Suraido Sideboard & Pagoda Table
I have long loved the minimal, functional aesthetic of Mid Century Modern and Japanese design, but have never really questioned why until now. Perhaps it was the furniture of my home – not exactly Mid Century Modern classics, but there was something inherently cool about the sliding doors, flap doors and hidden compartments of our cabinetry. Later when I studied graphic design, I gravitated to the Swiss Style movement of the 30s and 40s with its grid-based design, order and clean lines, which has parallels with Mid Century Modern furniture design.
My love of everything Japanese, believe it or not, has its origins in Warhammer lead miniature figurines. They had these great pauldrons (armour that covers the shoulders) and for an end of year art project I decided to create my own suit of armour inspired by them. Essentially I ended up creating a Samurai suit with cardboard, straw and other found objects, and I don’t think I got the mark I deserved, but my obsession with Japanese design and culture was set. The order of Japanese design and the desire to surround yourself with beautiful objects resonates with me, as does the paradox of wabi sabi which finds beauty in imperfection.
Both movements are entwined with the use of specific materials, to the point they almost become synonymous with one another. Plywood is renowned for its versatility, lightness and strength, and allowed Mid Century Modern designers to create affordable furniture, and experiment with new techniques such as moulding. In Japan, maple is revered for its qualities of strength and durability and has been used in Japanese architecture and furniture for more than 1,200 years. With this in mind, I used Hoop pine plywood (which has come to define a certain look in Australian and New Zealand interiors) and maple for the Suraido sideboard and Pagoda table, with walnut accents for contrast.
The design of the Suraido sideboard has its origins in the Hiroshima range by Naoto Fukasawa. I sat on the design for a long time, occasionally tweaking it and living with its dimensions taped to the office wall until I got the proportions just right. The piece’s moniker, Suraido, translates as ‘slide’ in Japanese, referencing the two doors which slide on all-timber tracks. The cupboard door handle aligns perfectly with the sliding handle to preserve the clean lines of the piece.
Designed with functionality in mind, the sideboard includes a grid of holes in the back panel allowing for cords to be fed through and ventilation for electronics that may be stored within. There is also a four-door iteration of the sideboard, custom-made to fit the client’s lounge.
The Pagoda table was born from a commission by a couple who had bought the Suraido sideboard, so it needed to speak the same language. Like a pagoda, the table is a tension of sturdy and light elements. The heavy base and leg structure, made of American hard maple, slot seamlessly into rebates in the table-top’s underside. This technique anchors the dramatically dished Hoop pine table-top, reminiscent of the ethereal curved rooves of pagodas. Walnut peg details provide interest.
The range is set to grow, with ideas of a low coffee table and closet percolating while we work on other projects. Watch this space!
Photography: Emma Boyd