Last week, we posted a set of wooden knives and posed the age-old question, "Yea or Nay?" (I, for one, was curious as to how FDRL bonded the metal blades to the wood; based on a verso photo on their site, it looks like they're actually riveted.)
In any case, Andrea Ponti does them one better. The Italian designer set up shop in Japan after completing his degree at the Politecnico in Milan and his latest project, a series of ultra high-end, handcrafted-in-Kyoto wooden knives, is known as "Fusion" not for their physical attributes—they're made of solid wood—but for their twofold cultural inspiration:
East and West. Industrial design and craftsmanship. Two cultures and two design languages usually far apart from one another blend in the common language of design and tell the story of a project that spans from research to the creation of innovative products for markets around the world. This design and cultural blend produced Fusion: two kitchen knives made of ebony and white maple. Handmade in Kyoto as a limited edition by Japanese artist/craftsman Issei Hanaoka, these knives are inspired by the traditional Japanese art of wood crafting and they have a minimalist design: extremely simple yet modern and universal.
Each of the two sizes is available in either material with an option for a serrated blade (for bread) for a rubric of eight options in all; every Fusion knife features "an ergonomic handle for slip-resistant ultra-comfort grip." Anticipating concerns about care and durability, as was the case for the previously-seen knives, Ponti notes that"the seamless design allows for unparalleled cleanliness and easy care. Thanks to their ultra-fine edge, the knives are extremely sharp but also easy to sharpen."
The commenters also noted that wooden knives are suitable for cheese (at least one pseudo-artisanal kitchenware company produces 'em) but probably not for, say, filleting a porkchop or breaking down a whole chicken. But the knives were ultimately regarded as an exercise in aesthetics at the expense of functionality, and so too does the handsome packaging for Ponti's "Fusion" underscore their decorative appeal: "For the packaging, the traditional Japanese boxes kiribako have been re-defined according to Italian design where shape is driven by purpose."
Despite the benefits of the custom box—it is intended to "protect [the knife] from humidity and the passing of time"—it seems a bit precious, a sort of display case as opposed to the more utilitarian knife block or strip. The sentiment is admirable, but considering that the short and long versions are ¥12000 and ¥18000 (about $120 and $180) respectively, I'd rather invest in a nice santoku.