Kawara Bench
Tsuyoshi Hayashi Friday 24 Jan 2014

The Kawara Bench by Tsuyoshi Hayashi is designed to salvage industrially rejected Japanese rooftop tiles that would otherwise be discarded. 5% of whole production - that is more than 65,000 pieces per year - ends up being disposed in landfills or smashed and used in road construction. However, these wastes have still unique value such as colour, texture, durability and smooth curves which invite people to sit on them. By just cutting off only the damaged part and mounting them onto a wooden structure, "useless wastes" can be rendered to "useful matter" once again.

Kawara, Japanese roof top tiles, have diversity and history strongly related with locality. They are produced mostly in three areas: Takahama, Iwami and Awaji Island. Smoked roof tiles in silver colour are from Awaji Island, close to Kyoto where they have huge demands from Japanese castles, shrines and temples in traditional architecture. Glazed roof tiles are from Takahama and Iwami, where they have good clay and a long tradition for colour glaze.

However, there is a sad story behind their production. No matter how they try to produce the tiles efficiently, because of ceramic property it is difficult to avoid generating defectives and hard to recycle these once fired. As such they produce considerable waste and disposal is costly. This is why Hayashi decided to dedicate himself to design the Kawara Bench.

A smooth curved shape, hardness, durability for outdoor use and unique texture and colours give strong identity to the space and object itself; this is the strong point in the design of Kawara Bench. Its shape invites people to sit and it keeps one's posture straight ergonomically. Hardness is achieved by firing the bench in more than 1200 degrees compared to European average of around 800 degrees. This enables a single chair to even support a person weighing 120 kg. Roof tiles originally made for outdoor use enables it to be placed in any kind of environment. Smoked roof tiles gives ageing texture on the surface and coloured roof tiles are created continuously by glazing companies as waste material. This is how Kawara Bench can be designed in rich colours.

Every factory produces its own waste and Hayashi can discover unique value in it. His goal is to propose a new way of appreciating waste material with his designs by working with local factories all over the world.