Ancient craft meets new design hero

ANCIENT CRAFT MEETS NEW DESIGN

In the CRAFTED FOR LEXUS collection, time-tested craft and contemporary design come together to form a unique collection of goods. Two brand-new items have just joined the ever-growing range.
“We would love to see our handcrafted products become triggers for young people to gain interest in traditional crafts and in professions of craftsmanship,” explain Hiromichi Yumoto and Takefumi Momose of SEE SEE, a Japanese homewares brand specializing in the time-proven handcraft Hikimono. With roots going back to the Yayoi period, the art of Hikimono is concentrated in the Shizuoka prefecture where craftsmen like Momose and designers like Yumoto are collaborating to make round wooden vessels and bowls using spinning wheels and lathes. “Our brand delivers the quality that only a traditional, analog way of working can achieve. But each of our creations features a contemporary design that appeals to global trendsetters.”
Since launching the first CRAFTED FOR LEXUS collection in 2013, Lexus has made it its mission to bring history-rich yet contemporary quality crafts – such as the SEE SEE brand’s Hikimono objects – to the world. Celebrating a new generation of highly skilled master craftsmen, the line is made up of brand-exclusive lifestyle goods and reflects Lexus’ ongoing commitment to the finest in craftsmanship and design. The catalog includes artisan-made products from One Kiln earthenware and hand-woven shawls by Niime Tamaki, to minimalist Bsize desk lamps and hand-crafted Kaneko Optical sunglasses, with items sold and showcased at INTERSECT BY LEXUS in Tokyo, Dubai, and soon in the brand new New York space. Recently, a Hikimono spindle tray by SEE SEE joined the ever-growing line-up of Japanese wares.
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“When I started thinking about this project, I thought it would be interesting to make a Hikimono vessel based on one of the most important elements of Lexus: the spindle grille,” says Yumoto. So Yumoto (the design mind behind SEE SEE) and Momose (the craftsman, who even produces his own blades and machinery) went on to develop their special Hikimono spindle tray for CRAFTED FOR LEXUS.
The process behind crafting this unique wooden vessel consisted of Momose drawing a plan based on Yumoto’s design, then making a prototype and adjusting the size and wood carvings until they were both satisfied. “I tried hard to get the right depth of carving to reflect the beautiful lines of the spindle grille,” explains Momose. “In general, Hikimono only have carvings on one side, but our spindle tray has carvings both on the inside and the outside.”
The duo went on to work with tea-dyeing craftsmen to color the carved wooden tray in a deep black tone. The result beautifully highlights the individual proportions of the white ash wood that shine through the tea dye. “It was important to us to convey the luxury feeling that Lexus is famous for,” says Yumoto. “Hikimono feels less high-end because of the appearance of the wood grain; that’s why we introduced the technique of tea-dyeing to make it more special. The glass coating finish and one-of-a-kind pattern of our spindle tray resemble the luxury and perfection of the Lexus brand.”
As well as the SEE SEE spindle tray Lexus has introduced another new item to the CRAFTED FOR LEXUS range: a clear and turquoise glass by Studio Kobin, available in two different sizes. Based in the Fukuoka prefecture, the craftsman behind Studio Kobin, Toshiyasu Nakamura, works in Kiriko cut glass – a traditional craft in which bright colors and intricate patterns are cut into glass for manufacturing glass cups and decorative objects. “Usually, Kiriko glass comes in vivid colors, such as blue or red, but I chose clear and turquoise to give a calm, harmonious impression,” explains Nakamura. Nakamura, whose background is in woodcarving, is used to doing things differently from other Kiriko craftsmen, adding his own touch to all his designs. “I cut glass the way I would carve wood,” says Nakamura. “Most Kiriko artists handle glass very carefully, following lines that they have traced in advance. However, I carve glass in freehand, just like a woodcarver would do it. It’s become my style.”
Kiriko, a unique Japanese tradition of hand-cutting delicate patterns into glass – fused with color – produces stunning reflections of light, depending on the angle of both the light and the viewer’s gaze
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For the CRAFTED FOR LEXUS collaboration, Studio Kobin took inspiration from the impressive interior of the Lexus LS, which features carved glass accents developed by Nakamura and other Kiriko glassworkers. The numerous unique elements within the LS are a reminder of the level of takumi artistry of Lexus: for the LS, the brand uses special Kiriko-cut glass as an interior door-trim piece, which is beautifully delicate yet strong because of the latest glass-reinforcement technologies.

A LEVEL OF ARTISTRY NEVER BEFORE SEEN IN AN AUTOMOBILE

The pattern on Studio Kobin’s clear and turquoise glass is the same as the one on the door-trim piece of the LS, reflecting its movement and unique shine. “I asked expert glassblowers to craft original glass using free-blowing techniques, giving each item a unique shape,” says Nakamura. “No two glasses are the same because I adapt the cut, the thickness of the lines, and the carving angle according to these individual shapes.”

Whether it’s Hikimono woodwork or Kiriko cut glass, the SEE SEE spindle tray and the Studio Kobin glasses are rich in stories that only uniquely crafted items can tell. Truly handmade, they are prime examples of the best of craftsmanship, making them ideal additions to the CRAFTED FOR LEXUS collection.