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Japanese heritage brand Karimoku New Standard's calling card is an intriguing synthesis of minimalism grounded in age-old techniques, especially evident in the Castor Shelf. While the simplicity of the form is striking, the details honor a tradition of craft. The surface of the shelf resembles a Japanese "sunoko" or duckboard, seemingly made of individual laths. In fact, it's one solid plank made of multiple strips of Japanese oak that are elaborately glued together. The compact size of the Castor Shelf makes it an ideal fit for entrances or hallways; if more storage is needed, it can be extended with the companion Castor Bench. By Swiss design firm Big-Game, one of Karimoku New Standard's prime collaborative partners in their newly-minted quest to engage exciting new international talent as well as to promote responsible craftsmanship with their ongoing efforts to preserve and revitalize Japanese hardwood forests at home.
KARIMOKU NEW STANDARD
A traditional Japanese maker of wood furniture for 70-odd years, Karimoku turned an exciting new page when it relaunched in 2009 with an international roster of contributing designers as Karimoku New Standard. The reboot was twofold—to create modern pieces using its heritage of Japanese craftsmanship techniques and to revitalize native forests by targeting significantly undervalued hardwoods. That precious resource, from low-diameter chestnut, maple and oak trees, had previously ended up mostly as wood chips for paper pulp.
Meanwhile, the design world was gobsmacked by the company’s splendidly functional, often joyously colored furnishings emanating from its collaborating partners. From European, Scandinavian and Japanese creative talents, they include Swedish studio TAF, the Swiss team Big-Game and cult Dutch design duo Scholten & Baijings. The revived Karimoku concept, termed “high-tech and high-touch” by brand creative director David Glaettli, melds the latest technology with unstinting hand-finishing for a truly collectable array of refreshingly unique standouts.
Since coming together in 2004, there's been big doings indeed for the youthful trio behind the Lausanne, Switzerland, design studio Big-Game. With offerings in product, furniture and interior design, it's helmed by Swiss native Grégoire Jeanmonod, French expat Augustin Scott de Martinville and Belgium expat Elric Petit. The founders met as students at the Swiss university of arts and design, ECAL, and, along with their design work, are all now professors there. The firm's varied client list includes Karimoku New Standard, Praxis, Alessi, Materia and Veuve Clicquot.
Following their acknowledged credo—"From confrontation comes progress"—the designers continually draw upon their diverse backgrounds to arrive at a creative synthesis of the experimental and the practical in their work. Represented in the collections of the Zürich Museum of Design, the Musée du Grand-Hornu, the Centre Georges Pompidou as well as the French National Fund of Contemporary Art, their projects have also been shown in various exhibitions and widely published in major magazines. The book Big-Game: Design Overview was published in 2008 on the occasion of their first monographic exhibition in a museum.