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In the Shop: The Ise Stool by Summer Studio

We talk with Jack Sasaki of Summer Studio while he walks us through the construction of our collaborative Ise Stool.


In the Shop: The Ise Stool by Summer Studio

Developed in collaboration with Summer Studio, Ise Stool is an interpretation of Japanese Hinoki stools, adopting to the contemporary western life style. Made of Alaskan yellow cedar, which has been used in the making of boats and totem poles by Native Americans, the stool reveals a warm creamy color and a beautiful tight grain. The wood's decay resistance makes the stool perfect for places with high moisture, such as bathrooms, showers and saunas. The design is strikingly minimal yet robust. Flat packed for ease of shipping with simple assembly required.

Shop the Ise Stool here and continue below for a brief conversation with Summer Studio's Jack Sasaki.

Commune Design: How does your upbringing in Japan influence your current work? Do you continue to make connections to the work of your father and do you ever visit Japan?

Jack Sasaki: I think my Japanese background influences my design decisions in subliminal level. I don’t intentionally express it in my furniture but I’ve been told by people that my furniture has Japanese aesthetics which surprises me sometimes.. Ise stool is the my first attempt to interpret the structure, shape and material in Japanese traditional furniture and I enjoyed the work so much!

I regularly go back to Japan to see my parents in Tokyo and make a trip to Kyoto which has been my annual ritual. This year I canceled my trip to Japan in April due to infectious disease concern and I miss the country so much.

CD: Do you have a favorite Los Angeles-based architect (past or present) and/or a favorite building?

JS: I love works by Rudolf Schindler. His house on Kings Road has great personal feel based on Japanese like material choice and European functionalism.

CD: What was the transition like from working on large-scale architectural projects to furniture and lighting?

JS: I love working on furniture and lighting as I’m able to control everything personally.

CD: In the world of furniture and lighting, who are your influences (past or present)?

JS: I was moved by the life story of George Nakashima who was once in a Japanese Internment Camp during WW ll and started his furniture making studio, relatively later in his life, in order to secure his family’s independence. The story made me believe in personal power to make a way in my life through design and craft. I love Tadao Ando who works with a single material, concrete, to crate great architectural interests.

CD: Why the name ‘Summer Studio’?

JS: As an architectural student I enjoyed taking design studio classes during summer semesters, in which I can engage in design projects with calm and relaxing state of mind. Also, the name represents “forever summer” state of my current life and the climate in Southern California.

CD: What does sustainability mean to Summer Studio?

JS: As a business owner I'm a given responsibility to do whatever we can do to protect environment which includes choice of sustainable material and small volume shipping. I also believe that products we make should be long lasting, hopefully passed through generations, with high level of care on the craft and timeless design.

CD: What advice do you have for students that may want to follow your career path?

JS: For young designers, or any designer, I think it is so important to keep accepting new challenges which expands his/her design capacity. The challenges include use of new material, use of new structures or details, try new product type and so on. Such opportunities often come from collaborations with other talented and stimulating parties. That’s why I enjoyed working with Commune for this new product so much!