Kiso, in Nagano prefecture, is famous for producing good-quality timber from the old days, most notably, cypress. Artifacts using cypress and lacquer have been industrialized, and because it is blessed with mountain forests, Kiso had inherited the tradition until now. The bathtub design project "FURO" started by interior designers Ryu Kosaka and Yukio Hashimoto maximizes Kiso's traditional techniques and transmits Japanese culture to the world.
Kosaka used 300-year-old Kiso cypress and designed a circular bathtub "HINOKI" to bring out its soft texture. It is a usual practice to clench the wooden bathtub with metal bands on the exterior to avoid and reinforce shears but this bathtub is reinforced from the inside so bands won't be seen. This requires advanced techniques, but with craftsman Kesao Ito's pride and skill, an accurate product corresponding to its design was completed.
Hashimoto believed in creating bathtubs that would symbolize the unique bathing style of the Japanese, and he thought achieving this would require the traditional Japanese lacquering called "Urushi" technique. When he designed "TOMOE", he actually sat in the bathtub and closely inspected how his back lay on the tub before he made decisions on the design. The craftsman, Tomochika Saito, hopes this will be an opportunity to inform the world about "Urushi" possibilities.
"FURO" will be showcased at Milano Salone in April 2008. The product has modern aesthetics made by accurate hands dealing with Japanese tradition and culture. It will be transmitted globally and at the same time, it'll be a great opportunity to teach Japanese people about the magnificence of their own country's culture.