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The True Intention of Sustainable Design of the Collaborative Project “FabCafe Nagoya” by SUPPOSE DESIGN OFFICE and Hidakuma
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Outline

A Ceiling Frame Recalling Forest. "Hardwood Wanes" Structured with the Use of Kumiki Joinery

“Rayard Hisaya-odori Park” opened in September 2020 in Hisaya Odori Park, a landmark in Nagoya city. In the park, “FabCafe Nagoya” made its grand opening in collaboration with Loftwork Inc., (its headquarters based in Shibuya-ku, Tokyo) and OKB Soken Co., Ltd. (Headquarters: Ogaki City, Gifu Prefecture). FabCafe has 12 bases around the world, creating innovation by combining technology and design. We hope that also in Nagoya, the creative communities both inside and outside Japan will help connecting designers, engineers, companies, and others. based in the Tokai area to create a new movement.


The interior design of FabCafe Nagoya was undertaken by SUPPOSE DESIGN OFFICE, a company that has won many domestic and international awards. Hidakuma was in charge of timber coordination, furniture production, and production direction. Hidakuma proactively proposed use of scraps and construction methods, in response to the main design approach Suppose takes: small materials are assembled to create a large structure, while making the best use of the characteristics and unique texture of hardwoods. We fully supported the interior project of Suppose throughout the process of the timber selection, production, and on-site construction aiming to generate no wasted wood.

A forest-like ceiling frame, a window bench linked to that design, a counter featuring the louver with a sense of scale. We pursued a “cycle of materials” that makes full use of wood. Also, Hida’s method of kumiki joint joinery was used to assemble the legs of the bench and low table.

In this article, we will share the features and stories behind the production process of FabCafe Nagoya’s space and products, as well as the member’s voice of Ai Yoshida and Daiki Hirokawa who were both in charge of the design.

Project Overview

  • Support Details
    Timber coordination, furniture design and production, furniture production direction
  • Duration: October 2019 – September 2020
  • Team Organization
    Client: OKB Research Institute, Ltd., and Loftwork Inc.
    Architectural supervision, interior design, furniture design: Ai Yoshida, Katsuya Igarashi, Daiki Hirokawa (SUPPOSE DESIGN OFFICE)
    Timber coordination, furniture design and production, furniture production direction:  Kotaro Iwaoka, Kosuke Kuroda, Hideaki Asaoka, Chikako Kadoi, Teruyo Iiyama (Hidakuma)
    Production and cooperation: Nishino Seizaisho (Lumber manufacturing) Fujii Kagu Seisakusho (Furniture manufacturing), Yamamoto Kenchiku (Architecture), Nonaka Mokkohsho (Wood work), Tokiwa Lumbertec Co.,Ltd. Go-products, Furniture & Lifestyle Factory, OAK VILLAGE, KANEMOKU Co.,LTD., Hida Shokunin Seikatsu (Furniture manufacturing & design), Kokura Tekko (Ironwork),  Suwa Kenchiku (Architecture), Hashimoto Kenchiku (Architechture),  Hokiguchi Kenchiku (Architechture),  Kyo-Sakan (Plastering), Monzen Sakan (Plastering), Yamagishi Kohmuten (Engineering), Motoki Oikawa (Hida / Hardwood concierge), Toramame (Wood studio), Hida Shinrin Kumiai (Forest Association),  Noguchi Hardware Co., Ltd., and Tanaka Kenchiku (Architecture)

 

Outputs

The Challenges to Use Hardwoods Unsuitable for Mass Production to the Fullest

Ceiling frame made of wanes

The ceiling frame was the most symbolic and challenging production in this project. Based on the Suppose’s idea of ​​expanding the possibilities of a spatial experience that makes use of sustainable small timbers, by sandwiching a piece that makes up a beam with four small materials. Through this approach, we realized lighter weight, structural rationality and design being constructed in a hybrid manner. It offers a new spatial experience of “under the roof” in an existing box-shaped building.
We used about 800 so-called “wanes” that are usually cut and thrown away at the very beginning of the manufacturing process, or used as firewood. By increasing the number of organically shaped hardwoods, we raised the level of abstraction of the shape, and finished it in a design that fits into the skeleton ceiling and the entire space. When you look up, it gives you an illusion of being in a hardwood forest.

<Specifications>
Materials: Oak, chestnut, Japanese red pine, variety of hardwood wanes
Number of wanes used: Approximately 800
Size: 30m x 10m
Finish: Flameproof coating

Raised flooring

While hardwoods are abundant in its varieties, they are not suitable for manufacturing mass production due to their bends and knots. This solid hardwood flooring has been used in a lean manner and randomly stretched, according to the new wood-cutting rules originally Hidakuma had proposed. (* Reference article: https://hidakuma.com/en/blog/20200116_suzuyo_process/) Brightly colored beeches and cherries are used to create a slightly raised space with soft impression against the skeleton ceiling and solid ceiling frame.

<Specifications>
Material: Mountain cherry, beech
Size: Approx. 50 square meters
Finish: Glass penetration coating
Other specifications: Random pasting

Wood-louver-made large counter

Orderly lined louvers and uniform gaps

The large counter with an impressive louver with a length of 13m is an iconic presence that stands out in the space. This design is a recreation of the timber piles Suppose staff had seen during their visit to Hida. The top plate is coated in a thick mortar style instead of using timbers to give it a sharp look, and the cherry used as a parting material adopted the iron mordant technique. The counter is expected to blend well with the space along with the louver chestnut material as it will turn gray over time. All these coatings and the elaborate processing of the wood end of the louvers have been achieved by the high level of technical skills of the Hida craftsmen.

<Specifications>
Material: Chestnut, mountain cherry, cation (mortar style coating)
Total number of the timber appearing on the wood end surface: 432
Frame material
Size: Length 13,480 mm, Depth 1,096 mm x Height 1,110 mm
Finish: Shiraki (plain wood) oil painting, iron mordant (parting materials only)

Continuous window bench

The design is made as if they are pulled together with bolts, reducing the number of legs. We reduced the legs from two to one as we use one piece of table top instead of a few.

Along with the idea Suppose suggests, “All design that works with the ceiling design should be supported by thin objects”. So the legs are assembled with four different materials using the least amount of hardware, while maintaining the strength of the legs, which tends to be structurally loaded. By the technique of kumiki joint joinery called shiplap joint (aikaki), the design has been made to support one long top plate with each leg, instead of nine benches lined in a row, ensuring the visibility of the legs.

<Specifications>
Material: Birch cherry, birch wood plywood
Size: 13,710 mm x 600 mm x Height 400 mm (1,200 x 600 x Height 400 mm each)
Finish: Shiraki (plain wood) oil coating

Cushion

Selected a matching color to the space. We devised a way to make the surface as exposed as possible by piping Φ3mm. Also, the amount of batting has been adjusted to smooth out the boundary between the tubular cushions and the square cushions.

<Specifications>
Material: Mystic Aqua Clean
Size: 1,800 mm x 600 x Height 50 mm (square), Φ180 / 1,800 mm (tube)

Window counter

The vertical slits are designed to fall straight down in conjunction with the design of the ceiling. A powerful large rails are used to maintain the structural strength. In order to expose the surface as a plate material, the legs are designed to stop at the first plate of the double legs so that the wood end of the rails do not come out as an extra part.

<Specifications>
Material: Birch cherry, top plate cation one mortar style coating
Size: 3,420mm x 420mm x Height 1,000mm
Finish: Shiraki (plain wood) oil coating

BEAM table

The cation on the top plate were sprayed with water before the mortar gets completely dried, and plastered while intentionally allowing gaps between the drying times to create uneven color. Without this unevenness, it would have given users a more plain impression. However this texture helped create a sense of depth in the final product.

<Specifications>
Material: Birch cherry, top plate cation one mortar style painting
Size: 1,900mm x 350 x Height 1,000mm
Finish: Shiraki (plain wood) oil coating

The low table for the raised flooring

A design with elaborate techniques on how to support the table with thin members, in order to match the design of the ceiling frame and the long window bench. The legs are also made with the joint joinery technique, the shiplap joint (aikaki), with the tips dug (cut and grooved) to support the two legs while holding the rails. Artificial marble is used for the top plate to accentuate the space full of trees.

<Specifications>
Material: Chestnut (leg), Top plate – artificial marble
Size: Φ750mm × Height 360mm
Finish: Shiraki (plain wood) oil coating

Wooden terrazzo table

As a sustainable new material, the wooden terrazzo table has been created in collaboration with Suppose and Hidakuma. Small pieces of wood used to be thrown away or used as accessories or wood chips. They are now used as a table top by mixing with mortar, aiming to integrate them into the value as furniture, as well as to generate no waste. By mixing them with different materials, the table has been transformed into the appearance and texture that cannot be produced by wood alone, giving it a lovely appearance like a cookie.

<Specifications>
Material: Magnolia, cherry birch, birch, Japanese wingnut, conker, chestnut, MORTEX
Size: Φ450mm × Height 420mm

Special chairs by KILI bench (log)

Since there are many straight lines in the design of the entire space, and also we wanted to differentiate them from the elaborate legs of the facing window bench, we didn’t make the design so over the top. We have arranged non-processed solid logs, as well as ones that have been only partially scraped as accents.

<Specifications>
Material: Water oak
Size: Φ350mm x Height 350mm
Finish: Xyla decor clear coating

Special chairs by bench B (iron)

Designed with cold black iron supporting the soft felt material. As iron tends to be distorted due to its simple construction, we corrected the distortion by providing a little wing on the welded part to join on a stable surface.

<Specifications>
Material: Felt (top plate), black iron (legs)
Size: Φ350mm x Height 350mm
Finish: Matte clear coating

Flooring table

The same cherry material for the flooring is used for the top plate. By edging around with the black iron, a moderate sense of tension is created.

<Specifications>
Material: Cherry flooring material (top plate), black iron (legs)
Size: 600mm x 750mm x Height 700mm
Finish: Shiraki (plain wood) oil coating (top plate), matte clear coating

Work table

Designed to be slightly higher, enabling it to be used as a workbench. Also made lighter by using only three legs.

<Specifications>
Material: Wood end revealed laminated plywood (top plate), Water oak (legs)
Size: 600mm x 420mm x 900mm
Finish: Shiraki (plain wood) oil coating

Video

This is a commentary video by Kosuke Kuroda of the Hidakuma production team, who was in charge of this project.

Process

Kick-off in Hida, the Direction Conceived by Suppose

Under the proposal by Loftwork, Suppose was appointed as an architectural supervisor and interior designer. Now the first project with Hidakuma was about to kick off.

The support team listened to Mr. Iwaoka from Hidakuma. Ms. Chiaki Hayashi, chairman of Hidakuma, accompanied the tour.

Ms. Yoshida (center of the photo) visited Mr. Hirokawa (left of the photo) of Hidakuma in Hida. Seeing the timber piled up on the lumber yard, they thought the weathered shades of the wood were impressive. This later leads to the design of the counter.

Initially, Ms. Yoshida, Mr. Igarashi, and Mr. Hirokawa, the representatives of Suppose, visited Hida, which is the base of Hidakuma, to share the original rough draft of the design. During the visit to the forests, saw mills, and factories guided by Hidakuma, they learnt about cycle and mechanism of forests. The team Suppose asked themselves, “What can we do with these particularly little trees ?” To answer this, they thought over how to make the most of the characteristics of this material with a creative mind.

From this visit, Suppose came up with two directions – “create a large space by assembling small hardwoods”, as well as “create a space like a hut where you can relax in the park”.

Idea of Making a Ceiling Frame by Using the Edge of the Square Lumber "Wanes"

After Hidakuma saw a rough draft of Suppose that shows a large model by assembling a large number of small-diameter trees, one idea came to our mind. Why not take advantage of the edge material, so-called “wanes”, just like a crust of bread, which are usually first cut off from a wood?  We proposed that they can recycle materials by using wanes which are created in the process of making large items such as counters and floor materials. In response to this, Suppose said they were also definitely keen to give it a go if they could team up with Hidakuma.

When items with similar shapes are lined up, the fact that is “the lined up shapes'' is emphasized, and as a result, the meaning of the shape itself becomes less significant. (Source: Hidakuma)

By assembling these delicate wanes with unique shapes one by one, the presence of bent small-diameter materials with strong individuality can be softened.

Determining the Shape, and Several Changes on Materials

A mockup of the part where the four wanes are combined to form a pillar, the cornerstone of the design, was produced based on the plan drawing created by Suppose. We adjusted the size of the materials more finely to realize the shape by using wanes.

The plan drawing of the ceiling frame (Source: Suppose)

The mockup built by Hidakuma

Wanes are easy to bend

As the direction of the shape was confirmed, we encountered one problem after searching the actual length of the existing wanes. Even though it takes a certain length to hang on the ceiling, most of the wanes from general woodworkers’ factories are found to be too short. On top of that, it turned out to be difficult to obtain long ones, since wanes are the most sapwood part of wood and they are easily deformed.

Therefore, they came up with a plan to use long and thin branches instead. They worked out that at least 1,200 pieces were required for a 4-piece set of wanes. However, if a branch is divided into four pieces, it turns out only 300 pieces were required, which was 1/4 of the original plan, and it seemed to be sufficient. We didn’t have any issues in terms of length of branches, and also they were the most unused part of the forest. We immediately changed the direction and went into the forest to search for the branches.

Revising the Manufacturing Methods

Working on a snowy mountain, feeling the tremendous scale of a mountain

On a sunny day in the new year, we went into the snowy mountains with a saw in our hands, to start looking for 300 branches with a length of 1,500 mm. However, cutting green wood was unimaginably inefficient. Even if we worked for around two hours, we were able to only procure 10 pieces of wood.
Concerned about the delivery date, Hidakuma turned to the forestry association for advice. Few days later, they collected the selection of branches. After that, we made full use of Hidakuma’s personal connections to collect branches from many factories and craftsmen.

Three-dimensional branches cannot be well combined with a linear frame with three-point intersections. (Source: Hidakuma)

As we proceeded with the design again in parallel with the material collection, this time a production problem arose. When verified with a 3D model, while a linear material is required for the ceiling frame, a three-dimensionally bent branch material cannot be well combined, no matter around which center point it revolves. After several meetings with craftsmen, we decided to return to the original plan of combining four wanes.

Huge Mockup Production Moves the Team

The actual mockup. The scale in the space was finely adjusted by moving it up and down with a forklift.

The Suppose team adjusted the height. They thought "It is not usual to make such a scale of mockup, so we really need to respond to their hard work."

We proceeded with the verification process by using four wanes again, but then it was not straightforward either. In order to collect delicate materials to make a frame (This is the idea of Suppose) , it was necessary to cut each material as much as possible, which required structural studies. Also, it was necessary to consider the design of the space, such as how long the distance from the GL (ground) should be maintained with respect to the existing 4,000mm frame. These problems are difficult to imagine on a 3D model. Hidakuma thought it was necessary to make a mockup to discover an efficient work process, as they needed to leave production work to craftsmen.

Therefore, we made a mockup of 8m in one span and carried out the verification process with the Support team who revisited Hida again. We conducted a study on the shape and its presence in the space, as well as further slight adjustment over the shape.

Continued to Procure Materials, and Moved onto Processing Work

Sometimes we went really far to search wanes. "What do you do with such tiny things?" The saw mills and factories wondered. We explained to them, and were finally able to reach the number we needed.

The total number of 800 wanes were required, but we actually needed over 1,000 considering  the number withdrawn during the processing work. We continued to collect, keeping asking Hida craftsmen, nearby sawmills, and chip factories.

Also, since a large number of parts were required, we broke the pieces into smaller ones to proceed with the processing and coating work of the wood end surface, with the help of many craftsmen.

Flexible Craftsmanship to Support the Field Sites

After procuring the materials and completing the design finally, we were about to start work on site. However, it was hard to adjust the position with the piping duct on the ceiling, taking a long time to determine. Anyway, we carried the parts to Nagoya with the materials assembled. We plotted the parts that are likely to collide on the design drawing, and started assembling on-site while assuming the position.

Even though the long straight lines should be the feature of the ceiling frame, the hardwood wanes tend to warp easily. They are corrected by the high technical skills of the craftsmen, and assembled precisely. In this way, a ceiling frame covered with about 800 trees was created.

Mr. Yamamoto, the carpenter who processes parts on site

Craftsmen made the frame while flexibly processing the parts on site, so as to avoid the ducts in some places.

The work progressing on site

The position of the hanging source had been continued to be verified until the last minute

Due to the coronavirus crisis broken out during the construction, it became impossible to go through the on-site verification process, and for the production team to get together, which resulted in the suspension of the construction work temporarily. In a short period of one month, to regain the time we lost, we continued collaborative work with the design team and craftsmen, which finally led to the successful completion.

Members

Ai Yoshida
Architect / Founder, CEO
1994 Graduated from Anabuki Design College
1994  Worked at Izutsu Co.,Ltd.
1996 Worked at Kikuchi Design
2001 Suppose design office
2014 Established SUPPOSE DESIGN OFFICE Co.,Ltd.
2017年 Established Vantage Point Properties Co.,Ltd
2017年 Established Sha-shokudo
2018年 Established BIRD BATH&KIOSK
https://suppose.jp/en/

Katsuya Igarashi
SUPPOSE DESIGN OFFICE Co.,Ltd.
1988 Born in Saitama prefecture
2004 Graduated from Architecture couse of Technical high school of Kumagaya
After graduating, traveled between Canada and Japan.
2012-2013 Worked at STUDIO AK
2016 Joined SUPPOSE DESIGN OFFICE
https://suppose.jp/en/

Daiki Hirokawa
SUPPOSE DESIGN OFFICE Co.,Ltd.
Born in Saitama, Japan in 1995.
Entered Faculty of Architecture, Kogakuin University in 2014.
After a year of experience at a design office, joined SUPPOSE DESIGN OFFICE after graduating from university in 2019.
https://suppose.jp/en/

Kotaro Iwaoka
President and CEO of Hidakuma Inc.
Born in 1984. After graduating from Chiba University, Iwaoka engaged in designing private houses and apartment complexes at an architectural company. Then he went back for a graduate study at Keio University, researching and producing digital design products.
In 2011, Iwaoka started working at Hidakuma, wishing to create a cafe “Fab Cafe” that offers a creative designing environment. By 2012, as  the planning and operating director, he successfully opened FabCafe in Shibuya, Tokyo, where digital design products are being created. He also joined in 2015 to start up half-governmental and half private company, Hidakuma Inc., (official name: Hida no Mori de Kuma wa Odoru) in cooperation with Hida city of Gifu prefecture. 2016 saw a FabCafe opened in the same city. He has been taking up new projects based around the forest resources. In April 2018, Iwaoka became vice president and CEO of the company, then in March 2019, he became the president and CEO of the company.

Kousuke Kuroda
Wood Creative Director at Hidakuma Inc.,
Born in Osaka. While studying architecture and woodwork at university, Kuroda got interested in the phenomenon of light, which inspired him to go to Finland to study the design of furniture and lighting.Then, joined Hidakuma in 2019, who treats the material of wood beyond furniture, and is heavily involved in the forest matters. Kuroda’s aim is to create new things and values by adjusting or connecting the balance among matters such as people and materials, digital and analog. He values every daily life, and enjoys walking and looking for good music.

Member’s Voice

We wanted to extend the awareness of people inside staying at the cafe to the park outside, by intentionally creating a low roof constraint. By creating this space with small-diameter trees, the square-industrial-space of the building itself has been transformed into a cozy space, where you can look out the brightness of outside under a large tree with shades, just like under a bower in a park. We have designed a feeling of openness that leads to the park.
The 13m big counter, which is the key space for communication as a cafe, kitchen function, and work station where laser cutter and UV printer, etc. are placed, as well as the cafe  counter. This counter is inspired by the landscape with orderly piled materials, which left a big impression on me when I visited the saw mill. The design is after the beauty of the landscape where an overwhelming amount of unprocessed materials are placed. A counter made of just one log with tremendous impact is replaced with a collection of small materials, but it still shows a presence as an icon that symbolizes FabCafe, with an impact comparable to that of a log.
Also, by using wanes and bent trees that were meant to have been thrown away, as well as by intentionally leaving the bark of the tree, we keep a memory of the tree that is meant to be faded away through the production process. We hope this FabCafe Nagoya will create not only the design as an interior, but also the possibility of a space experience that may be realised with small materials, the possibility of a mechanism that returns to the cycle of the forest by combining technology, design and more through the design.

SUPPOSE DESIGN OFFICE
Ai Yoshida

To promote the project this time, collaboration with Hidakuma was an important point for the project to leap forward. While seeing Hidakuma’s efforts to create new values in Hida Forest by actually visiting Hida Furukawa and observing various places, we discovered various aspects, including the unique nature of hardwood trees, the actual condition of small-diameter trees, and various expressions trees have to offer.
I believe the fact that we had a lot of communication with Hidakuma enabled us to produce products, to expand the possibilities of spatial experience with small materials, and to use up every corner of trees to abide by sustainability.
Also, regarding the design that uses traditional joint joinery with minimum number of screws, which is Hidakuma’s strong point, such as shiplap joint and half lap joint, I believe we respected each other’s areas of expertise, such as traditional methods and aesthetic perspectives, to bring a positive effect on the space to the smallest details by discussing detailed dimensions and production methods with Hidakuma.      
I believe that it was a great project that will lead to the future, because we came fully face to face with Hidakuma about certain restrictions such as small-diameter hardwoods and lumber standards.

SUPPOSE DESIGN OFFICE
Daiki Hirokawa

 

It is said that only 5% of Hida hardwood is used as furniture. Since wood is cut and scraped repeatedly during the furniture manufacturing process, the actual amount of hardwood used in the finished furniture may be even less. So what happens to the remaining 95% or more? It is used as a bed for barns, a fungus bed for mushrooms, paper, cardboard, and fuel in useful manners. The wanes and small logs used in FabCafe Nagoya were part of the 95% side. Even if we didn’t use it this time, it would have been used in a useful way somewhere. We would like to turn the cycle that begins with this forest creation into a sustainable system. We believe that diversity (versatility and variety of use) is necessary for the system to sustain. To that end, we intervened in the existing cycle to ask ourselves “Will the wanes be the roof?” or “What will the small logs be?” , and we actually made attempts to realize them. We hope that you will visit FabCafe Nagoya, which has expanded the diversity of hardwoods on the 95% side a little further, and join the FabCafe community to reach out to the Hida forest with their expectations and questions in mind.

Hidakuma
Kotaro Iwaoka

During the period of this project, we encountered an event where the virus spread worldwide. Later in life, the act that is “to spend a relaxing time at a cafe” may turn into a precious experience.
While the meaning of the physical place and the content of the act of making things are being questioned, we thought about what we can do as Hidakuma. As a result, we challenged ourselves to use trees to the full in cooperation with Suppose.
I am grateful to everyone who ran the project side by side in difficult situations.
I hope that the accumulation of individual shapes on the ceiling you can see at the store will give you an opportunity to think about the shapes of the trees and mountains in the forest.

Hidakuma
Kosuke Kuroda

Store Overview

Store name: FabCafe Nagoya
Location: RAYARD Hisaya-Odori Park, 3-6-18 Naka-ku, Nagoya-shi, Aichi
Store area: 283 square meters
Opening date: September 2020
Number of seats: 70 seats
Nearest station: Nagoya Municipal Subway, Hisaya Odori Station, 3 minutes walk
Website:http://www.fabcafe.com/jp/nagoya/

 

文・石塚 理奈
竣工写真:長谷川 健太

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