Photographer: James Harris

Mikadokun/Mikadochan by Rio Kobayashi | Prototypes ×

Photographer: James Harris

Mikadokun/Mikadochan by Rio Kobayashi | Prototypes ×

Photographer: James Harris

Mikadokun/Mikadochan by Rio Kobayashi | Prototypes ×

In his Mikadokun/Mikadochan series, London-based maker and designer Rio Kobayashi created an easy-chair and stool made of turned ash poles with pointed ends. The joints are precise, delicate and at the same time sturdy. Each piece is uniquely hand-painted in red, blue and yellow colours.

The design of easy-chair, Mikadokun, and stool, Mikadochan, were inspired by the colourfully painted wooden sticks of the popular table game Mikado. Though taking its name from the Japanese word for emperor, the game Mikado was invented and popularised by a Hungarian company in the first half of the 20th century and is, in fact, relatively unknown in Japan.

In his own work, Rio Kobayashi uses these cultural anomalies to play with clichés of ‘East’ and ‘West’, explaining that ‘The story of Mikado is interesting for me. I am Japanese-Austrian and I spent my childhood in the nature of Japan with two very different cultures at play. I always loved making sculptures and furniture using natural material and was very passionate about colours as a child.’

For Kobayashi, the loose structures created by the Mikado sticks create a symmetry with those early childhood experiments in making, and the story of their creation offers a further reflection on his own cultural origins and experiences working and living in Japan and Europe.

Rio Kobayashi

Photographer: James Harris

Mikadokun/Mikadochan by Rio Kobayashi | Prototypes ×

Photographer: James Harris

Mikadokun/Mikadochan by Rio Kobayashi | Prototypes ×

Photographer: James Harris

Mikadokun/Mikadochan by Rio Kobayashi | Prototypes ×

Photographer: James Harris

Mikadokun/Mikadochan by Rio Kobayashi | Prototypes ×

Photographer: James Harris

Mikadokun/Mikadochan by Rio Kobayashi | Prototypes ×