March 29, 2021

The TRUCK Furniture showroom in Osaka, Japan. Photo: Courtesy of TRUCK.


Creative Humans: Say hello to TRUCK.


By Meggie Sullivan.

The Humanist welcomes furniture brand, TRUCK, to its pages. Since 1997, TRUCK’s founders, Tokuhiko (Tok) Kise and Hiromi Karatsu, have been guided by a simple approach to their creative work and craftsmanship: To create what they want and would use themselves. 

TRUCK’s first furniture collection, first made 24 years ago, was emblematic of this idea and newfangled for its time. It embraced the inherent nature and flaws of its wood, as the pieces purposefully expressed their knots, textures, and rougher qualities. It could be argued that TRUCK’s trademark style sparked design trends here in the U.S. By 2010,  design catalogues and stores were saturated with exposed wood pieces and a very similar ‘lived-in’ furniture aesthetic.

Today, TRUCK continues to create high quality works that are made to last a lifetime––from day beds to denim tote bags––at their on-site workshop, which lives under the same roof as their showroom and cafe, Bird.   

TRUCK’s ethos is a strong testament to the piece of advice we share often at Hello Human: Stay true to what drives your artistic vision.

Read on as we explore the how, why and inspirations behind Tok’s practice and the principles that guide TRUCK.
Designer, craftsman, and founder of TRUCK, Tok Kise. Photo by: Justin Chung.




Name

Tokuhiko Kise


Company Founded

1997


Location

Osaka, Japan


Website

https://www.truck-furniture.co.jp/


Company Profile

TRUCK is a furniture company that we, Tokuhiko Kise and Hiromi Karatsu, started in 1997. We create furniture that we want ourselves, regardless of popular trends or fashions.

We make furniture that accentuates and emphasizes the natural beauty of the wood, leather, and metal that it is made of. We don't make pieces that are showy or different for the sake of being different, but rather those that are made to last and be used over a lifetime.

We also believe that the environment in which our furniture is displayed is just as important as the furniture itself, so we do not sell it anywhere else but here in our store in Osaka, where we can take special care of the entire space. For our customers including those who can't make it to our store to see and feel the ambiance of our space, we created our catalogs, TRUCK WORKS, to showcase our furniture. We used our home where we lived with and used the furniture and our shop as the backdrop, then shot and styled the photos by ourselves, using whatever we had around us. Our space in Osaka is where our style of creating and selling will never change.





Inside the TRUCK furniture showroom located in Osaka, Japan. 
Photo: Courtesy of TRUCK.

What do you do before you get up and create every morning?
I usually get up pretty early in the morning and take my dog for a walk. Then I get home and have a coffee, and sometimes I read or listen to records in my study. I think that makes for a good start to the day.


Is it the problem or the solution that fuels your design practice?   
If had to say, I would say that it’s a mix of both, but I’m not sure that it’s either. Why I make things is simple: Some of what I create is something I want, so I make it myself. Or it’s something that I see somewhere and want to make something new out of. But I don’t force myself to create. Ideas just come when they come, and I go with it.

What’s your spirit material? 
I’ve always found myself drawn to the mountains and nature. And, I have been working with wood ever since I started carpentry. I like how it looks and feels, and how I can shape it into whatever I want it to be. I also work with leather. I like how it develops its own unique ‘personality’ over time, changing color and texture from the way and how much you use it and even from the oils on your hands.


A design/art/architecture project that you always return to for inspiration?
It’s not directly connected to design or art, but when I read the works of certain friends or artists, like Kentaro or Kunichi Nomura, I get the urge to write and create. I’m inspired by their process and why they do what they do. I just imagine them working hard to bring their vision to life and find myself wanting to do the same. Nature is an important part of my life and work, so going out into the fresh air around a lot of trees or taking my motorcycle out for a ride makes me feel good.


Three words that describe your practice
Nostalgic. Cozy. Warm.


What does the future of design look like to you? 
I’m not really sure. There are many creative people out there doing and making interesting things. But I don’t think of what I do as art or design, I just make things that I would want to have or use in a way that I think looks good, so I don’t think about those other things much. 


How do you use design for good?
I’m not sure if this counts, but when something I’ve made makes someone happy, I think that’s a nice thing. Like when a customer sinks down in one of our chairs or sofas and says, ‘Wow, this is really comfortable,’ or takes a bite of a warm, fresh-made donut at our cafe Bird and gets this big smile on their face, I can see that they’re happy, and I am too.





The exterior of TRUCK Furniture’s showroom and workshop. Photo: Courtesy of TRUCK Furniture.

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