With this being the fourth time, we received 232 applicants both from domestic and foreign. We had 242 applications in the previous event, so the number decreased slightly. Looking from the breakdown, we have 54 foreign applicants, 1.5 times more compared to the previous event, and the participating countries increased from 16 countries to 26 countries as well. It certainly feels like Hida, as a furniture-producing region, is becoming known to the world through this award.
Looking through the entries this time, I get the impression that the entries are getting better. The other judges and external advisors also share the same impression. However, we cannot find an entry that stands out above the rest, so we cannot give the most excellent award this time. Our discussion led to us increasing the award of excellence by one slot and increasing prize money, as well as adding and giving a new award, the special award.
Like before, there are a lot of young applicants including students this time as well. We, as the organizers, expect that this award can become a contact point for designers who will collaborate in the future. Among the various materials in the world, we wonder just how much potential is contained in wood. We hope that they will continue participating in this award so that it may help them become more interested in wooden products and furniture.
Among the winners, there are three people from foreign countries worth a special mention. All personal information are set aside during the judging, so this was not on purpose. We wish to continue making this award bigger with participants from various regions and generations.
We have selected for entries to receive the award of excellence. "Arch" is acknowledged for its unique shape with the back of the chair becoming one with the back legs. The "cat chair," which creates a new space under the back of the chair, presented a new way of thinking of sharing the chair with cats. "MOO-KUU" went beyond the concept of furniture and directly conveys the charm of wood. "Matsuri-gi" invokes a sense of empathy from the contrast born of its gentle shape and its well-ordered wood grains that reminds us of talisman ropes
"I love dining" is acknowledged for its fresh form and its creativity. However, we anticipate strength issues with the prototype, so after a discussion among the judges, we decided to give a special award.
We selected three entries to receive the encouragement award, meant for students and entrants below 30. "COROMO" is a new proposition for floor chairs. "CHAeRful" is a two-in-one chair and exercise equipment. "Wooden interest" was quite fresh with its fun assembly process.
In the previous general comment, I stated that after the third time, I have begun to see this contest's personality and the way it should be. Now that a year had passed, looking back on it together with the current results, I believe that the entry number and presentation level are coming together more and more.
As the organizer, I will strive to accept the feelings that the entrants injected into their entries and consider making the winning masterpieces into actual products and send them out to the world. I want to give my best efforts to continually improve this contest so that it will one day become a gateway to success for domestic and foreign creators, and so that Hida will become one large holy ground for furniture-making.
Lastly, I would like to extend my gratitude towards the participants, external advisors, journalists who covered the contest, and everyone else involved.
Thank you very much.
HIDA WOOD WORKING FEDERATION
Photo Sadao Hotta
Yoko Ando (Textile Designer,Textile Coordinator)
This is the first time I experienced many of the works of the Hida furniture award first hand, and I was impressed by the fact that many submissions were designed not only for the furniture itself, but also for the space in which the furniture is used, and for the ease of use of people. When collaborating with architects, I routinely think about the role that textiles play within a space, and when I look at the relationship between furniture, lifestyle and space, I can clearly see the common points between excellent furniture and textiles. It was a very interesting experience. I was a little surprised to learn that all of the winners were men, but all eight winners, including those from overseas, invoked a feeling of uniqueness and rich variety.
Motomi Kawakami (Designer)
Several prototypes from the winning works were shown previously, but when I looked again at the completed full-scale prototypes, they were even better than what I had first imagined. When a good design becomes a reality, it reveals itself very clearly, and confirms again the high level of technological strength of the manufacturer producing it. I would definitely like you to fine tune these and make them a marketable product. Well, this years submissions mostly delivered a wide variety of quality items, and within a limited format the technology of the presentations has improved. But there were many works where I wanted to be shown not only the ideas, but also the details needed to realise the work. This time, there was no one work that stood out from all the other works, so the top prize could not be selected, but there were many fine works that had directly competing aspects. The concept of chairs has been expanding, and the number of interesting ideas have increased, but I expect that this competition will serve not only to promote the local industry, but also as a means to gather together entry designs that people will want. The history of wooden furniture has been long. In an overwhelming number of entries the chairs not only fulfil the simple function of allowing people to sit down, but also include interesting details that reflect the social backdrop of each era. Even though the submissions were considered from a number of different approaches, including function and visuals, and concept in response to the era, there were still many similarities in the details, and I realized again the difficulty of creating a standout work. Overall, the works that left me with a lasting impression were "matsuri-gi", the new symbolic shrine made to fit in with the modern lifestyle, and the tea table “Wooden Interest” and “Su Bamboo Ring Chair” entries from Taiwan. Maybe it is a reflection of the Internet era, but the rapid increase in applications from overseas seems to be an indication that furniture in Hida Takayama has been recognized especially in the Asian region, and is an encouraging trend looking to the future. We hope that many more excellent works will be gathered here, and that the furniture industry in Takayama will be bright.
Hiroshi Tsuruta (Representative Director of REAL Style Inc.)
The overall level of the 4th annual design contest held this year seems to have improved from last year. It was a great pleasure to see many powerful works by young people in their early twenties and thirties, including students from home and abroad, among the entries. I have advised not only about the design but also on market viability, but I think that all the winning works have a great potential for distribution through a variety of channels. I would like to make a general comment in anticipation of the many future successes of the award-winners.
Yasushi Yamazaki (To-Ryu-Mon Brand director of JDN Inc.)
As a whole, I get the impression that the entries have improved on average. However, we could not find a "most excellent entry" able to make a breakthrough. Being able to see fresh, new shapes of chair, and endeavors towards modern themes like new ritual articles and altar equipment was quite worth it. Sometimes, I feel that it may be difficult to create a new idea using wood, a material that has existed along mankind for a long time. I wish to meet something that would blow away this worry of mine.
HIDA WOOD WORKING FEDERATION