Denfair is the annual Australian design industry event that brings together the best local and international brands in furniture, lighting, art and accessories. This year, KE-ZU is proudly presenting a dedicated axona AICHI stand, with head designer Taku Kumazawa in attendance. Taku designs the high-end contract furniture for axona AICHI, which embody his ethos for durable, multifunctional and ultra-eco-friendly products. Taku has been a frequent recipient of the Japanese Good Design Award and was awarded the AIT Innovation Award at Orgatec 2012. His products are also award winners, including the elegant stacking chair Tipo, which has won a Red Dot Design Award and Green Good Design Award. Above - Tipo Chair We spoke to Taku in the lead up to Denfair 2018, to learn more about the designer and the brand.
Let’s start at the beginning. What inspired you to become a designer?
​My father designed products and had a strong influence on me as a child. I grew up in a situation where I needed to make my own toys, hence I have always needed to think about design as a factor in my daily life since I was a little boy.
What did you study?
I studied industrial product design at Nagoya University of Arts where I shared a great common interest with my professor in sustainable design and welfare. Accordingly, I took account of this theme and applied it to all of my assignments.
When did you join axona AICHI?
​I joined AICHI in 1994 and introduced new design concepts with not only new appearances and aesthetics, but also new functions and construction.
Do you have a design ethos that drives your approach?
I like to think that my design legacy is how my simple and aesthetic design approach to construction contains functions that are beautifully harmonised.
Why do you believe sustainable design is important and how is axona AICHI leading the way?
​The resources of our earth are very limited. I do believe that even we can only do a small thing, if we make an effort, it can be possible to develop or change our environment. When I joined AICHI 25 years ago, I struggled to make my managers understand sustainable design issues that I studied and pursued at university. However, I continued to study and work on these themes, and sustainable design has since been integral to my product concept.
What are some ways you and axona AICHI are pushing sustainable design further?
​At AICHI we constantly study ways in which we can only use recyclable and recycled material as much as possible; improve the strength and durability to extend the product life cycle; create timeless designs; and set trends that open up new lifestyle possibilities in the way we work and live. I am always exploring conventional and new techniques to provide the world with leading sustainable-design products. I even design new packaging that not only is 100-per-cent recyclable but also reduces the impact of freight on our precious environment. Who else delivers 40 chairs in a single cardboard box?
What project are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of our Tipo chair. I aspire to setting new recycling standards in the world furniture industry, and the Tipo chair is the definitive eco-friendly product made of 100-per-cent recycled resin material. The global success of the Tipo high-density stacking sled chair enabled the ongoing development of numerous versatile variations, which have provided innovative and economic solutions to space planning and daily life whether in offices, educational facilities, conference centres, and even places of worship. Another interesting aspect to this story is the variety of ecological materials. The mesh material is made of fully 100-per-cent recycled knitted yarn from reclaimed PET bottles. All the resin parts, including the back, seat and glides, ​are 100-per-cent recycled PP. Naturally, all components are recyclable, and the simple construction enables easy disassembly into each material type.
W​hat are you looking forward to at Denfair?
I’m looking forward to hearing designer feedback and market evaluation of my latest development, X50. I want to discover more about Australian environmental needs and values in design. Above - Sneak peek - The new X50 chair features a unique flexible seat membrane that moulds to the user for added comfort.
What do you think of the high standard of commercial projects by Australian designers?
​During my first trip to Australia, I became aware of the design label on interiors, architecture, and furniture and that Australian designers and customers expect a high standard. The inspired design work by Australian designers on many commercial projects is seen across the globe as setting new directions in sustainable work environments. I’m extremely pleased that products I have designed have been evaluated and specified under these conditions. A big thank you, Australian designers. And a big thank you to you, Taku. We look forward to presenting you and axona AICHI at Denfair. If you’re attending Denfair 2018, KE-ZU would love to see you. Make sure to stop by to say hello, meet Taku and enjoy the products. Also keep an eye out for our social media competition, #zumoments.