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Forest Bank Shows the Value of the Environment
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Outline

A table manufactured by “Forest Bank,” decorates the Nagoya branch of Asanuma Gumi, which was completed after renovation work on September 16, 2021. Their material was created by the design office “studio yumakano” during their stay in Hida. The building is one of the first “GOOD CYCLE BUILDING” projects to create a “cycle that is good for both people and the earth”. The building was designed jointly by Nori Architects and the Department of Design at Asanuma Gumi, who give values in resource recycling throughout the project.

Unlike wooden materials such as boards, the Forest Bank has the characteristic of being able to materialize and utilize the entire forest. This includes so-called forest residue left over from logging sites, as well as forest elements such as nuts, rotting wood, and roots. Hidakuma was in charge of procuring the forest materials, designing the details, and directing the production of the tabletop. The materials collected from the Hida forest and the logging site of the Yoshino cedar used for the Asanuma Gumi Nagoya branch facade were brought to the manufacturing base, and all Hidakuma members worked together with Kano and others involved in the project to produce the tabletop.

[Project Overview]

  • Support Details: Design proposals, manufacturing, production direction, and procurement of  forest materials
  • Period: June – August 2021
  • Team Organization:
    • Client: studio yumakano|Yuma Kano
    • Production direction: Chikako Kadoi (Hidakuma Inc. )
    • Production: studio yumakano|Yuma Kano, TAKT PROJECT、Chikako Kadoi・Takeya Shida・Hideaki Asaoka・Kosuke Kuroda・Tsuyosi Matsumoto・Kotaro Iwaoka (Hidakuma Inc. ), Nori Architects, Hida Shokunin Seikatsu (Furniture manufacturing & design), Artistry co.,ltd
    • Production cooperation: Nishino Seizaisho (Lumber manufacturing), Hida City Forestry Association, Kamioka Forestry Cooperative, Yoshinori Okada

What is GOOD CYCLE BUIⅼDING?

This is a project to realize the renewal business brand “ReQuality”, which Asanuma Gumi launched based on the concept of “good cycle for people and the earth”. Asanuma Gumi’s Nagoya branch renovation project is the first flagship of this project. The renovation of the Asanuma Gumi Nagoya branch is the first project of the flagship project. The renovation utilizes the existing building frame and environmentally friendly building materials to present a sustainable construction industry that brings about a good cycle for the earth.

GOOD CYCLE BUILDING 001 Asanuma Gumi Nagoya Branch Renovation Project
参考URL:https://www.goodcycle.pro/

Outputs

The Unique Expression of the Forest That Can Only Be Found in the Cross-section of the Time

Forest Bank is a material that contains various elements of the forest, including large and small branches, leaves, bark, and nuts. Materials from the forest are mixed with Jesmonite, a water-based acrylic resin free of organic solvents, and hardened as aggregate. The main feature of this sculpture is the outline of the material that appears in the cross section. The countless contours change according to the degree of processing. The top panel inevitably has an expression that can only be encountered at any given time.

The cross-section of a wooden board seems somewhat familiar, perhaps because it has been integrated into our daily lives. On the other hand, the unique cross-sections given from various angles to branches, leaves, and pine cones stimulate the imagination. The top panel, which contains countless unique contours, seems to have been brought directly from a section of the “environment” of the forest, whether it is a pool of water in the forest, the top soil, or the soil itself. The name “environmental element” may be more appropriate than the functional name “top board.

<Specifications>
Materials:
Aggregate: Forest elements (wood chips, branches, leaves, tree seeds, roots, bark of Amur cork and other trees, scraps of Yoshino cedar, chips, soil, charcoal, scraps of ceiling material generated during the renovation of Asanuma Gumi Nagoya Branch, etc.)
Resin: Jesmonite
Size: φ800 x 1 unit, φ1200 x 7 units, φ1500 x 1 unit
Finish: Urethane matte paint

Process

Touching and Experimenting with the Forest itself in Hida and Yoshino

The materials used for the Forest Bank are not just from the hardwood forests of Hida. Kano visited the logging site of the 130-year-old Yoshino cedar tree used for the facade of Asanuma Gumi’s Nagoya branch. The idea was to use materials for the table top that are not normally used for building materials or furniture, such as scraps of Yoshino cedar, branches, and soil.

In June, we went to Hida to research the forest site where we would be making the table. We visited the satoyama landscape in Hida Furukawa, nicknamed “Okada’s Forest”. Since what is in the forest differ depending on the season, Kano and we took a walk through the forest looking for materials that could be used as aggregate.

Kano and Kadoi of Hidakuma examining the amount of aggregate.

Using the materials brought back from “Okada’s Forest”, we discussed the manufacturing process at FabCafe Hida. One of the nice things about FabCafe Hida is that you can freely cut the materials you procured and experiment on the spot as you please.

Verifying how the liquid stain changes depending on the finish and other factors.

At the same time, we also verified the density of the aggregate we were aiming for, the amount of aggregate needed for that, the depth of the formwork needed for the ideal finish, and the finishing coating. The formwork was designed with safety and efficiency in mind, taking into account various scenes that would occur during production. When the Jet-Nite is poured and hardened, each top plate weighs 100 kg prior to cutting stage. To make it easier to transport by forklift, a gap was made for the forklift to fit in, and a beam was threaded through it like a portable shrine to make it easier to move by hand depending on the situation.

Once the amount of aggregate was set, Hidakuma began to procure the materials. With the cooperation of the local forest union and lumber companies, we procured a wide variety of materials.

Speedy and Physical Production

From this point on, the production process reached its peak. We mixed Jesmonite with aggregate, poured it into a mold, hardened it, and then CNC-machined it into a top panel. And all this project was conducted in scorching July. All the Hidakuma members, along with Kano who stayed at FabCafe Hida, repeated the process of mixing and pouring the materials every day.

Mixing Jesmonite and aggregate. Speed is of the key as the hardening process quickly progresses.

Careful and bold pouring.

Adjusting the placement of the aggregate. The aggregate that would be the key to the facial expression was placed later.

Striking the formwork to remove air bubbles. This is another important process that affects the finished product.

Putting on the weights. We feel the heat the Jesmonite gives off when it hardens.

Checking the finish with everyone.

When pouring Jesmonite into the frame, the aggregate itself gets covered and turns white. everything becomes invisible, but we control the placement of the aggregate while relying on the texture. At first glance, it may seem that anyone can produce the same result, but Kano’s meticulous adjustment of the placement of the aggregate and the amount of soil to be mixed greatly affects the finished product.

Local craftsmen sometimes join in the work, and local lumber businessmen also take a peek at the work. Asanuma Gumi, architect Kawashima-san, Jesmonite’s import agent, and others involved in the project also came to support us.

One of the hardened top panels was tested by a craftsman in Hida. This is to make it clear what issues remain unsolved before sending the products over to Artistry, who will be CNC processing the product into a large diameter plate. Because of the many variables and the newness of Forest Bank, it is difficult to measure the degree of perfection of this material, but the project staff participated in the test processing to make sure we were on the same page.

Forest Bank is highly flexible as a material and can be processed using the same methods and machines as wood processing. In this sense, the fact that the Forest Bank is processed by a variety of people, in other words, the fact that we attempted CNC processing based on the experience of hand processing in this project, was a challenge to show the potential of the Forest Bank as a material.

At Artistry

A total of nine Forest Bank tables decorate the reborn Asanuma Gumi Nagoya branch. The two forests, Hida and Yoshino, that appear on the tables are sure to tickle the imagination and curiosity of everyone who takes a seat. We hope that this will be the beginning of a better cycle for people and the earth.

Members

Yuma Kano
studio yumakano Design Director / Designer

Yuma Kano, born in 1988 in Japan. Graduated from the department of design at Tokyo Zokei University. Founded studio yumakano after working as an assistant to artist Yasuhiro Suzuki. Based out of Tokyo in what was once a shipyard in the mid-19th century, bringing the old environment to life through product design, product planning, brand direction, interior planning, artwork, and other projects. Aims to inspire a fun, creative world where everyone is able to find new possibilities by exploring unnoticed aspects of the everyday. Received major awards including; Good Design Award, IFFT Young Designer Award, German Design Award.
https://yumakano.com/ 

Atsuki Ohnishi
Artistry Co.
Sales Development Manager
Creative Director / 5-axis CNC operator

Born in Ise City in 1985. After graduating from Nagoya University of Arts, he studied woodworking at Kashiwa Woodworks and joined Artistry in 2015. After working as a furniture craftsman and 5-axis operator, he became a sales representative. He has been involved in a number of challenging projects. He has made it his life mission to “make a job involving woodwork one of the top 10 jobs people want to have” and continues to promote the appeal of manufacturing.
http://www.artistry.co.jp/

Chikako Kadoi
Hidakuma Inc.
Forest Creative Director

Completed the Department of Inter-media Art, Graduate School of Fine Arts, Tokyo University of the Arts. Ms. Kadoi has multiple experiences in event decoration, store interior space design and communication design at a space design company. She joined Hidakuma, whose wish is to create a  “forest rich enough for bears to dance happily”. She is fascinated by the long-term communication of the relationship between people and the forest, as well as the community and value development that the company aims at. She dreams of dancing with a bear. 

Member’s Voice

ForestBank materials were originally born from the concept of expressing the richness and beauty of forests as they are. In this project, not only materials from the forest, but also scrap wood and leftover soil from construction sites were mixed in for practical use. The finished top panel shows a completely original pattern that is a mixture of “raw materials from the forest” and “artificially processed wood from the construction site. I believe that not only the materials from the forest and the site, but also the various “memories” of the people involved in this project are enclosed in this material.

Wood is an indispensable material for people’s lives. I am looking forward to the birth of new Forest Banks through various projects in the future.

Yuma Kano
studio yumakano Design Director / Designer

For this project, Mr. Kano and Ms. Kadoi stayed at the Artistry factory for a few days, and we had a session together to make the product.

We were impressed by their serious yet excited expressions, like a child searching for a beetle, as they searched for memories of the forest by scraping the surface little by little. This made us smile, and we realized once again that this is what the joy of manufacturing is all about.

Forest Bank was an unknown material for us as well, but it was a very valuable time for us to take up a challenge with them. Thank you very much.

Atsuki Ohnishi
Artistry Inc.
Sales Development Manager

Forest Bank is like a puddle of water in the forest at any given time, and the forest of the region and the season in which it is collected are directly expressed. This time, we all went into Okada’s forest and were allowed to freely pick up materials from the forest. I think this is a material to be used as long as there is someone who can show us how to bring the forest and people closer.

In addition, the production process, except for the cutting stage, was relatively open to anyone who wanted to participate as a “creator”. I thought it was important to be able to become a “user” of the products, while I was originally involved as a “creator.

It’s exciting to imagine that there will be many more Forest Banks in the future.

Chikako Kadoi
Hidakuma Inc.
Forest Creative Director

Photo: Kenta Hasegawa

Would you like to select your own hardwoods in Hida and create interior spaces and furniture?

Hidakuma will harness their wealth of knowledge about trees to connect you with Hida forest and Hida craftsmen and will support your product development. Do you want to join us to create products born from the forest?
For enquiries see here.