Working with utilitarian products was familiar territory for product and interior designer Riki Watanabe, a pioneer of post-war design in Japan. Some of his most recognised pieces stand out for their clever use of everyday materials such as cardboard and rope, which he crafted into furniture that reconciled traditional and familiar Japanese forms with modernist ideals.
Fifty-five years on, the Riki Stool, which Watanabe designed in 1965, is a superb example of a product that stands the test of time and material integrity. Made in Japan from cardboard, the flat-pack product is easily assembled by interlocking its pieces into a lightweight (about 800g) stool, which is strong enough to bear 740kg of weight on its comfy, slightly concave seat.
Watanabe established his own design studio in 1949, with his low-cost String Chair (designed in 1952) launching his name in Japan and internationally, and forming the foundation of a career that spanned interior, furniture and product design, international recognition, as well as a very long life – Watanabe lived until he was 101.
The Riki stool is a whimsically colourful piece that serves as a stool and a side table, a product that Marta Buda of Studio Best Wishes says: “We’ve been waiting a long time for this stock, and I’m a bit excited by it.”
Studio Best Wishes