NIHONMONODiscovering Japan [Nihon] through authentic craftsmanship [Honmono]

Wood from Kiso and Lacquer Painting ”Kiso Artech Co. Ltd.,  Formative Designer Hirochika Saito”

Wood from Kiso and Lacquer Painting
”Kiso Artech Co. Ltd., Formative Designer Hirochika Saito”

Lacquered technology using handwork

Kiso Artech products are characterized by using high quality kiso wood and traditional lacquering techniques. The company continues to present various ideas, from furniture to architectural space design. They also participated in Nakata’s ”ReVALUE NIPPON Project” in 2015. Under the theme of ”Lacquer”, and in collaboration with Nakata, the company produced a lacquerware bathtub and showed off Japan’s high technique to the world. ”Lacquerware is similar to human skin. Some people worry that it might be too slippery, but actually the surface of a lacquered bathtub would feel as if it adheres to you, like human skin,” explained Hirochika Saito, a formative designer and the representative of the company.

Completely waterproof and fireproof lacquered Washi

Saito showed us a wooden wine aerator that is said to enhance the taste of delicious wine. When wine is poured from the top, air comes in from the cut in the center, oxidizing the wine to make the taste mellow. Nakata observed curiously and said, ”I’d really like to try it right away!”.
Next, Nakata was introduced to a rare lacquered ”washi”. ”Beautiful,” Nakata commented on its breathtaking beauty. ”By coating lacquer on it, paper becomes completely waterproof. So it can be used for bathrooms and kitchens,” explained Saito. It has been certified as fireproof material, so it can also be used for the interior of large-scale structures. Currently, lacquered papers are used as wallpaper in airport lounges and foreign-affiliated hotels.

Craftsmanship that can not be imitated by machine

At the workshop. we were allowed to observe lacquer craftsman at work. ”Is it better to have some unevenness of paint to add the human touch, or not?” Nakata inquired. Saito replied, ”I think it is better to have some unevenness. Lacquer painting depends on the craftsman’s sensitivity.” A carpenter was smoothing the surface of wood using a plane. Saito told us the importance of handwork. ”Working with a plane requires the skill of carpenters. You can use a belt sander to shave wood, but it creates small fuzz, and the surface will feel rough. Working with plane is hard and requires skill.”


Kiso Artech Co. Ltd.,
82-1 Narai, Shiojiri City, Nagano Prefecture