Neutral inorganic material with organic-like gentleness.
Abode Corporation Representative Go Yoshida
“abode”, located in Meguro, is a small furniture store that creates products that add accent to your life style, and comfortably stimulates your senses.
Yet it is not organic, "felt" is a material which has the gentleness of organic materials. "feelt" maintains that gentle and soft texture, but also adds rigidity to it.
Its neutral texture has the potential to become the new, contemporary material. Today we have been given the privilege to interview Mr. Yoshida, the founder of "feelt".
－ I was a bit shocked when I saw “feelt” being exhibited.
Yoshida: Thank you.
－ We heard that you work alone. Does that mean you do everything yourself… from design to sales?
Yoshida: I run Abode Corporation alone. I used to work for a furniture manufacturer but wanted to do something myself, so I started my own business. I learned how to make furniture on the scene while at the company. There, I got to experience product planning, development and even sales. Currently, I work together with a freelance designer to create the designs.
－ Developing furniture all alone sounds like a lot of work.
Yoshida: Yes (laughs). Mass production is risky when it comes to furniture. There are inventory and storage issues, and it doesn’t monetize quickly. I consider it an advantage that I worked at a woodwork manufacturer. When I first launched the business, the factory I used to work for, and some other affiliated factories let me use their facilities.
－ Among that, “feelt” left quite an impression!
Yoshida: Especially after it took the form of furniture. People are often surprised by the chair. It captures the interest of many. Before that, people would just walk right by (laughs).
－ I can imagine! I bet the first thing that comes up on their minds is “can you sit on this?”
Yoshida: Right. Many think that a chair made of felt is only for display. But yes, you can definitely sit on it (laughs).
Anyone would be surprised if something that should be soft turns out to be hard. Especially because the soft texture of felt can still be felt on the surface. I find this material very fascinating. Felt itself is made by blending polyester with low melting point and high melting point together, then pressing that with heat. The low melting point polyester melts and hardens, while the high melting point polyester remains, resulting in the creation of this material.
Yoshida: Currently, “feelt” is 10mm thick.. If you leave just 1mm and cut a V shaped wedge into it, you can bend it at a right angle. Unless you try to detach it with something sharp like a cutter knife, you will not be able to tear it apart by your hands. The intertwined polyester fibers are pretty tough. You can also make an R. We believe that this type of texture and functionality is something that has never existed before.
－ May I ask how this material was born?
Yoshida: I was interested in materials to begin with. For the furniture label abode*, we pulverized scraps of denim, mixed that with polypropylene and heat pressed it to create a board, then used that to make furniture. I was on the search for new material when the designer suggested this felt material. So we decided to develop it as an original material of abode.
－ Exhibiting this chair was great for presentation. It makes us think that: If you can make a chair, you must be able to make anything.
Yoshida: Right. Aside from the chair, most of our products are small houseware items and miscellaneous goods. Many of them make use of the workability of the material. The square shaped bowls are made so that the joints which form the corners are almost seamless. The shape is unique, with cross sections on the external corners.
－ It is astonishing that you are able to form a shape like this from something that is board-shaped. The moveable joint sections maintain the intensity, making this design possible. You would think that it is very fragile by just looking at it. Not to forget, this piece is created by only cutting.
Yoshida: In fact, this material might be easier to handle than wood. You can cut it with a cutter knife, and even sculpt it. The lightness of it is also a strong point. We took advantage of this characteristic to create a partition which can be expanded by connecting joints. Though there are many products out there than expand horizontally, I have never seen one that expands vertically, .
－ True. So the lightness makes these things possible.
Yoshida: It is groundbreaking that you can join pieces together without using any hardware, and only by inserting. With wood, the joints must be created perfectly in order to join them. On the other hand, “feelt” stretches, so we only need to make the joints 0.5mm smaller for them to fit. Such features made it possible to develop the chair.
－ I am excited to see what you will develop next. What other characteristics does “feelt” have?
Yoshida: Let’s see…One characteristic is that you can use screws. The items that you saw so far were created by only cutting and bending. There are other items that have magnets screwed in from the back. Another characteristic is that the material does not fade or get discolored when used outdoors. It also has high absorbability, and does not deform after absorbing water. We took advantage of that feature to create a bath mat. You just need to hang it to air dry.
－ So can it be used on rooftops and patios?
Yoshida: Not quite. It needs to be dried well after absorbing water; otherwise it will develop mold. It won’t dry if you leave it on the floor.
－ I see (laughs)
Yoshida: feelt is manufactured in 3×6 feet plates. That’s the maximum supported by the machine, so we can’t make anything larger. The cost of the material is slightly higher compared to wood, but since it is possible to punch out shapes in 10mm thickness, the processing fee is cheaper than wood. Besides punching, processing such as V-shaped cutting and adhesion is done at the wood workshop.
－ So that means manufacturing is possible with existing factories and technology. Let’s collaborate with “independ” (laughs). Thank you for your time today.
Text: Koichiro Sato
Picture: Koichiro Sato
Translation: Yukie Haneda
feelt is a product label that uses rigid felt.
Rigid felt is a unique material which maintains the raw texture of felt, yet feels hard like wood when touched.
Because there is no heartwood, it is harmless when colliding. Another strong point is that it does not scratch floors when dragged.
The polyester that creates rigid felt is made from a mixture of recycled fibers such as PET bottles.
The product contributes to recycling, taking global environment into account.
abode, a furniture label which pursues sophisticated design and functionality.
Just as the definition of the brand name expresses, they develop products that put the main focus on living space and life style.
The space where we eat, rest, and spend time with loved ones day-to-day is what forms us.
Their aim is to create products that add accent to your life style, and comfortably stimulate your senses.
As a result of pursuing superior quality, all of the products are made in Japan.