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The Original Table of “CIC Tokyo” Placed at the First Base of CIC (Cambridge Innovation Center) in Asia, to Best Suit the Organic Office Space
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Outline

“CIC Tokyo” opened in Toranomon Hills of Tokyo last fall as the first base of “CIC” (Cambridge Innovation Center) in Asia. CIC has eight innovation centers based in the United States. It is a place to function as an office and innovation hub, where innovators and startup companies get together, going beyond nationality and gender gaps. The architect Mr. Tetsuo Kobori designed a unique interior that connects private rooms like cells along with CIC. Instead of dividing uniformly by grids like a conventional office, he designed a space like a city consisting of 163 private rooms of various sizes and shapes.
In this project, Hidakuma designed and manufactured three tables for different polygonal rooms. CIC wanted a highly functional table with a unique and beautiful design. During the production period, as it was in the midst of the coronavirus crisis, we were not able to go through the checking process directly with overseas clients using drawings and mockups. However, Hidakuma made full use of 3D data and shared the design with them in order to supervise this project. 

【Project Overview】

  • Support Details:
    Furniture design and production / furniture production direction / timber coordination
  • Period:
    August 2019 – September 2020
  • Team Organization
    Client: CIC Tokyo 
    Architectural supervision / interior design: CIC, Tetsuo Kobori Architects
    Furniture design / timber coordination / furniture design and production / furniture production direction: Hidakuma, Hideaki Asaoka 

    Production: KITOKURASHI CO., LTD, EC.kits Limited. 

Outputs

The Table Design Invented by Utilizing the Know-How of Hidakuma

Conference table

The “R” shaped edge on the table has a smooth touch like a melted soap

The angled wall on which the monitor is hung and the table are designed to fit perfectly

A meeting table featuring a pentagonal design was designed to be connected to one side of the wall of a room. When you have a video conference, you can see the faces of all the seated members on the monitor placed on the wall. It is the original design of Hidakuma.
We invented a super smooth curve on the edge part where you often touch unconsciously during the meeting, as if the edge does not exist. This is commonly known as “Soap R”. Among the hardwoods, we adopted the horse chestnut conker with a soft and silky texture to pursue a gentle R shape  like melted soap. It also features a beautiful grain that changes its luster depending on the viewing angle.
The box-shaped legs to support the top plate with a length of more than 4m can store extension cords, microphones, and speakers through the hole in the center. 

<Specifications>
Material: Top plate, Horse chestnut conker
Number of units: 1 unit
Size: W3150 x D2630 x H720mm
Leg specifications: Melamine veneer
Finish: Top plate | Permeable urethane coating, Soap R finish

Welcome table

It is a reception table placed at the entrance, serving as a point of contact between staff and guests. We aimed for a casual design to allow easy communication between people, in a relaxed setting.
This is a collaboration between Hidakuma and the original table “GAIA STYLE” of “Furniture & Lifestyle Factory”, who was in charge of table production. We turned the black locust boards with bends or cracks into one plate by using advanced Hida craftsmanship. The rough grain and color of the black locust matches the beautifully shining brass embedded in the top and sides. The legs are made of brass pipes on one side, while the same black locust of the top plate is used on the other side. The grain of the L-shaped fold is aligned to connect to the top plate. By widening the space under the table, it created a spacious impression. 

<Specifications>
Material: Black locust (Robinia)
Number of units: 1 unit
Size: 2,500mm x 1,000mm x H800mm
Leg specifications: Brass pipe
Finish: permeable urethane finish
Other specifications: Brass hardware embedded

Cafe table

A long table with a strong presence, with mortar legs attached to the top plate of 4m long, 100mm2 cedar square timbers joined, normally used for building materials. The design is the same as the table used in “100 BANCH” (Shibuya, Tokyo), which shares the same vision with CIC in terms of creating innovation.

<Specifications>
Material: Cedar square lumber
Number of units: 1 unit
Size: 4,000mm x 1,100mm x 1,000mm
Leg specifications: Mortar, clear urethane coating
Finish: Top plate, permeable urethane finish

Process

Share Images with Overseas Clients by Making Full Use of 3D Data

“CIC Tokyo” is an office space where the two floors on the 15th and 16th floors are seamlessly connected. The 15th floor has a series of polygonal rooms of different sizes and shapes divided into voronoi grids. Hidakuma made a table each to suit the three rooms on this floor, in consultation with CIC and interior designer Mr. Kobori.
In this production process, all communications with the person in charge of CIC had to take place online. Unfortunately due to COVID-19 situations, we were not able to have face-to-face conversations while looking at the drawings, or conducting actual product checks. However, Hidakuma, who specializes in technology, made the most of 3D images and photographs to communicate with clients overseas, enabling them to instinctively visualize from the proposal stage. As a result, we were able to proceed with production while sharing close-to-real textures and designs online.

Proposal materials for conference table, created by Hidakuma.

A trapezoidal table to fit a polygonal wall. The angle was designed to be able to see everyone's face during a video call.

The design of the smooth edge, commonly known as “Soap R”, was created with the ideas accumulated through the long time experience and know-how of Hidakuma.

We proposed two patterns of colors - brown with rigid impression and a lighter one with a soft impression.

Two types of table were proposed for welcome table. A design somewhere between the two was chosen.

Proposal materials for cafe table.

For cafe table, we proposed a few designs including the tables that can be used separately, as well as one with legs made of mirrors.

Craftsmanship Hidden in Beauty. Precisions to Make up a Simple Table.

Even though the design of the three tables may appear to be plain and simple to make, they are all made of delicate wood. The production was undertaken by an elite workshop team of a small number of staff, “KITOKURASHI”. 

A large video MTG table temporarily placed and being adjusted. Some of the timbers used were from the same log.

Beautiful horse chestnut with shrinking figures is used as material for the video MTG table. In the production, the timbers are temporarily placed side by side. The overall balance is adjusted while rearranging the boards, considering the positions to connect as well as the grain of wood. As “Furniture & Lifestyle Factory” usually handles domestic hardwoods, they were able to bring out the charm of the horse chestnut to the maximum, while paying attention to the patterns of the sapwood, as well as the pattern of the grain. 

Make “R” shape by combining a round blade and a flat blade

Completed “R” shape just like a melted soap.

In order to make a gentle R shape like a melted soap Mr. Asaoka from Hidakuma requested this time, we also made a stand where the machine is placed according to the angle, using two types of bits (cutters). This unique R shape is completed by devising and implementing unusual ways of using and combining machines.

Draw lines on the bent black locust. Repeated verification process over and over so as not to run out of materials.

“When I saw it in the drawing, it looked simple enough, so the processing procedure came to my mind straight away. However, it was not easy to match the timbers as the black locust had cracks and knots.” Mr. Abe from KITOKURASHI says on the entrance table. The wood for the top plate and the legs on one side looks as if a single board, but in fact they are skillfully joined with multiple pieces of wood.
This table is a collaboration between “GAIA STYLE”, one of the original products of KITOKURASHI, and Hidakuma. In GAIA STYLE, despite bends or cracks of the wood, the strength of nature collaborates craftsmanship and design. Subsequently this would create the table as if it were a single new board. The material brought for the production by Hidakuma, which resonates with the company’s philosophy, is also a black locust tree with bends, cracks, and knots. The work was consistently and carefully carried out, from cutting wood to joining and attaching brass. 

Positioning the brass.

The delicate dovetail keys.

Both the dovetail keys on the top plate and the brass on the side are not only for designing purposes, but also for the effect of suppressing the force both vertically and horizontally. The position of the brass was carefully examined and decided, while considering which part requires the enforcement, where extra room for trees to expand is necessary, and how the artistic appearance should be maintained. The high skill of craftsmen is also used for the installation of the delicate brass. 

The threaded brass legs, consisting of three parts, an adjuster (left photo), legs, and a plate (right photo), were designed by Ms. Matsubara from KITOKURASHI leaving no welding marks on the brass. It is a functional and beautiful design.

The tree expands or shrinks even after it is joined. Mr. Hoki from KITOKURASHI is carefully working with a belt sander.

Regarding this production, “The job started with Soap R, and I was able to make the most of the skills that I have learnt for the last 17 to 18 years. I feel that everyone in the team also really enjoyed ourselves.” says Mr. Abe. The above is just one part of the process. This product has been formed by the attention to the details, the technical ability to embody it, the deep understanding, passion for the wood behind them, and the power of the team.

Members

Abe Kozo
CEO of KITOKURASHI CO., LTD
Born in Saitama Prefecture in 1978. After graduating from Takayama College of Technology to study furniture making in 2002, he became a disciple of a long-established workshop to learn the processing techniques with plane and lacquer.
After becoming independent in 2006, he launched KOZO INTERIOR STUDIO and held numerous exhibitions at department stores and galleries. Seeing a possibility of starting up a manufacturing company with a team, he participated in the launch of KITOKURASHI CO., LTD in 2017, and has been the representative since 2019.

KITOKURASHI CO., LTD
KITOKURASHI CO., LTD is a company with a workshop studio making furniture and wooden accessories in Hida, Takayama, a renowned furniture producing area. The company is here to support people’s daily life, consisting of a small team of elite craftsmen, designers, and sales. The staff takes finely tuned responses to their customers that furniture makers can never compete for. In addition, the company is available to flexibly accommodate the customers’ requirements beyond what they would expect from small businesses of this size.
https://kitokurashi.com/ 

Hideaki Asaoka
Works at Hidakuma Co., Ltd. Born in Hida City, Gifu. After graduating from Nagoya University of the Arts, he experienced furniture making and design at furniture makers and interior design offices. He participated in Hidakuma in 2016, being in charge of a wide range of projects including product development, design, production, and construction. With a wide range of knowledge on wood and deep respect for craftsmanship, he continues to make great efforts every day to add new value to the wood. 

Member’s Voice

The most memorable thing in the meetings with Mr. Asaoka was the shape of the table surface Soap R. I had never seen anything like this in the 18 years of my woodworking experience. “This is what happened when we tried to embody the shape of “R” that gives the smooth touch against the table”. The shape of the entire table is also designed so that everyone can be seen through the monitor camera. I remember being so excited after hearing about the idea of the tables designed based on the concept of GAIA STYE. At the same time, I thought it would be good if we could use everything we have, including the individual capabilities and experiences that we have.
Since I usually use domestic hardwood, I was conscious of “how to expose the wood in the most attractive way in its design and size”.
In the wood cutting stage, I first tried to grasp the appearance of each piece, the flow and warpage of the grain, the position of the cracks, and so on. Maybe I spent more time looking at it than other processes. All the employees worked on the subsequent process separately, but I think they shared the idea of “maximizing the full potential of the tree”.
Ms. Matsubara, being in charge of planning and designing the brass legs, worked on it based on “how best to process the legs with brass in order to respond to the expansion of the board, as well as the conditions of the installing location”.
Looking at the finished top plate, I am happy that we were able to add “the charm of wood” into “meaningful design”, and also that they can touch the sensibilities of the users. 

Abe Kozo
CEO of KITOKURASHI CO., LTD

When I wash my body in the bath, I normally use a soap bar. It’s a common story that as you make a form with a soap with hands, it slips and pops out of your hands. It happens as a result of the corners melting and becoming rounded by rolling them many times in our hands, ending up with a very smooth shape. In my opinion, this shape of melted soap is getting closer to the human shape. If the part of the table coming into contact with human skin (e.g., table corners) shapes into something like this, I thought it would create a comfortable surface. That’s why we named it Soap R. Normally, a corner of the table is specified as 2R or 3R, or sometimes 10R with a table with a large surface. In the case of Soap R, we like the idea that “it can not be expressed numerically but anyone can imagine what it refers to”.
When it comes to making a table, I could not think of anyone better than Mr. Abe. That is why I turned to him for advice, but as a result, the finish was far beyond my expectation …! I mainly talked about Soap R, but the other tables were also finished beautifully, which makes you want to touch them all the time.
At CIC, business people who are at the forefront of the times are having extremely innovative discussions, but at the same time time, they are all unconsciously rubbing the wood gently … I cannot wait to stretch my imagination over that kind of scene.

Hideaki Asaoka
Hidakuma


 

CIC Tokyo
CIC Tokyo, one of the largest innovation centers, launched on the 15/16th floors of Toranmon Hills Business Tower on October 1, 2020 (6,000m2). The site offers a vast workspace for over 250 companies and organizations including start-up companies, providing communities and services to grow for business as well as to accelerate global development.
https://jp.cic.com/en/


 

Text: Rina Ishizuka

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