Giving shape to the best work that I can do [Rengeso Motomachi Studio]


Making things
Takumi's landscape

The scene of this issue
[Occupation] Furniture craftsman
[Takumi name] Rengeso Motomachi Kobo Katsuto Uchida
[Location] Yokohama/Shin-Yamashita

Carefully, carefully, and thoughtfully.
A corner that introduces manufacturing sites that make use of handicrafts.
This time, it is said that three generations of parents and children can continue to use it.
Yokohama furniture. More than 150 years have passed since the opening of Yokohama Port,
We still inherit technology and culture and manufacture custom furniture.
We went to Rengeso Motomachi Kobo, which repairs furniture.

With the opening of Yokohama Port, the history of "Yokohama Furniture" began with the repair of Western furniture brought across the ocean. Japan's woodworking techniques, which have long cultivated a culture of wood, gained popularity, and soon Japanese people began making full-fledged Western furniture. The only workshop that inherits the history of Yokohama furniture, ``Rengeso Motomachi Kobo,'' is lined with high-quality solid wood. The reason why we are particular about materials is ``Quality, not quantity. We believe that by interacting with high-grade wood, we can further improve craftsmanship and provide furniture in the best possible condition.'' He also said, ``Our job as craftsmen is not to be artists, but to provide the technology to make our customers' ideas a reality.'' Even today, in this place, the best work is being done to create masterpieces that will make someone smile.

``Rengeso Motomachi Kobo'' is located in the warehouse district of Shin-Yamashita, close to Yokohama Port and above which the Shuto Expressway Kariba Line runs. Founded in 2001. We visited Katsuto Uchida, a furniture craftsman with an unusual background who was originally a fashion designer.

The spacious workshop with high ceilings is lined with natural solid wood. As soon as you step inside, you'll be greeted by a cool atmosphere, and at the same time, the overflowing scent of wood tickles your nose.

It was 10 a.m., and craftsmen were already working on the wood at the Rengeso Motomachi Workshop.

First, let's ask Mr. Uchida about "Yokohama Furniture."

Let's go back in time to more than 150 years ago, when the port of Yokohama opened. Along with many Westerners, "Western furniture" came to Yokohama all the way across the ocean. It is said that ``Yokohama furniture'' began by repairing ``Western furniture'' that Westerners brought to Japan for use. Westerners are surprised to find that Japanese craftsmen repair furniture better than they imagined. It was far superior to the native machine in terms of accuracy, speed, and cost. Gradually, the skill of Japanese craftsmen gained acclaim, and they started not only repairing but also making furniture.

So, what is “Yokohama furniture”? …“To be honest, there is not much difference between Yokohama furniture and other Western furniture.After that, furniture was made to Japanese specifications in various parts of Japan, but here in Yokohama, we changed the way it was made. There was no need for it. There was no need to evolve it to Japanese specifications because there were many foreigners living in the Yamate area, and this was also the furniture they used."

``It may sound bad to say that it hasn't evolved, but it means that the best style for making furniture was firmly established.If I had to answer the question, ``What is Yokohama Furniture?'', it would be ``Yokohama Furniture.'' Of course, while the techniques have been inherited, Rengeso Motomachi Kobo has evolved to create furniture that suits the lifestyles of modern people (lol).

Mr. Uchida says so. As mentioned earlier, his unusual career story is also interesting. Since childhood, I have been interested in things such as design, architecture, and interior design, and I have always loved creating things. Because he loved clothes, he dreamed of presenting his work at Paris Fashion Week and became a fashion designer for a major apparel manufacturer. However, a few years later, he began to have doubts about the system of division of labor that is unique to major companies, and quit his job. While I was absentmindedly watching TV at home during my leave of absence, I saw a furniture craftsman silently pulling a planer under a bare light bulb, and I thought, ``This is it!'' He decided to express himself by changing the material from cloth to wood. He immediately attended a vocational training school where he was exposed to furniture making, and got a job at a furniture shop in Motomachi, Yokohama. Surprisingly, the person in the furniture shop's workshop was the same craftsman working under the bare light bulb that had been shown on the TV that had made Mr. Uchida decide to become a furniture craftsman. ``Wow! I was so excited to see that craftsman I saw on TV right in front of me.He was an ace and a No. 4 batter among the craftsmen.So naturally I would get good materials. , a good job would come. I was jealous of that, and as I silently worked on wood cutting (milling logs and large pieces of wood into lumber of the required size and quality), I thought strongly that I wanted to be like that someday. I remember that at the time, there was no one on the shop floor to teach us how to make furniture, so all we had to do was learn by watching how our seniors made furniture.''

``My master was in a warehouse, right? There were a lot of finished products stored there.There were times when I would break down finished furniture with a crowbar to see how they were made (lol).''

After that, after more than ten years of experience, he established "Rengeso Motomachi Kobo". ``I decided to create this workshop with the desire not to extinguish the flame of Yokohama furniture, but also to foster young people.I want to inherit the Yokohama furniture technology that has been around for over 150 years, revive it, and prosper. If my presence can be even a little bit of fertilizer...With that in mind, I chose the name of my shop after ``Lotus grass,'' a flower that fertilizes the fields.''

What is Mr. Uchida particular about when making and repairing furniture? When I asked him, he answered immediately. "Customers are number one. We always try to express our own taste within the framework set by the customer. Craftsmen are not artists. We must accurately understand the customer's needs and respond to them with all our might. We make those requests a reality. We believe that we are here to provide the technology that will help you achieve this goal. All you have to do is give form to the best work that you can...that's all you have to do!"

This is a TV stand that is waiting for the day it will be delivered to the customer. This work was created by Mr. Uchida. While sticking to a simple design that expresses the gentle wood grain, clean lines, and beauty of solid wood, we added playful elements such as marquetry and glasswork.

This stool, which is currently under construction, is named "Posture." This is a rocking chair made for long hours of desk work. This chair was created in response to complaints from staff working at desks in the workshop that their shoulders and lower backs hurt.

This is a cushion chair with graceful lines that is one of the characteristics of Yokohama furniture. When you gingerly rest your body on the ultra-thin backrest, it bends comfortably and has been carefully calculated to reduce the strain on your lower back.

Finally, we asked Mr. Uchida about his dreams for the future. ..."I want to make furniture without borders. Free furniture that is not bound by categories such as Western furniture or Japanese furniture, and is made with only the customer's satisfaction in mind. From the port of Yokohama to overseas. Over 150 years ago ``Yokohama Furniture,'' which has its roots in furniture that came across the ocean to Japan, now crosses the ocean and becomes furniture that gently blends into the lifestyle of a foreign land... It would be great if it became something like that.''

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