Chitagun, Aichi, Japan
“The bespoke pieces are characterized by the flowing lines of skeletal timber frames and pads of soft upholstery,” states Norman Foster.
“Refined by Karimoku’s special quality of craftsmanship, each element is distinguished by blended forms and subtle transitions of grain.”
When American Prize for Design laureate Norman Foster designed the recent Foster Retreat in Martha’s Vineyard as a holiday home for his friends and those of the Norman Foster Foundation, he called upon Japanese-based Karimoku Furniture Company and Danish-based Norm Architects to produce the unique timber range furniture to fit into the context of the home as a complement to the total architecture.
Frederik Alexander Werner, designer and partner at Norm Architects, creatively directed the design collaboration and new collection.
“The furniture is soft and playful. While the architecture is strong and sharp, the furniture has a really soft design language. It relates more to human touch and human proportions. It’s the perfect balance,” states Werner.
Karimoku’s attention to detail, high level of craftsmanship and proven record of beautifully crafting wooden furniture made them a natural choice for this project.
The company understood the importance of storytelling through design and the delicate relationship between furniture and architectural space.
The architect-designed furniture collection that tells the story of the setting for which they were created.
The new seven-piece NF Collection includes:
The Dining Chair (NF-DC01) is designed through a continuous exploration of form and ergonomics, in search of a balance between the two. The distinctive frame and organic transitions give the dining chair a refined complexity.
The Backless Stool (NF-BS01) showcases the soft transition of the NF Collection with its blended timber joints. The stool’s simple composition and proportions are balanced and timeless.
The High-back stool (NF-BS02) is designed to provide extra support and comfort while maintaining the distinctive design language of the NF Collection.
The stool is characterized by its upholstered back and tapering timber frame which gives its elegant stance.
The Lounge Chair (NF-LC01) is designed with softness and comfort at its heart. The internal upholstery is inviting and provides overall cushioning.
The low seat of the lounge chair together with its soft, rounded upholstery and crafted timber details create a chair that is sophisticated yet friendly.
The Sofa (NF-S01) has a distinctive silhouette born out of the lounge chair.
However, with its deeper seat, and thicker backrest, the sofa is more generous and luxurious.
The expressive timber frame ties the sofa to the NF Collection and expresses the exceptional craftsmanship of Karimoku.
The Dining Table (NF-DT01) has a simple silhouette and refined geometry that are characteristic of the NF Collection.
The soft corners embrace the language of the NF-DC01, whose sloping armrests tuck neatly into the matching angle on the table’s underside.
“Wood was the obvious choice not only for reasons of sustainability but also as a direct reference to the traditional buildings that characterize the island,” explains Foster.
In terms of the Foster-designed residence, the home was formed from a series of angled steel beams that are connected by timber beams with smooth timber louvers enclosing an outdoor patio space.
The home’s shape was informed by North American barn structures, with large amounts of timber chosen to reference Martha’s Vineyard’s traditional wood-boarded structures and its sustainability credentials.
“The retreat takes inspiration from the generous wooden barn structures of North America and combines that tradition of timber construction with a small amount of steel in the form of skinny portal frames which touch the ground lightly,” explains Foster.
“Wood was the obvious choice not only for reasons of sustainability but also as a direct reference to the traditional buildings that characterize the island.”
Inside the building, the holiday home has white walls with pale wood panels and wooden floors.
The complete NF Collection designed by Foster will be launched later.
Project: NF Collection
Architects: Foster + Partners and Norm Architects
Manufacturer: Karimoku Furniture Company
Photographers: Chuck Choi, Courtesy Norman Foster Foundation