I fell in love with Asian aesthetics during college, while taking classes on Vietnamese and Chinese history with Professor Kagan.
When I was able to visit Asia and see these designs first-hand, the images in my head came to life!
Sumatra: Beautiful Expanses of Solid Wood, and Raised Platforms
Exploring the temples and beautiful, sacred places in Thailand was a source of design inspiration for me. I was treated to a riot of bold, colorful design and rich lustrous hardwoods.
Our Sumatra design was based on the beautiful use of color, rich red-tinted hardwoods, and raised platforms that typify much of South-East Asian architecture.
I particularly love how the dresser, nightstand and bed design is raised slightly above the ground like the temples I visited in Thailand. The Sumatra style looks best in darker woods, or woods with a slight amount of red contrast in the stain.
(Designs evolve over time! Our first versions of the bed included a headboard with a sharp angle. A few design revisions suggested by friends in Spokane Washington helped us to perfect the current design).
Inspiration for our Kyoto and Haiku Designs
Kyoto is the imperial city of ancient Japan, it is a city dense with historic meaning. America's Secretary of War took a personal interest in its preservation, and the city survived much of the firebombing intact.
Kyoto is home to 17 Unesco World Heritage sites due to its density of temples, monuments and castles. Because of this, Kyoto is a great place to see the origin and modernization of Japanese design. It's one of the first cities in Asia that I visited!
The nearby city of Osaka is one of the larger cities in Kyoto, with specialized shopping markets and higher urban density.
Kyoto and Haiku Design Inspiration
Throughout Kyoto, the Buddhist pagoda is a common sight. There seems to be a temple complex in every neighborhood!
The Haiku and Kyoto designs were inspired by the graceful curves of Japanese pagodas. We integrated them into the design of the beds, dressers, chests and nightstands.
My first bedroom set was a Kyoto design. I couldn't decide on just one wood, so I chose two! I love how the maple and cherry mixed woods contrast and complement one another.
The only thing I haven't loved about this bedroom set is the weight, when it comes time to move the dressers. Our crafters don't take shortcuts when it comes to the amount of wood they use, these are truly generational pieces of furniture.
Deep Love of Craft
As I explored the two cities of Kyoto and Osaka, I didn't expect to see such a strong deep and abiding love of artisanship that reminded me of our own crafters back in Minnesota.
The beauty of Japanese designs, their deep love for a job well done, and the way in which their society deeply respects crafts of every shape and size -- it was eye-opening for me.
In Japan, being the very best at one simple thing is a vocation that every crafter can aspire to. Even knife and blade-making. I loved it!
A Customer Haiku for You
We hope that you love our Osaka and Kyoto-inspired designs, like William did:
“Erik Organic is without a doubt one of the best companies we have ever done business with! Our Haiku platform bed arrived exactly in the agreed time frame. The driver delivering the bed was very courteous and helpful. I was blown away with the craftsmanship; there were no flaws anywhere. The joinery was flawless and the stain was perfect. Overall, a great product at a reasonable price!
We were so pleased we composed a Haiku for you:
Haiku in dark oak
Wow, fantastic craftsmanship,
Many thanks, William Bushman”
Tansu: Inspired by Kurama Onsen
Mount Kurama is a sacred mountain in Japan, that my host suggested that I visit. There's a train up into the mountains, ending at Mount Kurama. There's also a traditional hot spring hotel (an Onsen), with traditional Japanese service and attire. I loved the beautiful mountain setting.
When I created the Tansu design, I wanted to evoke the feeling of being in a traditional Japanese Onsen (hot spring hotel) or home.
The art of separating rooms with symmetrical screens seemed like a beautiful idea to me, and we found an elegant way to make the screens themselves a functional part of the dresser design.
My Tansu Bedroom Set
My own Tansu bedroom set was created from Minnesota walnut hardwood (my favorite wood!), with just a bit of darkening stain to bring out the beauty of the wood grain.
Tansu is the name used for intricate Japanese woodworking of many depths and layers. I wanted to honor that heritage with a beautiful bedroom set with intricate detail in the headboard and dresser fronts.
Waterfall: Inspiration from Tokyo's Furniture District
Embracing the slightly creatively odd Japanese aesthetic, the Waterfall design captures your attention when you enter the room with its off-beat design.
Due to the design of the drawers and headboard and footboard, each Waterfall set is a custom size. The Waterfall design is truly 'not for everyone'. Kind of like Tokyo's hedgehog cafes!
Please contact us if you'd like more information on our quirky Waterfall set, which requires a customized process to assure the right size for your home.
Masters of Wood Art
I saw many beautiful pieces like this when I toured the Tokyo furniture district, pieces that captivated my attention with their delicacy, intricacy and creativity!
Now that I've seen how craftsmanship is done in the heart of the Tokyo furniture district, I realize that our crafters share the Japanese love for finely done and perfected work.
Our crafters select their hardwood from the local lumberyards like a fine sushi chef in Tokyo ... carefully eyeballing the Hamachi to see how fresh it is.
Our crafters take the time to match the wood to the project, carefully selecting hardwood lumber to assure a beautiful and unique piece of furniture.
Their love of craft translates into the spectacular quality of Erik Organic furniture, and it's a large part of why I felt so home in Japan. They have a shared love of excellence.
An Important Lesson from Japan
One of the reasons that Japanese crafters are able to specialize in one amazing skillset, is because the Japanese people support their crafters with a remarkably robust gift economy.
(Photo showing gifts for friends, my last trip to Asia: Not shown: Cristina's daughter Julia was gifted 2 boxes of crazy Kit Kat flavors. They're like Pokemon for some people -- gotta catch 'em all).
The crafters that we work with at Erik Organic are the same as their Japanese counterparts. They rely on your purchase of Erik Organic furniture to earn a living for their families.