follow us on

Ishinomaki Laboratory's Iconic Designs Make Their Way To The Local Market Through This New Furniture Brand

The relevance of this furniture brand to the local market isn't only hinged on the minimalist or DIY trend, it also carries with it a unique sense of ingenuity and a meaningful purpose of encouraging creativity and resourcefulness while empowering local communities now and for the years to come.


A Filipino craftsman does finishing touches to an Ishinomaki stool


A Filipino craftsman showcases an Ishinomaki stool in teak wood


Last April 22, Luzon was struck by a 6.1 magnitude earthquake, and coincidentally, this collaboration between Japanese designer furniture brand Ishinomaki Lab and up-and-coming local label Lamana was launched a couple of days after. How is the earthquake related to furniture?


READ: In Photos: Our Picks For Best Collections From This Year's Salone del Mobile And Fuorisalone


(From left) Ishinomaki Laboratory's COO Takahiro Chiba, Lamana General Manager Kay Concengco, Ishinomaki Laboratory's Founder Keiji Ashizawa, and Lamana President Jar Concengco at the launch of the Ishinomaki Laboratory x Lamana collection in Xception, Legaspi Village (where Lamana also sells their furniture)


Back in March 2011, the so-called Great East Japan Earthquake took place, hitting the Pacific coast of Tohoku, Japan with a 9.0-9.1 magnitude undersea megathrust earthquake. It's the strongest earthquake to ever hit Japan and one of the five most intense earthquakes in the world, sharing the list with the 1960 Valdivia earthquake in Chile (9.4-9.6 magnitude), 1964 Alaska earthquake in the US (9.2 magnitude), 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake in Indonesia (9.1-9.3 magnitude), and the 1952 Kamchatka earthquakes in Soviet Union (9.0 magnitude). The city of Ishinomaki on Japan's Honshu mainland, in Miyagi Prefecture was flooded by tidal waves caused by the earthquake. More than 50,000 homes and buildings were reportedly destroyed by the tsunami, and it left more than 3,000 people dead. 

Ishinomaki Laboratory was founded by Tokyo-based architect Keiji Ashizawa that same year; he visited the region to meet a client whose restaurant was affected by the disaster, and there he realized a solution that could have a long-term effect. It was an initiative that started out with the goal of aiding the residents affected by the disaster through DIY furniture workshops that helped rebuild their homes, businesses and, ultimately, their lives.

The Japanese are known to place high importance on orderliness, and their ways of responding to and coping with natural disasters are simply admirable. The birth of what is considered the world's first DIY furniture company is proof that beauty can result from even the most disastrous event; it was a matter of perspective.

Keiji recalls, “When we began, we were just a public community workshop, stocked with donated tools and timber for anyone to use. We didn’t think that we would become a furniture brand, but through the simple beauty of the designs and strong message of our story, Ishinomaki Laboratory has now gone global.”


READ: Salone Del Mobile 2019 Is All About Design & Artistry—See Kenneth Cobonpue At This Furniture Fair


Ishinomaki Bird in Japan's Cherry Blossoms   


Recently, Ishinomaki Laboratory launched their "Made in Local" initiative, where they collaborate with international makers to share the essence of the brand's craft. Ishinomaki Laboratory wanted to give a localized approach to their iconic designs, executed with handmade products made of locally available materials. Made in Local projects are currently located in London, Berlin, and Manila.

Ishinomaki Laboratory’s Project Manager Rebekah Cheng explains, “Made in Local started with the simple desire to bring Ishinomaki Laboratory’s designs and story to a local context. We were borne from very humble roots; through using locally-available materials and tools, we were able to design and make products that continue to inspire others with their simplicity and versatility today. We hope to bring that same design ethos to local communities worldwide, and look forward to working with Lamana to foster greater creativity and an appreciation for DIY+Design in the Philippines.”


READ: 5 Home Hacks To Do This Summer


Ishinomaki Laboratory Project Manager Rebekah Cheng explains their Made in Local initiative


In Manila, couple Jar and Kay Concengco were fascinated by the story behind Ishinomaki Laboratory and their designs so much so they wanted to import the products for retail. But upon discovering the brand's Made in Local initiative, they were thrilled by the idea of creating furniture pieces with a Japanese aesthetic yet Filipino twist. They took on this challenge, and their brand, Lamana, was born. 


READ: Carol Bujeau And Tania Fricke Lichauco's Chinoiserie Furniture Collaboration Is A Must-See


Lamana's Kay and Jar Concengco


Lamana puts the spotlight on Filipino craftsmanship through expertly, exquisitely made products that range from stools, benches, tables, book stands, mirror shelves, fruit trays, steel hook bars, domino trays, fish boards, tissue weights, as well as the Ishinomaki Bird Kit and KOSAKU DIY kit (a bird house and a little stool). Prices range from P2,1210 for the fish board to P53,400 for the Kobo table. 

On how it was like working with Filipino craftsmen, Ishinomaki Laboratory COO and Workshop Leader Takahiro Chiba says, “The quality of Lamana’s craftsmanship is simply excellent. Even before I came to personally train them, the craftsmen were already intuitively thinking through the process and came up with ways to assemble that, while different from our original idea, worked surprisingly well. I’m inspired by the potential of local craft here.”

Simple, practical, and multifunctional, Ishinomaki Laboratory's designs are beautifully reinterpreted by Lamana through different types of wood species such as Southeast Asian teak and European larch.

Our favorites are the AA High Stool (which is made up of two pieces combined to form a single stool that can also be separated and used individually in small spaces; they may also serve as trestles for a table) and the Carry Stool (which is a set of stacking stools that can be turned upside-down to become a tray or container). 


READ: Check Out Guava Sketches, A Contemporary Homeware Store With Distinctly Scandinavian Pieces


AA High Stool designed by Torafu Architects made into a work table


Ishinomaki Bench designed by Keiji Ashizawa made by Lamana


Ishimomaki Stool designed by Keiji Ashizawa by Lamana


Kobo Table designed by Keiji Ashizawa by Lamana in Teak Wood


The Carry Stool by Ishimomaki Laboratory by Lamana


Lamana's products may be purchased via