Asahikawa day 3 – part 2

February 21st, 2011

Well, we’re back from Hokkaido, we arrived yesterday at around 3, got home, ordered a pizza, and tried our best to keep the place clean while we unpacked. We still have a lot of posts to do, but Asahikawa was just so epic I think day 3 may need to become a 3 part post. I know that sounds crazy, but we’re home now, and aside from a pile of emails that need tending to, we’ll be able to do the posts a lot more frequently.

There have been a couple of home tours during this trip, but this specific home is quite the departure. We drove up a private driveway to a concrete home in the hills. I didn’t know where we were or who exactly we were meeting but on our schedule it said “lunch with Mr. Oda (tentative)” so I figured if we did manage to snag this meeting, we were very lucky.

Professor Oda Noritsugu, or Oda-san is very well known in Japan and abroad as a master historian on Scandinavian design, writing many books on the subject and having one the of the most extensive collections of mid-century Scandinavian design in the world. Here is a photo of him (left) kneeling down next to Finn Juhl, a name that will be frequently mentioned during this post.

For instance this sofa.

It is a one of a kind prototype by Finn Juhl. I have never seen it before in my life. It was spectacular in person.

A book by professor Oda, “Hans Wegner 100 chairs“. Professor Oda mentions he owns over one hundred pieces by Hans Wegner alone (over 150 pieces by Finn Juhl).

Professor Oda was generous with his time, he took us on a full tour of his home, opening drawers and sharing his collections of Axel Salto ceramics, tea services, and cutlery. Allowing us to photograph everything along the way.

We saw a glass display case with many prototypes of the Duckling by Hans Bolling, a piece that we sell in our shop.

A Finn Juhl Chieftain chair prototype with brass cup holder.

Only a few were ever produced.

The original Chieftain chair sitting near the window.

Professor Oda took us down a floating staircase to a double height space with large windows. The sofa in the photo is by Borge Mogensen, with a mouth blown art piece behind glass by Tapio Wirkkala.

In the basement there were hundreds of chairs in storage, which he often shares with exhibitions world wide. The exhibition he was working on currently was specifically for Finnish glass. There was a secret study room that he showed us which had a Borge Mogensen shaker sofa, a pile of books, and pages from online auctions of rare pieces Professor Oda was interested in.

We headed back upstairs for some cake.

We all sat around a large Poul Kjaerholm table with PK9 dining chairs.

I took out my iPad to show a couple images of the store.

I got to a photo of our desk showing the Trinidad chair by Nanna Ditzel and Professor Oda grabbed a book and pointed to this chair by Ditzel. It will be back in production fairly soon under the name “Oda chair”, I was stunned to see how strong professor Oda’s influence was. To have a chair named after you is pretty spectacular.

The central fireplace heated the entire room. I could feel the heat just sitting at the PK table.

We shared a very inspirational conversation about the longevity of a well made product. Professor Oda pulled out a scarf and a pair of leather gloves that he has personally owned for over 40 years. He held up his scarf and told me that when he was younger he purchased this wool scarf that was well beyond his salary, it took him a very long time to be able to afford it, but he purchased it with the intention of having it for at least 25 years. That he said is the magic number, if you can’t pick a product up and say confidently that this product will serve you well for a minimum of 25 years, it is not a good purchase. Needless to say the scarf is well over 40 years old, and he continues to enjoy it today.

He mentioned that a lot of design today is design for the sake of design, for the sake to make money, to make trendy and unnecessary products. A company will approach a designer and say “make this for us at this price point” instead of allowing the designer to have the freedom of design and freedom to use good quality materials. It is up to the customer to protest against this disposable design, ask for better quality and say I want good design, not design for the sake of design.

It was a very inspirational talk, and it made us fee so good about what we are trying to do with the store.

The bedroom.

There were a few Finn Juhl 45 lounge chairs around from different time periods, it was interesting the see how the shape subtly changed from the prototype to the manufactured version. He also own a 45 chair with a solid wenge frame, a one of a kind piece that was just gorgeous in person. Our photos didn’t do it justice.

A very rare pear shaped folding coffee table by Finn Juhl.

Royal Copenhagen in the entrance.

Me with Professor Oda, what an honour. Thank you again for showing us around your home, it was a real pleasure.

Filed under: Travel | 18 comments

18 Responses to 'Asahikawa day 3 – part 2'

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  1. I can see now why you said Arashikawa was epic, I would die to see Oda san’s home! Thanks for sharing his inspiring talk too.


    21 Feb 11 at 10:20 pm

  2. wow – what a fantastic visit


    22 Feb 11 at 12:50 am

  3. Seriously! Scandinavian design overload! Just WOW.


    22 Feb 11 at 1:16 am

  4. Mr. Oda said in a magazine that he has had so many supporters around Scandinavia, including Wegner, Fin Juhl, much more designers & product companies like PP mobler, Johanes Hansen, Carl Hansen. The Scandinavians opened the door because Mr. Oda’s aim was (and will be) `study’. If he had been just a collector, They might not have accepted him, I guess.

    Yoda Yuji

    22 Feb 11 at 5:07 am

  5. Amazing.. That book on Wegner is on my list


    22 Feb 11 at 11:19 am

  6. Thank you so much for sharing this, I bet you are still pondering this one house visit. I totally agree with the 25 year statement.

  7. What a unique and inspiring trip! Can I ask how you were able to create such a wonderful itinerary?!

    Nikko Moy

    22 Feb 11 at 12:01 pm

  8. Nikko – Thank you! It was a pretty special trip! All I can say is, this portion of the trip was planned in full by our hosts and friends. We were very fortunate.

    John & Juli

    22 Feb 11 at 1:39 pm

  9. Blows me away! Honestly, envious but more importantly inspired by your trip and connections you have made and thank you so much for sharing this experience on your blog. We are all closer than what we think neh?

    Jerry Hipsh

    22 Feb 11 at 1:45 pm

  10. No words. That is incredible. Everything is just so beautiful…

    the brick house

    22 Feb 11 at 4:12 pm

  11. Wow, wow, wow. What a very special tour! Thank you to John, Juli and Professor Oda for making it possible.

    Anna @ D16

    22 Feb 11 at 4:19 pm

  12. Totally amazing.


    22 Feb 11 at 8:18 pm

  13. Amazing! Read his books, but never seen his home. Amazing, he must be the owner of the most important collection of Scandinavian design.


    23 Feb 11 at 6:36 am

  14. Insane — almost cluttered with furniture gems. I guess in person it all comes together, and they do say the more furniture in a room the bigger it feels! Actually, particularly love the rug that’s under the pear-shaped coffee table. You see it in a number of the photos and it’s incredible!


    23 Feb 11 at 10:02 am

  15. P.S. What’s the story behind the cutlery?


    23 Feb 11 at 10:05 am

  16. Ben – sorry, we can’t remember it was all so overwhelming. But there were so many drawers of silverware it was pretty crazy. I mean, it wasn’t just a furniture bonanza, it was an everything bonanza!


    26 Feb 11 at 12:37 pm

  17. Hi! This is Tai.
    I really wanna go Oda-san’s house! and other please where i haven’t been too.
    Now, You guys know Asahikawa better than me :p
    Thank u for sharing awesome pics and I’m a big fan of your blog!


    24 Feb 11 at 9:52 am

  18. It must have been an experience! I love the idea of not just design, but good design. Going back to the idea of functionality with design rather than I want something that looks modern/Scandinavian/contemporary/warm/[insert adjective]. I love the last picture where he wears his slippers with socks (:


    7 Mar 11 at 2:46 pm

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