Ariake Achieves a Flow State of Design With the Nagare Collection

In the art of furniture design, mastery involves developing a deep and intimate knowledge of the materials used to turn sketches into prototypes before fully realizing final products. That’s exactly what Japanese furniture brand Ariake facilitated in October 2023 when it led a cohort of notable designers and brands – including Gabriel Tan, Anderssen&Voll, Keiji Ashizawa, Norm Architects, Monica Förster, Naoki Terada, and Christian Haas – through a week-long design workshop in Saga, Japan.

A group of people stand on a path in a forested area with cars parked nearby

Hinoki forest visit \\\ Photo: Sebastian Stadler

A group of people standing outdoors, listening to a guide pointing towards trees and greenery, with houses and hills in the background

Gen Taniguchi, owner of Nao Washi, showing their Kaji trees \\\ Photo: Sebastian Stadler

There, the designers met with Ariake’s Hinoki partner factory, which grows, harvests, and processes the prized Japanese Cypress wood. The group was also introduced to Gen Taniguchi, the owner and master craftsman of Nao Washi, a three-hundred-year-old family-run washi mill that transforms Kaji trees into washi paper. This immersive experience provided the designers with new tools and insights to create Ariake’s new 8-piece, 2024 collection Nagare.

Group of people posing with various wooden furniture pieces in front of a corrugated metal warehouse

Designers and their teams with their prototypes \\\ Photo: Sebastian Stadler

A person stands in a garage, holding up a large sheet of blank paper in front of them, with both hands extended outward, displaying it fully.

Gen Taniguchi displaying Washi paper \\\ Photo: Sebastian Stadler

Two people in a workshop are observing wooden furniture pieces. A man in a red shirt is kneeling, holding a tool, while another man in a black shirt stands nearby. In the background, others are working

Gabriel Tan and Furukawa San prototyping the Koi Chair \\\ Photo: Sebastian Stadler

Three individuals assemble a wooden furniture piece in a room with a plant, chair, and table in the background

Gabriel Tan with Kai Taishi and Tomoko Miyachi of Ariake \\\ Photo: Sebastian Stadler

A person is sitting on a beige sofa in a minimalistic room with wooden furniture, including a coffee table and a small side table. The room has a light-colored wall and a wooden floor

Naoki Terada and the Tonbo Sofa prototype \\\ Photo: Sebastian Stadler

Nagare, which means flow in Japanese, symbolizes the ways events unfurled leading to the collection while referencing water in a nod to the DesignHouse CPH in Copenhagen where Ariake launched the collection, co-presented with its European distributor Est.18, at the 2024 3daysofdesign fair. Featuring eight new products, the collection highlights the materiality of Hinoki and Washi wood.

Two men converse at a table with an open notebook, a green bottle, and a wooden panel. The man on the left gestures with his hands, while the man on the right listens attentively

Staffan Holm and Keiji Ashizawa \\\ Photo: Sebastian Stadler

Two individuals in a modern office setting, one seated on a chair holding a paper, and the other standing behind him also holding a paper, engaging in a conversation. Various furniture pieces are visible in the background

Rui Alves and Gabriel Tan \\\ Photo: Sebastian Stadler

A person stands on a paved area surrounded by stacked logs and lumber, with dense foliage in the background

Gabriel Tan at the Hinoki lumber mill \\\ Photo: Sebastian Stadler

A wooden chair with a curved backrest and armrests is placed next to a wooden table on a striped rug in a room with wooden flooring and glass windows

Koi Chair \\\ Photo: Sebastian Stadler

Gabriel Tan, inspired by the Japanese carp, designed the solid wood Koi chair with soft curves like the fish. With its generous backrest and organic armrests, the chair can be placed in both dining rooms and home offices, a conscious decision noting the hybrid nature of modern live-work spaces.

A black coffee table with a small bonsai tree on it is positioned in front of a beige sofa in a modern living room

Futago Nesting Tables, Hoyo Sofa \\\ Photo: Sebastian Stadler

Tan also created a set of nesting tables that can adapt to the confines of any space. Futago, meaning “twins” in Japanese, consists of a primary table and a smaller, secondary surface that effortlessly glides in and out. This allows the user to create a longer coffee table if needed or remove the smaller component completely, using it as a side table that can be put away when not in use.

A modern living room with minimalist decor, featuring beige sofas, a bonsai tree on a black coffee table, large windows overlooking water, and hanging glass ornaments

Futago Nesting Tables, Tondo Sofa \\\ Photo: Sebastian Stadler

Four people gather around a wooden chair outside a building with large windows. Three are standing, one is kneeling, all appear to be discussing the chair. Urban setting with trees in the background

Christian Haas and team with the Sedai Chair prototype \\\ Photo: Sebastian Stadler

Christian Haas reimagined the iconic sling typology with the Sedai chair. Ideal for lounging, the seat features a Japanese saddle leather that will patina with age and a modern, solid wood structure that differentiates it from others in its category.

A minimalist room features a wooden chair, black writing desk with a mirror, a small vase with greenery, and a large mirror along one wall. Nearby are a floor-standing black vase and a shelving unit

Braid Chair, Hinode Dressing Table \\\ Photo: Sebastian Stadler

Translating to sunrise, the Hinode dressing table by Monica Förster alludes to its name with the round mirror that seems to emerge over the tabletop’s horizon. The composition has an air of lightness to it, thanks to its delicate but structurally sound proportions.

Modern interior with glass walls, featuring minimalistic furniture, two bonsai trees, and a view of a lake outside

Hinode Dressing Table, Braid Chair \\\ Photo: Sebastian Stadler

A minimalist living room with a light-colored sofa, a wooden chair, a small tree, and a decorative screen against a plain white wall. A small figurine is placed on top of the screen

Nao Cabinet, Hoyo Sofa \\\ Photo: Sebastian Stadler

Keiji Ashizawa leaned into his new learnings from both the Hinoki factory and Washi mill to create the Nao cabinet, in collaboration with Nao Washi. Reminiscent of the traditional Japanese shoji screen used to separate different rooms within the home, the cabinet is quietly elevated with details like recessed handles and edge hinges.

A light wooden chair with a rope design, beige cushion, beside a black table and mirror in a bright room with a wooden floor and potted plant

Braid Chair, Hinode Dressing Table \\\ Photo: Sebastian Stadler

Inspired by its own Braid Collection, Norm Architects expanded the series with its Braid Chair. The paper cord woven armrests now fill a curved rendition of the chair, a subtle departure from the rectilinear forms of the original collection. Available in two different heights, it fits in both dining and lounge spaces.

A modern living room with a beige sofa, a small round side table, and a glass wall offering a view of a lake and trees. Several spherical hanging lights are visible from the ceiling

Tondo Sofa \\\ Photo: Sebastian Stadler

Tondo, which means framing or cutting marks within the context of Japanese printing, is the name of Naoki Terada’s minimalist sofa. Solid Hinoki wood frames the seating and its geometric cushions, all the while giving a throw of that intoxicating citrusy Hinoki scent.

A modern living room with wooden flooring features a beige armchair, a light wood and fabric side chair, a black side table with a plant, and floor-to-ceiling windows revealing an outdoor picnic table

Zabu Chair \\\ Photo: Sebastian Stadler

Anderssen&Voll’s Zabu chair is an abbreviated name for Zabuton, the traditional Japanese floor cushion that the team was inspired by. The belts that support the cushions on the front and back bars of the seat, which are normally hidden from sight, are instead proudly displayed to visually express the structure’s rhythm.

A modern living room with a light gray sofa, a black coffee table featuring a bonsai tree and a small figurine, glass walls, wooden beams, and large windows overlooking a green outdoor scenery

Futago Nesting Tables, Hoyo Sofa \\\ Photo: Sebastian Stadler

Last but not least, the Hoyo collection by Francesco Rota originally launched in 2022 gets a “kaizen,” or “good change.” The updated series of sofas and chairs introduces wooden runners at the bottom of the cushions that allow the possibility to connect multiple modules together. Hoyo, which means embrace, softly cradles the user with its plush seat cushion and backrest.

A modern living room with a light beige sofa, a round mirror on a console table, and a bonsai tree on the window sill, seen through a reflective glass surface

Hoyo Sofa \\\ Photo: Sebastian Stadler

Modern living room with large windows overlooking a water view. Neutral-colored furniture, artwork on the walls, and a minimalist decor style. Light wood flooring and an area rug are present

Hoyo Chair \\\ Photo: Sebastian Stadler

A modern, minimalistic living room with white furniture, a black coffee table, a small bonsai tree, and wall-mounted white panels. The room has large windows and a wooden ceiling

Photo: Sebastian Stadler

A modern living room with wooden beams, large windows overlooking a river, beige sofas, a wooden chair, and indoor plants

Photo: Sebastian Stadler

A light-colored wooden chair with a curved backrest and armrests, and a padded seat cushion

Koi Chair by Gabriel Tan

minimalist black nesting tables

Futago Nesting Tables by Gabriel Tan

A black, modern-style lounge chair with a leather seat and backrest on a minimalist wooden frame with four legs

Sedai Sling Chair by Christian Haas

A contemporary table with one drawer on the right side and mirror attached to the desk surface.

Hinode Dressing Table by Monica Förster

A wooden cabinet with a minimalist design, featuring paper-covered sliding doors, three interior shelves, and an open section with a hinged door partially open

Nao Cabinet by Keiji Ashizawa

padded chair with paper cord woven around the backrest

Braid Chair by Norm Architects

beige and wood sofa

Tondo Sofa by Naoki Terada

A wooden armchair with light beige cushions, featuring a minimalist design

Zabu Chair by Anderssen&Voll

A minimalist, light beige sofa with a boxy design and a single armrest cushion, supported by a wooden base

Hoyo Sofa by Francesco Rota

To learn more about the entire Nagare collection, visit

Bonsai by Bonsai Murin and Washi Pebble Sculptures by Gen Taniguchi were also on view at the exhibition.

Photography by Sebastian Stadler.

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