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Tendo Mokko


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Sori Yanagi (b. 1915)

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(established 1940)

From its beginnings as a woodworkers' cooperative it began manufacturing munitions boxes and, in conjunction with the Industrial Arts Institute (IAI), plywood decoy aircraft. In 1947 it became involved with the manufacture of occupation housing and, from the early 1950s, furniture for the domestic market. Early examples of the moulded plywood furniture on which it was to establish its reputation were seen in the Takashimaya department store in Tokyo. Other plywood furniture included seating by architect Kenzo Tange for the Shizuoka Prefectural Sports Arena, the Butterfly stool (1956 by Sori Yanagi), a moulded stool (1960) by Reiko Tanabe, and a low‐level chair (1960) by Daisaku Choh that was shown at the Milan Triennale in the same year. Although such Japanese designers drew on forms drawn from indigenous sources, they were also aware of the forms of plywood experiments in the United States and Scandinavia but also drew on an awareness of the aesthetic elegance of contemporary Italian design. Many designers were also attracted to design for the company by its design competition, mounted between 1960 and 1967, and the payment of royalties. Tendo Mokko itself was awarded the prestigious Mainichi Design Prize in 1964 for its contribution to Japanese furniture production in a period when the company enjoyed commissions for the furniture for many new buildings. Its manufacture of furniture by leading designers continued in succeeding decades, as with Arata Isozaki's black stained wood and polyurethane‐upholstered Marilyn chair, first designed in 1972 and manufactured by the company from 1981. In keeping with the emerging ethos of Postmodernism, Isozaki combined historical references to high backed chairs by Charles Rennie Mackintosh with the glamorous curvilinear form of film star Marilyn Monroe. In the 1980s the company produced furniture for government offices, libraries, museums, and hotels but also attracted exciting new ideas from architects and designers entering the company's biennial competition.

Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art.


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