Karumi: high-tech craftsmanship redefining the art of bamboo

WOMEN AND MEN

Karumi: high-tech craftsmanship redefining the art of bamboo

Bamboo is a symbol of prosperity in the Japanese archipelago. Light and elegant, it grows at a remarkable rate and can even withstand earthquakes. Its wood is widely used in Japan’s construction and craft industries. For over a decade, the Hermès partner firm Hinoki Kougei has been using this material in the world of contemporary furniture and design.
In 2017, Portuguese architect and 1992 Pritzker prize winner Álvaro Siza Vieira, put this material to the test by designing three seats – a bench and two stools – for Hermès. How did he succeed in showcasing its purity and lightness?
Coaxed by the expert cabinetmakers at Hinoki Kougei, the tough bamboo succeeded where the original material of flexible wicker had failed.
For ten years, this artisan business, established by Chuzo Tozawa in Tokyo in 1977, has been revisiting the art of moulding this traditional material to create unique pieces.
The canes arrive, still green, from the dense forests of Kyoto on the island of Honshu, and from Kagoshima on the island of Kyushu. They are harvested between December and February. In the workshop, the 34 artisans begin by slicing the wood into thin strips. These are then flexible enough to be bonded together and transferred to moulds, in order to acquire the multiple curves that form the bench and stools. Carbon fibre is its other secret, extending like an invisible spinal column inside the longest section of the bench to strengthen it.
Behind the name Karumi, which means “purity through simplicity”, is hidden high-end craftsmanship which perpetuates ancestral know-how by combining it with ingenious technical innovation.

 

Discover more

 
 
 
  • Les ateliers de Fitilieu, a pilot training site

    This new workshop for leatherworkers from the Savoie-Dauphiné cluster, is finding innovative ways to welcome more people with disabilities.
  • The leather school: passing on values and skills

    A joint training programme supports Hermès’ development in leather goods. It provides a link between the many artisan specialisations and the leather goods workshops located all over France.
  • Tandem,
    a decade of open-mindedness

    In late 2008, an artisan from the leather workshop in Sayat laid down his tools in Puy-de-Dôme to spend a week behind a counter with a sales associate at the faubourg Saint-Honoré store in Paris. It was the start of the Tandem exchanges.
     

Our imprint on......

  • Les femmes et les hommes

    Hermès employs 15417 men and women, including 5200 craftspeople, who form the first métier of the house. This land of hand changes and hires nonstop. To train, pass on, develop, ensure well-being, health and solidarity… Our ambition is to stimulate the personal growth of everyone involved.
  • The Planet

    Hermès endeavors to exalt, in twenty or so métiers, the most beautiful materials offered by nature. Our artisans’ skillful hands respect leather, silk, fabric, wood, crystal and precious metals. To preserve, optimize, revalue and draw… Our duty is to achieve the sustainable use of these resources.
  • The communities

    Hermès owns 43 of its 55 manufactures in France and more than 300 stores around the world. Our proximity with suppliers, partners and territories is cultivated in the field. To fertilize, mesh, renovate and be committed… Our role, as an environment-friendly company, is to build sustainable ties.