YUICHIRO HORI

The CEO and founder of fur­ni­ture brand Stel­lar Works talks about his jour­ney to­wards es­tab­lish­ing a de­sign ap­proach based on tra­di­tional crafts­man­ship, Asian aes­thet­ics and in­no­va­tive in­dus­trial tech­nol­ogy.

Home & Decor (Singapore) - - Contents - View the lat­est col­lec­tion from Stel­lar Works at P5 Stu­dio.

The CEO and founder of fur­ni­ture brand Stel­lar Works talks about his jour­ney to­wards es­tab­lish­ing a de­sign ap­proach based on tra­di­tional crafts­man­ship,

When Yuichiro Hori set out to launch his fur­ni­ture brand in 2008, he had lit­tle idea that it would evolve into an op­er­a­tion that brought to­gether tal­ents from across Asia and Europe.

“It all started when I re­alised the dif­fi­culty in nd­ing re­li­able fur­ni­ture man­u­fac­tur­ers to whom I could out­source my de­signs. I was sup­posed to pro­duce my works in Ja­pan, but the fac­to­ries there were lim­ited in terms of pro­duc­tion ca­pa­bil­ity and a lack of skilled crafts­men. I en­coun­tered the same is­sue in Europe as well, and it was then that I knew I re­ally needed to put to­gether my own pro­duc­tion fa­cil­ity, in ad­di­tion to cre­at­ing the de­signs,” he says.

The search took him to China, Shang­hai in par­tic­u­lar, where Yuichiro found that there was a pool of young and skilled crafts­men. “Some of the tal­ented wood­work­ers were as young as 25, with over a decade of ex­pe­ri­ence in the in­dus­try,” he shares.

How­ever, he also noted that de­spite their amaz­ing tech­niques, many of the fur­ni­ture pieces pro­duced by the work­ers in China were lack­ing in terms of qual­ity and nish.

“The is­sue wasn’t with the crafts­man­ship; it was with the fact that too many com­pa­nies in China were fo­cused on mass pro­duc­tion and that meant com­pro­mis­ing qual­ity con­trol. Those com­pa­nies were also not big on de­tails or con­cepts; they just wanted to churn out fur­ni­ture in the cheap­est and quick­est way pos­si­ble,” he says.

Yuichiro de­cided that there was po­ten­tial in har­ness­ing the tal­ent in Shang­hai, while at the same time util­is­ing sta­teof-the-art tech­nol­ogy from Ja­pan, and the tech­ni­cal and mar­ket­ing know-how from Europe, to cre­ate a brand with a global ap­proach.

He says: “The strength of many Asian man­u­fac­tur­ers lies in their abil­ity to pro­duce in large num­bers, but they lack soft skills like brand­ing and communications. When it comes to mar­ket­ing. Euro­pean brands tend to fare bet­ter in those ar­eas. I wanted to bring them all to­gether to cre­ate an in­ter­na­tional brand that’s pro­duced in Shang­hai but with the same level of strin­gent qual­ity con­trol as a Ja­panese prod­uct, and on the same play­ing eld as es­tab­lished Euro­pean fur­ni­ture brands.”

The brand was launched at Mi­lan De­sign Week in 2012 to pop­u­lar re­cep­tion, and was in­stantly cat­a­pulted to pop sta­tus be­cause of its cult ap­peal. Another fac­tor con­tribut­ing to the suc­cess is Stel­lar Works’ po­si­tion­ing as a form of af­ford­able lux­ury. By of­fer­ing well-made fur­ni­ture with im­pres­sive de­tail at af­ford­able prices, the brand be­came a hit among food-and-bev­er­age, as well as hospi­tal­ity, devel­op­ers.

Shortly af­ter the launch, Yuichiro de­cided to en­gage de­sign duo Neri & Hu as cre­ative di­rec­tors for Stel­lar Works.

“They were one of the de­sign­ers for Stel­lar Works in the be­gin­ning, and I was very im­pressed with their ap­proach to fur­ni­ture de­sign. They are very dif­fer­ent from other de­sign­ers, be­cause of their Amer­i­can and Asian back­grounds. It also helped that they are based in Shang­hai, where the fac­tory is lo­cated, so we can meet of­ten for dis­cus­sions. It was dur­ing a pri­vate trip to a hot spring in Ja­pan, that we re­ally be­gan talk­ing about how they could of­fer a whole new cre­ative di­rec­tion for the brand. We were talk­ing about shar­ing a dream to­gether, and cre­at­ing a brand that is truly from Asia,” he says.

Six years into pro­duc­tion and Stel­lar Works con­tin­ues to draw fans from around the world, with an equal per­cent­age of them from the Amer­i­cas, Europe and Asia. Of those re­gions, Yuichiro men­tions that coun­tries like Spain, Ger­many and the US com­prise his largest mar­kets. Happy to see his brand be­come a global phe­nom­e­non, he in­sists that more can and will be done in the near fu­ture.

“We are in ex­per­i­men­tal stages with a com­mer­cial client to em­bed new tech­nol­ogy into our fur­ni­ture, which can help to col­lect data on which seats in a restau­rant are the most pop­u­lar dur­ing var­i­ous tim­ings, and in­for­ma­tion on the types of cus­tomers that choose a par­tic­u­lar seat in the house. But aside from that, we will con­tinue to re­main fo­cused on the craft of fur­ni­ture mak­ing,” he says.

RIGHT The tripod cafe ta­ble is ideal for both homes and com­mer­cial spa­ces. FAR RIGHT The Wohlert bar chair is part of Stel­lar Works’ lat­est col­lec­tion.

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