If it took Marco Polo three years to arrive in China, it was in fact a short distance from the much-dreamed Cipango, an expression invented by the traveler himself to indicate Japan, these days to discover the care and details of the furniture for Paese del Sol Levante just go to Porta Venezia, the beating heart of Milan’s creativity. It is in via Tadino 2, in the shadow of the famous Rasini tower designed by Gio Ponti and Emilio Lancia and in the square that houses Albergo Diurno, that the doors to the newly renovated apartment led by architect Francesco Rota open and where, away from these days stress and hustle, the Ariake’s precious world of Japanese craftsmanshipthis year at his first (very successful) Milanese participation at FuoriSalone 2022.
Curated by Hanna Nova Beatrice and Gabriel Tan, the exhibition Cipango: Japan Reimagined will be an opportunity to discover the history of the Japanese company, which was first founded in 2017 and which in a few years has been able to make its way into the international market. Born from the association of two furniture manufacturers, Legnatec and Hirata Chair, the brand’s goal is immediately clear: to reinterpret the tradition of Japanese craftsmanship and think it to a wider, cosmopolitan audience, without distorting the product’s identity, as creative director Gabriel Tan tells us. . “There is a fair balance – the designer continues – between what should be the soul of Japan and the more urban aspect we want to strive for”.
From room to room, inside the Ariake apartment, you can breathe an unprecedented atmosphere that draws attention to craftsmanship and the meeting of different cultures to its strengths. Under Gabriel Tan’s watchful eye, one moves community of designers from around the world called to reinterpret the Japanese tradition according to their sensitivity. From Francesco Rota to Inga Sempé, who passed among others Neri & Hu, Norm Architects and Zoë Mowat, designers involved in the company’s catalog were asked to personally attend a workshop held in Japan, an opportunity created for hoc to get to know the local culture and then immediately and concretely translate the geometric shapes thanks to the precious collaboration with the craftsmen.
By crossing the threshold of the apartment, Ariake welcomes guests Cabinet mirror designed by Inga Sempé imagined as a precious coffin with a double soul. The object, devised by the French designer, unites the culture of keeping the environment as tidy as possible with minimal systems, and has a reflective mirror on the main side, which on the other hand hides a small support for coats, and thus manages to maintain space entrance ordered in an informal but still design way. Continuing from the kitchen to the living room, it is immediately clear how characteristic elements from Japan are found in the production of the objects. This is the case with the collection Tarukidesigned by Tan with inspiration from the collections of temples in the Japanese tradition, which has become the inspiration for a system that includes a coffee table and a small bookcase.
In the main living room we find the typical elements of the construction of an alcove: sofas and armchairs that define cozy and intimate environments. In the living room, Francesco Rota’s projects become oases of comfort and tranquility, between seats and tables that see their focal point in the material detail. It is actually the curved wood that characterizes the entire collection HOYO, in Japanese embrace, which comes with a minimal but at the same time warm and homely design. “Involving designers from different cultures also means demonstrating that we are a brand with a certain non-conservative attitude,” Gabriel Tan tells us, demonstrating that even though the bond to the motherland is fundamental to the company, it does not mean that a being able to reread Japanese culture may be that they are local designers.
To define the bedroom environment, the company decided to rely on the skilled hands of architects who went in search of the minimal elements necessary for the construction of the bed and the wardrobes. Neri & Hu was therefore based on the basic module of the tubular element, which became the heart of UMU Collection, and playing with the composition of the full and empty spaces, the duo of architects entrusted the tubular structure with the task of supporting the bed and the drawer system. By maintaining a clean environment and being able to offer different configurations depending on space and customer needs, the system manages to combine elements that in the culture are usually separate, such as the bed and the bedside table.
Alongside the elements present in the Ariake collections, the creative director’s choice was to involve more or less small realities selected from around the world and go into the Milanese apartment to make the stay in the apartment as comfortable as possible. The ceramics scattered among the various rooms actually come from Portugal, while the lamps are distributed on the fabric of the collection. Veil, the result of the creativity of the New York studio Ladies & Gentleman Studios and those from the Plissé collection designed in Sweden by the Folkform studio. Despite the kilometers away, both are aesthetically very similar, which shows that it is not the geographical location that determines the taste of belonging.
Enriching the philosophy of a healthy craft that does not seem to bow to the logic of the market, but which maintains its own ethics, is also Ariake’s latest choice, in response to the principles of sustainability that we often see set aside at events like Salone del Mobile or completely forgotten. If the closure of Japanese borders during the outbreak of the pandemic led the company to reinvent its local strategy to reduce the CO2 footprint, but also the delivery times for the European market, Ariake has undertaken a cooperation with four Italian producersin from Friuli-Venezia Giulia to produce the 2022 collection destined for the European market.
“First of all, we wondered whether a traditional Japanese product should necessarily be produced in Japan,” admits Gabriel Tan, who, before relocating production with the company, highlighted all possible benefits for producers, consumers and the environment. “The idea of importing materials and then having to export the finished product again did not seem like the right choice. For this we have decided to move production to the western market to Europegeographically privileged place for contacts with the rest of the world “.
“We have decided to rely on production small artisans in Friuli“. With the intention of activating a virtuous mechanism that not only involves the production districts that have already been widely started, Ariake’s idea was to involve companies” with which they could grow, “says Tan, also from a circular economic perspective. in transport for the purchase of raw materials. “Marco Polo wrote about Japan without ever going there, our intention is to make our culture known to everyone by taking it around the world”, concludes the art director.
Cipango: Japan Reimagined
Via Alessandro Tadino 2
June 7 – 10
9:00 – 19:00
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