Louis Vuitton’s Blossom Stool takes a page from Designer’s Japanese roots

Japanese Designers and Iconic Stools

Four petals, two wings. Blossom stool by Tokujin Yoshioka (2016) and Butterfly Stool by Sori Yanagi (1954) both uses the plywood and a one-component construction.
Tokujin Yoshioka’s sketches. Rooted in the LV monogram shape and form.

The Blossom Stool by Japanese designer Tokujin Yoshioka in white and black leathers, gold, silver, and later to be released in a rose gold edition is a standout at Louis Vuitton’s touring Objets Nomads parked at Pedder Building’s 5th floor during Art Week 2018.

“I like it. It is very simple, elegant, clever. There is only one type of member that constructs it. It’ll be cool if it comes apart. But that’s probably how it was modelled at first. With paper.” quoting architect Karl Tsui who is few with words.

When I saw the white leather version up close and noticed the underlying curved wood, I immediately thought of the Butterfly Stool.

Designed by Japanese designer Sori Yanagi over fifty years ago, the Butterfly Stool, is iconic as ever and may be the piece of Japanese design most collected by museums worldwide.

To make the beautiful curves in the Butterfly Stool using plywood took woodworks company TENDO MOKKO 天童木工 two years to perfect. Taking note of the tatami floors common in Japanese households at that time, the unusual leg-free build minimizes any harm or dents made to the woven tatami flooring.

A somewhat rebellious child, the young Yanagi at first had little appreciation for his father’s work in celebrating Japanese fold crafts and the beauty of everyday objects.

It took an outsider to Japanese culture, French architect Charlotte Perriand for whom Sori Yanagi worked as a personal assistant during the architects’ year-long project to uncover the essence of Japanese design to wake the young Yanagi up to his country’s own wealth of talent.

Sori Yanagi later became an influential advocate of what he called “anonymous” design. He later continued his support of the Mingei Museum his father Soetsu Yanagi founded by becoming the director of the Museum in 1977.

Sori Yanagi passed away in 2011 at the ripe age of 96 and has left many celebrated designs that are still produced and much loved.

The Butterfly Stool is now produced by Swiss company Vitra, but the vintage stools with the 天童木工 mark underneath the stool can still be found as collector items.

TENDO MOKKO

TENDO MOKKO had made many iconic chairs and furniture. Some pieces were used by the Japanese royal family and also in the prime ministers’ abode.

The company was founded under desperate circumstances during World War II. Carpenters, builders out of work because of the war created a collective to find work serving its largest client, the Japanese government, building wooden boxes to hold ammunition.

As the war ended, the company shifted to creating furniture using plywood technology — a cheaper alternative to solid wood, and could meet mass manufacturing demands.

Decoy airplanes. Open to expertise. Seek out Actively. — Tendo Mokko.


Design & Heritage: Louis Vuitton

Created in 2012, and now in its sixth year, Objets Nomades sees fashion house Louis Vuitton collaborating with designers worldwide — embarking on a contemporary exploration of the brand’s heritage in fine craftsmanship and luxury travel.

Not all pieces ‘on tour’ are in Louis Vuitton’s Object Nomades permanent collection. The egg-like Cocoon chair that suspends from a leather rope and looks very much like a laced chocolate Easter egg purportedly has only ten produced in various color leather.

The best-seller, also the most affordable at US$5000, is the Bell Lamp — a rechargeable LED lamp that lends atmosphere outdoors as well as indoors.

Designed by Barber & Osgerby, the British design duo tapped Italian Murano glass blowing artisans to create the beautiful form complete with LV leather straps and logo on the glass. The lamp is part of Louis Vuitton’s permanent offering.

As if taking a walk down memory lane travelling on horse carriages, the Spiral Lamp casts beautiful spoke-like patterns on the floor. Adjust the ring within the lamp higher or lower creates new patterns with the twisting leather. A pair of the Spiral Lamp makes a functional indoor sculpture.


What makes designs stand the test of time?

One wonders if the Blossom Chair would make it into museum collections.

Does the branded collaboration between Tokujin Yoshioka with Louis Vuitton add to or take away from the design?

A new Butterfly Chair costs US$1000 or so, while the Blossom Chair costs at least 10 times that…