Creative: Karimoku

Creative: Karimoku

Karimoku:Understanding the individuality of each leather and using the piece without waste

KarimokuUnderstanding the individuality of each leather and using the piece without waste

The company originally started with woodworking. They say that their customers look at the wood and leather with the same degree of commitment. Customers are relatively tolerant of grains and knots in the wood, probably because people are used to seeing it since childhood. But many people do not come into contact with genuine leather until they are adults, so they are less tolerant to scratches on the leather.
However, leather also has ‘natural’ grazes and scratches. There are marks left by branding irons stamped on the ranch, thick blood vessel streaks, and blemishes that occur naturally. The company calls it the "natural mark." Even if such scratches on the surface are scraped or a thick coating is applied to hide the defects, it will be the same "genuine leather". However, Karimoku only uses the original surface layer of leather called grain leather. "When I first opened the leather up on my hands, I felt the wind. Air passes through because the pores are alive," said Hiroyuki Hayashi, the manager of the upholstery plant. Naturally, the leather used by the company goes through strict inspection. They assess the individuality of the leather, consider the combination of parts, and use a single piece of leather without waste. “The number of processes is increasing every year,” laughs Hayashi. The process may not make a visible difference to consumers, but they hope customers can intuitively feel, "Somehow, I like this piece of furniture better." It is this ambition that shapes Karimoku and creates first-class products.

1. Inspect the leather

Uses 1 and a half worth of cowhide to make a 3 seater sofa.

More than 90% of the leather used at Karimoku is made by Japanese tanners. They constantly have 3000 cowhides in stock. The color of the leather is compared with the sample in the dark room where the light source is determined for each lot. Next, the leather is spread onto a table to have the texture, thickness, and grain examined.

2. Cutting

Precisely cut each cowhide

For relatively large lots, damages and natural marks are checked visually, the mold is placed to avoid them, and the leather is cut all at once. (Above photo * not currently used). On the other hand, for smaller lot softs, computers are used to scan the leather and humans mold it while looking at the CAD image (bottom photo).

3. Sewing

A series of detailed work that changes with each design

The process of setting and sewing parts that are finely divided by cutting. The part where many pieces of leather overlap becomes thick, so it must be cut to make it thinner (left photo). Gather the leather with a sewing machine (upper right in the photo). More than 70 people engage in the process.

4. Upholstery

Final process to create the beautiful, taut line

While putting urethane filling in the wooden frame made in a separate process, the leather is attached to the wooden frame with metal fittings and fasteners. Make fine adjustments by hand so that the urethane keeps its place inside of the hard and heavy genuine leather sewn products. That creates a beautiful, taut line.

5. Complete!

A chair that combines Japanese tanning with Karimoku design, woodworking, and leather upholstery technique. Japanese leather is carefully used without waste.