Furniture pieces that blend with the environment

“When you are not thinking about an object when you are using it, that is more interesting [than] when you think about it.”

It is baffling not to think about an object whenever you are using it, because how can you actually make use of its functions and maximize its full potential when you are not aware of its presence at all? And haven’t we been told to be mindful and to acknowledge the existence of things?

LIKE A BUTTERFLY. The Papilio range of chairs features an enveloping back that cradles the person sitting on it. 
But Japanese industrial designer Naoto Fukasawa argues that this is how a person should feel and should be whenever he is using the products that he designed. In fact, his “without thought” and “design dissolving in behavior” philosophy have given birth to many iconic and world-renowned projects that are simple and intrinsically minimalistic in form—case in point is the wall-mounted CD player he designed for Muji which is now part of the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Japanese industrial designer Naoto Fukasawa 
Fukasawa, tagged as one of the world’s most influential designers by Bloomberg Newsweek, was recently in the Philippines to talk about his design philosophy as part of B&B Italia’s 50th anniversary. 

Fukasawa has been collaborating with the Italian furniture company since 2005, a partnership that has led to the creation of many remarkable projects.

While Fukasawa goes for most advanced, smallest and thinnest when he’s designing electronic products, his approach in furniture is based on human behavior.

“I never fail to make a design that fit well into the environment and fit well into your house,” said the Tokyo-based designer.

Papilio Bed and Awa low table
For him, an object, or a piece of furniture for this matter, should espouse harmonious relationship between its user and environment. “Not having to think about it makes the relationship between a person and an object run more smoothly.”

In an interview with Manila Standard, Fukasawa said when designing he doesn’t just focus on the object. “I design the object with the air behind or around it as ambient.” With this, according to him, “people think about an object less while the body naturally behaves with it.”

“It is part of the environment, [thus] it should be part of the environment,” he added.

Fukasawa-designed furniture and accessories include (from left) Bunch, Papilio Shell and Shelf-X.
One ideal example is his Papilio range of armchairs, sofas and beds—a line that is acknowledged as one of his most celebrated works.

The sculpted Papilio line lacks the show-stopping quality and details that many equate with the designer’s talent—and perhaps even personality—but upon sitting on the chair, one would feel like being cradled. The curve supports the back in a way that’s only possible if the designer thought of the object’s user when he was creating it.

“It needs to support the back of the person, that’s why we made the contour,” said Fukasawa.

Like its namesake, the Papilio features an enveloping back that seems to open like a butterfly’s wings—Fukasawa’s response to the way people use their mobile phones and tablet computers today. Because according to him, shrinking technology is changing the types of furniture people use at home.

“Why do we need such a big table to work at, or a huge screen?” he asked. “You lie down on the bed to watch TV, call on your mobile, work or eat food. That’s why I designed these chairs and the bed with a back.”

The Shelf-X, another Fukasawa design, is a stark white bookcase made of thin Corian that features modern geometrical lines that fit into the minimalist flow of an urban home. Since the designer believes that an object should be part of the environment—however way possible—the Shelf-X can be used as wall-mounted shelf, partition, or screen.

Meanwhile, the Awa is an elegant, asymmetrical low table that is a perfect complement to any sofa or bed. It is made from Cristalplant, a refined material that is smooth to the touch.

These and other Fukasawa-designed furniture are available at B&B Italia, exclusively distributed in the Philippines by Focus Global, Inc.

B&B Italia showroom is located at Twenty-four Seven McKinley Building, Bonifacio Global City in Taguig. For inquiries, call (02) 705-9999 or visit

Topics: Naoto Fukasawa , Muji , Museum of Modern Art New York , B&B Italia , Focus Global Inc.
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