MARUNI Inc. which has been producing and selling wooden furniture for 76 years since 1928, is now planning to start a new business dealing with the new type of furniture based on completely new concepts from those Maruni has kept so far. According to this purpose, the designs of small chairs to be commercialized are widely sought for.


The announcement of the Prize Winners of the International Design Competition for eSmall Wooden Chairsf cosponsored by The Committee for Next Maruni Project and Designtope
First of all, Wefd like to express our gratitude to those many who applied their works for the international design competition for e Small Wooden Chairsf cosponsored by The Committee for Next Maruni Project and Designtope. The number of the works presented both from Japan and the world has reached as many as 600. The works that won The Grand Prix Award and other prizes through the judgment of the Chief Jury, Mr. Naoto Fukasawa are as follows.

< Grand-Prix >
The workfs title : JOIN
The producer : Sean Yoo (UNITED STATES)

< Prize-winning work >
The workfs title : y-chair
The producer : Burkhard Daemmer (GERMANY)

< Prize-winning work >
The workfs title : SLOT
The producer : Bradley Price (UNITED STATES)

< Prize-winning work >
The workfs title : Mycha
The producer : Yoshimichi Matsuoka (Japan)

< Prize-winning work >
The workfs title : Mycha
The producer : Yoshimichi Matsuoka (Japan)

The work that won the Grand Prix Award , through necessary modifications that may be made in the future, will be commercialized as an additional work to the 11 works presented by 11 designers for Next Maruni Project. The 12 works are to be introduced in Milan in 2005. The other prize-winning works will be subject to 2 year-Priority Right for Commercialization Contract with Next Maruni Project for the future possibility of their commercialization.

Impression ( Grand-Prix : Sean Yoo )

I am thrilled to have been chosen as a Grand Prix winner of the Designtope/NEXTMARUNI PROJECT Wooden Small Chairs Competition.I am also very honored that my project will be shown alongside the works of the world-famed designers whom I have studied and admired for such a long time.

I designed my chair, JOIN, with the concept of gMa: Mutual harmony created by the appearance of details.hI wanted to achieve the feeling of consideration and mutual harmony within a chair.Can I design a chair devoid of absolutism and a single dominating element?Can each part of the chair gracefully coexist?I wanted JOIN to answer some of these questions.

I hope with JOIN that I have successfully answered these questions and more importantly that I have represented unity, harmony, and coexistence which I admire so much in Japanese design aesthetics. Thank you very much for this great honor.

< Profile >

Sean Yoo is an American designer who was born in 1968 and grew up in Los Angeles, California.He received a degree in Urban Planning at California State Polytechnic University and worked as a city planner for one of the largest city in Southern California.After several years, however, he decided to change direction and pursue a career in design.He returned to school and in 2000 graduated from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California with a degree in Industrial Design.He began as a staff designer for Round Three design studio in Pasadena and in 2001 decided to start his own design studio, Apt 5 Design, with Angela Tarasco.His works have been featured in many major design publications including 2003 and 2004 International Design Yearbooks and he has won numerous awards for his furniture designs including First Place in the gConcorso Young and Design 2002h presented at the Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan.He is currently living in Matera, Italy and is working for clients such as Frighetto Industrie, Jongform and Calia Italia.

< General Comment >
One of the essential conditions for this competition was to express eThe message to the esthetic sense of Japanf through the designs of small wooden chairs. Many works presented, however, seemed to be produced based upon some misunderstanding about this point, that is , many works are the ones that, in their designs, try to represent Japanese traditional styles and forms or the superficial simplifications of such traditional properties. The intrinsic nature of Japanese esthetic sense can be condensed to e the beauty of usef, that is, the beauty is something that is found in daily goods always close to our daily lives. Itfs the beauty of efunctionsf and not that of decorations or ornaments. Itfs the beauty of something that has both specialized functions and universal variability that makes it suitable in whatever place. The prize-winning works commonly have the element that makes them be the ICON of small wooden chairs. They have the variability to be suitable in any place where they may be used. They, with their good balance, seem to make us cherish them for a long time through our daily lives. There were many other good works that were unfortunately not selected for the prizes, because of their structural problems, the difficulty for mass-production, etc. Some of the presented works seemed to me to be the ones that we can hardly call small chairs. Some looked like just simple stools. Some looked like small tables rather than chairs. Therefre even the ones that have drawers to put things in. They were interesting in their own respects but the most important point with which the selection was made was that it shouldnft be too far away from the image associated with the word eSmall Chairsf. To conclude this comment, Ifd like to stress my belief that itfs extremely hard to design chairs only on a computer display. The difficulty of the selection was here in this point. Ifd like again to express my heart-felt gratitude to those many who participated in this competition with their pains-taking works.

Chief Jury Naoto Fukasawa