Asobi Design Studio has recently made a name for itself with its furniture and lighting products that reveal the unique harmony of traditional Japanese craftsmanship and modern technology.
Interview by Ummuhan Kazanc
Dear Akira Hasegawa, before you talk about your wonderful products, can you briefly introduce yourself?
Asobi is a design studio with only four employees that launched the Tokyo brand in 2011 intending to offer something clean, modern, and beautiful. We are young and modern people who are passionate about beautiful and cool design in everything from wristwatches to cars to architecture and furniture. Life (and our creations in it) should be beautiful.
You express that Tokyo is a contemporary design brand with a focus on high-tech products for today's thinking people with an eye on the future. Can you explain your design philosophy in detail?
The philosophy is a combination of traditional Japanese craftsmanship and modern technology working together in perfect harmony. We are inspired by this idea, this understated but eye-catching look, attention to detail, beauty, and also the functionality. It's incredible how effortlessly they do it, and we wanted to be the same. Bold, but sophisticated; loud, but quiet; modern, but timeless.
How many product groups do you have?
The Tokyo family now consists of six groups: Carbon Light, TRI Light, Carbon Claro, Isle Lounge, Totem, and Mori. All were developed in-house with the same vision: Timelessness.
I am impressed with your lighting groups. Especially the TRI Light and the Totem series. What is the secret of the TRI Light's success? And can you tell us about the perfect triangular tile honeycomb design?
Thank you very much. Inspired by Japanese Shoji design, we developed a triangular module that allows us to construct an organic shape (using our proprietary software tool), so we can find a perfect solution for everyone. It can be a table lamp, a wine tasting lamp, a patio lamp, or an elevator lamp. The white shell mimics the paper of shoji shades and radiates warmth. And the inside is again our electronic development, where you can adjust the lamp's tunable white - with a remote control or by tablet/phone. All of this is an amazing sculpture of timeless design with today's technology.
The Carbon Light floor lamp series reminds me of unnamed aircraft or drones. You know it's there, but you don't feel it because it blends in perfectly with its surroundings. What can you say about this product group?
Yes, it is barely visible but strong in design and lighting. It's not easy to pack so much content into such a small product. The Carbon floor lamp is part of the Carbon Light product group, which complements each other - it is a typical Tokyo product that exudes minimalism, clean design, and always belonging.
I think Mori is very great. It's a special design. What can you tell us about the design philosophy of this product?
Mori means forest in Japanese - where the random pattern of nature brings harmony to our view. Since the trees are almost all the same, the forest is random, yet harmonious - that's the source of inspiration; and Mori still speaks to a clean and timeless design, providing space for the things that are important to you.
Finally, I'd like to talk about your iconic piece of furniture - the Isle Lounge. What do you think of this unusual design?
Isle Lounge is the design that laid the foundation for Tokyo. It was our first and boldest step into the realm of high-end furniture, and we wanted it to be completely original, unique, and meaningful. As simple as it may look, it is thoughtful, clever, and also very comfortable. It's certainly a statement piece, an object that can stand alone in a room and give it value. Made from one piece of carbon fiber, you can almost call it a sculpture while still carrying Tokyo's vision: clean, modern, timeless, wow.