Higashiosaka FACTOR is a business initiative that pairs small, family-run manufacturers of industrial goods in Higashiosaka (East Osaka City) with designers who can help them expand beyond industrial clients. As one example, yesterday we looked at designer Gen Suzuki's MoMA-worthy extension cords from the Ohara Electric Wire Co.
Extension cords designed by Gen Suzuki for Ohara Electric Wire Co.
Today we look at another pairing from the initiative: Industrial designer Hitoshi Kuramoto and fabrication firm Kyowa Steel Co., which manufactures diamond-shaped wire mesh for fencing and preventing rockfall, among other things.
Kuramoto saw more potential for the material:
"The diamond-shaped wire mesh produced by Kyowa Steel Co. was different from the image of cold and inorganic metal. It becomes soft and feels warm to the touch and weight."
Kuramoto decided the material could comfortably hold humans as well as it safely holds rocks. The result:
"This AMU UMU Net Bench is a modular bench that allows you to enjoy its analog feel. A delicate and sharp appearance and a seating surface that softens and supports the body.
"Taking advantage of the manufacturing characteristics of diamond-shaped wire mesh, it can be adjusted to any length, making it a modular bench that can be widely used according to the application and scene."
Left: Industrial designer Hitoshi Kuramoto. Right: Koji Morinaga of Kyowa Steel Co.
I like this overall initiative—whereby siloed-off manufacturers are paired with designers who can help them expand their horizons—a lot, and would love to see this applied in America.
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Firstly, I agree with Rain that this is an excellent program, and would love to see similar models in other areas of the world. Thanks for finding. Regarding this particular example, I personally find it a bit underwhelming from a form perspective. Nothing about it makes the chain link sing, and in my opinion it should be the hero and focus point of this design. Further, isn't it a bit lazy and impractical to require the bench be bolted through the floor from below? Designers should be problem solvers not problem creators. Beautiful manufacturing though.