Welcome to our ‘spiral market selection’ interview series, where we look at living from the viewpoint of artists and creators engaged in craftsmanship for daily life. For our seventh interview, we talked with Sakura Haneda of vivo stained glass and Takehisa Ueda whose furniture creations under the brand name FLANGE plywood begin with the production of handmade plywood.
vivo stained glass (hereafter vivo) :
This was my first time doing a collaborative exhibit with FLANGE plywood. We came together at the suggestion of Spiral Market.
We made a variety of collaborative items, and you know from the first meeting right up to the day the exhibition began, we were both very excited. My imagination started flowing the moment I viewed the FLANGE website and then visited his studio. I wanted him to create stands for my stained glass works, and even without detailed briefing he understood so well what I meant. The stands for the “Pressed Flower Panels”, for example – the base is transparent glass and Takehisa made the stands so the glass would show through, and I think it looks beautiful. He made all kinds of pieces to complement mine, fine-tuning the shapes, sizes and even the depth of the grooves for setting the glass. They are so beautiful. I can’t explain how happy I was and what a boost it gave me.
FLANGE plywood（hereafter FLANGE）:
On the flipside, Sakura made the stained glass pieces that fit the FLANGE frames that I shared with her. It was an incredible experience and so different to craftsmanship where I am solely responsible for the completion of a piece. The result was something I can’t possibly achieve on my own.
I’ve always been interested in plywood and parquetry, but I didn’t understand the production process, so it was fascinating to me. I had no idea how long it took to produce one piece, for example. The layers in FLANGE pieces are beautiful, whether viewed from above or the side. It’s such a pleasure to use these incredible stands for my works. I am certain all the visitors to the exhibition appreciated the quality of his works.
At the end of the day, though, stands just play a supporting role. Most people simply buy a commercial product, and that’s something I need to consider more carefully.
──Craftsmanship and a shared awareness of space
This was my first time collaborating with a stained-glass artist and, to be honest, at first I wasn’t sure how it would come together. My only image was of art nouveau pieces with plant and flower motifs in colourful glass, and I wasn’t quite sure how to approach it. But then I saw the vivo stained glass pieces with their modern simplicity and soft tones. They are linear but still exhibit a handmade form. I love how they have a different kind of organic linearity to wooden pieces. And I could also see that Sakura thinks of her works as interior items and considers how they fit with our lifestyle – that’s when the ideas for collaboration just fell into place for me.
For me too, when I visited the FLANGE studio, I noticed Takehisa uses similar base colours — moss green, bronze, clear – so it felt like a really natural collaboration. During the installation as well, we talked, didn’t we, about how it felt really natural to be exhibiting our individual pieces side-by-side.
At vivo, I use pop colours in some of my pieces, but that can sometimes make an interior item’s presence overwhelming, and the object doesn’t fit with everything else. So I try to focus on calming, subdued tones that meld naturally into a living space. You could say that our shared focus is an awareness of space.
──Craftsmanship born from daily living
Because I’m engaged in craftsmanship myself, I always choose pieces I can cherish when it comes to daily use items like tableware and furniture. Also, I love succulent plants and can never seem to find the right pieces to put them in, so I tend to make them myself. But when I look at the FLANGE collection there are so many things I want to buy, like a table with a changeable tabletop – isn’t that fantastic! The furniture and bases, do you think of them all on your own?
In my home, too, I choose furniture and tableware in which the artists’ warmth comes through. Regarding my FLANGE pieces, some I think of myself and others come as requests from my wife. Craftsmanship that is truly connected to daily living is only possible if you view things from the user’s perspective. Also fundamental to my personal craft is the fact that my starting point is production of the plywood itself. That allows me to alter the density and texture according to what I am making. Take the small stands for the “Pressed Flower Panels” – my first step was creating the plywood.
Which means the stands are entirely order-made. I’m very grateful for that. Small items may be small, but they sure do take a lot of work, don’t they? That’s something I found we totally agree on as artisans.
I have materials that I have always wanted to use to complement the layers of plywood. For a long time I have been holding on to some pieces of glass with a striped pattern – the stripes appear on the edge pieces of panels in the production of speckled glass. Unfortunately, the American factory that made the glass closed last year and you can no longer obtain this material. I was so excited to be entrusted with the frames from FLANGE and finally use this striped glass. It was such a pleasure.
You can see that the flyer for our exhibition shows stripes, reflecting both our works.
── Viewing time through creations
I really love things that grow more beautiful with time, like a piece of driftwood or a rounded rock. I make my stained glass pieces with an eye to them growing ever more beautiful with time. For example, the flowers in the “Pressed Flower Panels” are brightly colored initially, but as they fade and become pale over time, gradually the veins of the leaves become more obvious. They are beautiful at the beginning, as they change, and at the end as well. I always think about how we can witness the passing of time through our creations.
In terms of aging, my FLANGE plywood differs greatly from furniture made with solid timber — if part of it gets damaged or discoloured through use, I can simply layer on another piece. The layers in effect increase with use — that’s my philosophy for making things that last forever. Components that use blocks of wood, like the legs of tables, are all designed into a piece so that they can be filed, redesigned, and reused as seats or stools at some point in the future.
The techniques behind plywood were invented to simplify the production of furniture using wood, which had become warped or altered in some way in its natural environment. With plywood, the general perception is of mass-produced furniture, and what’s more, there is definitely no one else making their own plywood in a private studio from scratch. I’ve been asked many times, “Why would you do that?” But I see great value in plywood and want to realise that value.
Your image might be of the plywood at your local home centre or hardware store, but the plywood in the FLANGE studio is totally different. It has an extremely gentle and natural feel. Or should I say it’s more rounded? And because it is all individually handmade, you can choose the tones you want for each piece. It’s really wonderful.
Interview and editing by Spiral
The items of the vivo stained glass×FLANGE plywood collaboration are on sale at Spiral Online Store.