For the second Hida Furniture® Award held this year, we received as many as 576 entries from Japan and overseas. The number of entries increased by 163% from 353 entries received last year. Within those entries, 224 entries were sent from overseas across 33 countries and regions. The applicants were mostly in their 20s, as was the case last year. We are very pleased that Hida furniture is now recognized by more and more people in the world. The purpose of this contest was not only to develop new products but also to make Hida and its furniture known to the current generation. We feel a sense of fulfillment that we were able to at least achieve the latter purpose.
On the other hand, unfortunately, we were unable to select the Grand Prize (1st Prize). Furthermore, although we secured three spots for Excellent Prize (2nd Prize) recipients, only one of the spots was fulfilled. We are regretful that the result turned out this way despite expectations of many people. While each judge evaluated all entries in a sincere manner, the result was determined from a perspective of commercialization.
We awarded the Excellent Prize to 「LEAF CHIR」. While we anticipate some challenges in the commercialization process, its elegant contour motivated the judges to take up the challenges. The Incentive Prize, which is given to students and designers under the age of 30, was awarded to a lounge chair 「Angle chair」and a pendant lamp 「Komore-Bi」, and we look forward to their future achievements as furniture designers.
As a whole, many applicants submitted attractive designs. However, when we considered the compatibility with Hida’s wood techniques, mass production with consistent quality and acceptance in the market, the number of entries that met the criteria for “consideration of commercialization” was smaller than last year.
Upon reflection of the lessons learned, we as the organizer may have not disseminated enough information about Hida’s wood techniques and characteristics, which is obvious to us but may not be to others. This year, we offered a tour of the factory and showroom for the first time. In addition, we hope to create opportunities to show everyone the prototypes we created for the last year’s prize-winning designs. We will continue to put our efforts in enhancing and improving this contest with an aim to someday create a gateway to success for designers in Japan and overseas, and to make Hida a hallowed-ground for furniture production.
Lastly, we would like to express our gratitude to all the applicants, outside advisors, members of the press who covered the event and others involved in the contest.
HIDA WOOD WORKING FEDERATION
The increase in the number of entries shows greater expectations toward Hida. On the other hand, I believe there were a number of proposals with insufficient ideas and presentation and proposals lacking the knowledge of wood as a material or woodworking techniques. We may need to consider some improvement measures such as making the contest more appealing in order to gain more attention from young professionals and people interested in furniture, by offering higher prize money, setting up genres, creating student category and so on. This is because as I understand the goal of the contest is to revitalize Hida as a place for furniture production and introduce Japanese furniture to the world. We will be able to achieve this goal by finding designers with new talent who seek superior designs and lead the future, although this may take some time.
Mitsuko Kuroda (Style Director/interior director/stylist/design writer)
I made recommendations on the proposed furniture pieces, from a standpoint of the image of furniture installed in a space, compatibility with modern life, whether it was a likely design but didn’t exist before, whether the design was simple and likable, and so on. I thought it would be nice to select furniture intended for use and installation in a household. There were many proposals which I favored, but to be selected for the award, they may have required a little more technical perspective in order to turn a design into a product. As I am involved in interior styling on a daily basis, I feel as though there is furniture that is essential in modern life but does not exist yet. This award might be able to become an opportunity to bring forth such furniture.
Chiaki Hayashi (Representative Director of Loftwork Inc. and CEO of Hidakuma Inc.)
I had the impression that we received broader range of proposals than the last contest. I felt more proposals focused on pursuing new functions and uses that wooden furniture might be able to offer than the beauty of design. For example, one of the entries proposed a piece of furniture that created a connection between a parent and a child to sit together. Another entry proposed a piece that changed how people moved. Unfortunately, those proposals did not take into account the characteristics of wood. People with these new ideas feel “I want to use wood. I want to know wood, but I don’t have the knowledge now.” I feel the need to change that situation. If a wide range of people come in contact with the craftmanship which is handed down through many generations, new uses will be discovered. I hope this award evolves in such way.
Yasushi Yamazaki (To-Ryu-Mon Brand director of JDN Inc.)
As the number of entries far exceeded the entries received last year, I believe we were able to spread the Hida brand within Japan and across the world. On the other hand, the outcome of the contest was unfortunate in terms of finding designs that will open the door to the next generation as well as creating touch points with designers. As I am involved in planning and organizing this contest, I will continue to look for ways to make improvements for next year with the organizer, taking into account the various lessons learned. I hope to make this event better so that Hida will be further recognized as a hallowed-ground for furniture production. Your continued support and attention will be appreciated.
HIDA WOOD WORKING FEDERATION