin Schechinger

The Torinoko Project started for whiteID Integrated Design with quite a special “briefing”. At a chance meeting at an exhibition in 2014 with Yamatoya, a Japanese manufacturer of children’s wooden furniture, it became clear that the understanding of good furniture design is in harmony! You can probably describe this initial, unplanned discussion as the foundation of the successful co-operation.

Today, in the spring of 2017, Yamatoya is presenting the new range under the Torinoko brand name, and whiteID Integrated Design has asked its own staff what they think about this special project.

Senior Designer at whiteID since 2008

The team at whiteID works a great deal with international clients, for example, from Norway or Spain. Were there any features peculiar to working with a Japanese manufacturer?
MARTIN: Yes, there certainly were. Contrary to European understanding of living spaces and homes and their furnishings, which can vary greatly, Japanese understanding can differ quite strongly from European culture in the detail. As a German, you first have to empathise. Many homes today still have a room with the traditional ‘tatami’ floor. People sleep on this on a rolled-out mattress. There are no bedsteads in such rooms. Or the matter of storage: Cupboard solutions as a built-in cupboard are, in fact, part of the architecture as a freestanding piece of furniture.

What were the most important requirements in terms of the design of the range of the furniture?
MARTIN: I think that is bringing together the potential of European and Japanese furniture. That naturally also meant getting to know a traditional Japanese firm and its local manufacturing opportunities. Yamatoya is already being successfully managed by the third generation. Yamatoya is developing from the manufacturer of small and children’s furniture also to become a supplier of living solutions for adolescents and young adults with the joint project. It goes without saying that it was good for us to be involved in such a step in the company’s development.

What was the greatest challenge about handling this project?
MARTIN: The aesthetic demands of parents to reconcile the quite simple practical requirements of everyday for children’s furniture and with children’s taste. That was presumably the greatest challenge. What we wanted to achieve was to create a lively, that is timeless design, which also works internationally, from this conflict area in which you can, nonetheless, see its cultural origin.

What did not you enjoy most about handling this project?

Working through the entire development process from the concept, searching for design ideas, the design details and the communication between all those involved – that was run principally through me. For me, it was particularly interesting to see the impact the project has on the Yamatoya brand. Yamatoya has been a supplier of furniture for children and small children until now. For example, children’s high chairs – good solutions for the tiniest members of the family and their parents. Now Yamatoya is supporting the next generation for longer with the new Torinoko furniture. From the child’s bedroom into the room of the adolescent, so to speak, and even beyond. I find that a beautiful and enduring thought!

Many thanks Martin!

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