The Saji Chair - Ash veneer and mild steel
Sitting in the emergency room after sustaining a somewhat minor chisel wound to her forearm, Laura Kishimoto calmly taught those around her to fold origami parabolas. The injury was a small price to pay in fabricating her latest design, Saji Chair, a marvel of geometry not far off from the parabolas she was creating that night.
A senior in the Department of Furniture Design at the Rhode Island School of Design, Kishimoto often looks to geometry for inspiration, an influence that is evident throughout her work. President of the Origami Club in high school, half-Japanese Kishimoto has been toying with the limits of paper to create new forms from a young age.
Close up of Leaf Chair, made from craft paper, epoxy resin, expanding foam, mild steel
Star Weaving, wooden dowels and elastic bands
"Geometry is both a tool and a crutch in my design process," says Kishimoto. "I find it impossible to create an original idea without some foundation to build upon. Geometry is very useful in this respect since it is an established system of rules, easily broken down into logical patterns. Its abundance in the natural world also irretrievably links to our subconscious conception of beauty."
Working in the determined system of mathematics, Kishimoto tries to break that sense of predictability to maintain an element of intrigue. By adapting a more intuitive process, she strives to create unique forms in each piece that departs from the expected to arrive at unparalleled results.
Below are three of her projects, the Yumi Chair, Tessellation Cabinet, and Nautilus.
Yumi Chair is constructed through several free-formed pieces of bent laminated ash that were bound with wedges to create natural curves.
"Physical interaction through the function of furniture is the most straightforward and immediately rewarding," said Kishimoto. "However, I am drawn to the emotional and intellectual impact furniture has on a person." Kishimoto believes that intriguing furniture can and should reach a level of abstraction that offers an entirely new experience for the viewer.
To create this three-dimensional dynamic surface, Kishimoto first designed a flat patten out of felt and meticulously looped it around a wooden lattice to create the front panel. The actual body of the cabinet curves in and out, allowing the front panel to form a hyperbolic surface.
Kishimoto considers Nautilus to be a first triumph in her own battle of designer against material. In relaxing her design process, she was able to let the flexibility of the veneer determine the final form—arriving at an unexpected discovery. "[By] letting go some degree of control, I was able to gain understanding into one of the most profound and striking formations of nature," said Kishimoto.
"I never start a project with a specific intention in mind," said Kishimoto. "I usually begin by revisiting a previous project or imitating a process that inspires me. Without the pressure of creating an original design, I often physically gain insight that I could never have blindly conceptualized."
Floral box, hard maple
Kishimoto just completed an internship for Matthias Pliessnig, a RISD Furniture alumnus in Rhode Island, and is set to graduate this Spring.