Japan States Quality

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Photo by: House of Finn Juhl

House of Finn Juhl collaborates with Japanese craftsmanship

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Photo by: House of Finn Juhl

House of Finn Juhl collaborates with Japanese craftsmanship

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Photo by: House of Finn Juhl

House of Finn Juhl collaborates with Japanese craftsmanship

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Photo by: House of Finn Juhl

House of Finn Juhl collaborates with Japanese craftsmanship

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Photo by: House of Finn Juhl

House of Finn Juhl collaborates with Japanese craftsmanship

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Photo by: House of Finn Juhl

House of Finn Juhl collaborates with Japanese craftsmanship

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Photo by: House of Finn Juhl

House of Finn Juhl collaborates with Japanese craftsmanship

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Photo by: House of Finn Juhl

House of Finn Juhl collaborates with Japanese craftsmanship

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Photo by: House of Finn Juhl

House of Finn Juhl collaborates with Japanese craftsmanship

Published
12.10.2017

House of Finn Juhl has benefitted from sincere attention to detail from their Japanese manufacturers for more than a decade. The 150-year anniversary of this relationship between Denmark and Japan is a moment to cherish this.

“In the very beginning I was opposed to it,” House of Finn Juhl’s founder, Ivan Hansen, laughs as he explains his initial attitude towards the idea of moving part of the Danish production at House of Finn Juhl to Japan:

“I was sure that it would be way too complicated, way too expensive and way too fragmented with some of our production in Denmark and some in Japan.”

Ivan Hansen has owned House of Finn Juhl together with Henrik Sørensen since 1990 in the form of Onecollection.

Most consumers would probably now agree with him when he talks about the irony of what happened:

“Luckily, I took my wife vacationing in Japan and it gave me proof that Japan really would be an alternative to our production. Not due to a lower cost, because it’s not, but due to an enhancement of the quality.”

Today he feels lucky because “the Japanese have a very competent, proud and humble way of perceiving their work – in regards to those particular designs by Finn Juhl that they do for us. You will find nowhere in the world where they could be manufactured or nursed better.”

Hansen praises the Japanese for their professionalism as craftsmen as well as their will and desire to go the extra mile to achieve a product that they are proud of.

Ingenuity is also one of the qualities in evidence at the workshop in Japan. For example, they have developed a new joining method. By using plugs in the joints, they have more than doubled the surface area in contact with glue, which strengthens delicate joints.

This method creates a more durable product than traditional craftmanship, which is a huge advantage for pieces like the famously fragile 44 Chair (the Bone Chair).

Extract from “Finn Juhl and One Collection” by author Mike Rømer

 

How does it work?

A lot of similarities are to be found between Denmark and Japan when it comes to the two nations’ interests in design and architecture. However, just as many differences will probably be exposed when looking into employment and work facilities. House of Finn Juhl has anticipated these issues by having a single point of contact in Japan.

Despite precise measurements, it wasn’t easy to start producing Finn Juhl’s designs. The digital machines could easily do the rough part of the job, but in order to achieve the desired quality, the furniture still called for expensive work by hand.

Onecollection (Now House of Finn Juhl) tried a number of Danish manufacturers but they wanted minimum orders of more than 50-100 chairs. This was too large of an order, as the initial demand was expected to be low before rising as Finn Juhl became better known.Ivan Hansen and Henrik Sørensen were therefore searching for a furniture manufacturer who could produce small series on demand, and if that was not possible in Denmark, they had to look abroad.

A skilled, smaller company in Yamagata was the answer to their prayers. The company was willing and able to deliver small series on demand at a reasonable price, and it did not take long before an agreement was signed.

Extract from “Finn Juhl and One Collection” by author Mike Rømer

At House of Finn Juhl, Ivan Hansen is very content with this choice:

“We never have any issues in terms of what the deal is –  neither about at which level the products live up to our expectation and have the right quality.”

After saying this, Ivan Hansen smiles and states that his worries about splitting the production between the two countries were all for nothing:

“We truly created a company where our different craftsmen get to work with what they are good at. In Denmark we do veneering and all of our larger wooden pieces, like shelving units and tables as well as upholstering. All the really tricky woodwork that requires zealousness is in Japan.”

 

Facts:

Manufacturing woodwork for specific models in the One Collection range has taken place in Japan since 2009.

Production of the wooden frames happens in Japan, then all the furniture pieces are shipped to Denmark for upholstering.

Pieces made in Japan are: FJ45, FJ46, Chieftain Chair and Sofa, the Eye Table, the Glove Cabinet, the Baker Sofa, the Cocktail Table and the Egyptian Chair.

 

 

 

 

 

Companies mentioned in this article