Anna Stepankova, a Czech design student, has borrowed the Japanese craft of bunaco to create the Tamashii Chair. Bunaco is a veneer technique in which millimeter-thin strips of beech, or buna, are coiled by hand, then pushed and adjusted to form different geometries. This method leaves the finished work with characteristic rings, a result of the color variations along the wood. For the Tamashii Chair, the ringed effect is flattering to the chair’s half-shell seat in that it accentuates the gentle flair of the seat’s back. The chair is supported by four legs constructed from pieces of curved wood that exhibit a similar organic grace. With maturity and understanding, Stepankova lays bare the material constraints of bunaco. The small keyhole present in the deep of the chair is an artifact of the origin of the coiling technique, yet its presence only accentuates the construction and design of the chair. The word “tamashii” means “soul” in Japanese, and Stepankova has incorporated the chair’s namesake into how she presents the piece. Her concept of a strings-attached agreement with the work – “buy a chair, get a tree” – essentially makes tangible the soul of the chair and propounds a sense of responsibility for the product’s natural life cycle.
“My goal was to discover all possibilities this technique offers and apply gained knowledge in an innovative way. In my work, I put an emphasis on a handmade experimenting with a wooden material. My aim was to design a chair which would be connecting use of a traditional technique in a modern design and I wished to point out a sense of this combination.”