Minami-Oguni, Kumamoto, Japan

When there is a story behind a design or something unusual that inspires a design, it makes for a more compelling project, rather than design for the sake of design. So when we recently spoke to Kumamoto interior and lifestyle brand, FIL, they introduced a furniture line inspired by the “inky black” landscape of Noyaki; Aso’s annual controlled burning of the grassland. Noyaki is a millennium old tradition in Aso to preserve the grasslands. The landscape is a symbol of the human relationship with nature. Locals have been and continue to maintain and use the grasslands to undertake sustainable farming and agriculture.

The MASS Series “SUMI LIMITED” features a contrast between different materials, combining a steel frame with charred cedar, which beautifully represents the inky black landscape. This series was conceived with a view to gaining a deeper understanding of Noyaki, a tradition serving as one of the mainstays of Aso’s scenery. This tradition has preserved Aso’s majestic scenery for over a thousand years, forging deep bonds amongst locals. In the history behind this landscape, created by people and nature over the centuries, one can find a hint to a rich and fulfilling life.

“SUMI LIMITED” is designed to express the unique Aso experience, where people and nature co-exist and thrive together in a majestic yet harsh volcanic environment, along with the seeds of life sprouting from the inky black world of Noyaki. This series is limited to just 25 units sold annually. The number is based on the 25 Oguni cedar saplings which were granted in the Edo period to grow forests.

Looking further into the design of the furniture line, cedar is charred to gain glossiness and organic features with defined grains. Charred colour acts as a reminder of Noyaki. It represents Aso’s history and beauty of a harmonic lifestyle with nature. The series includes a lounge chair, dining chair, coffee table, two stools, and a coat hanger. The clean-cut design with smoothly planed cedar and elegantly prepared steel frames invites you to touch and feel it.

FIL is based in Minami-Oguni, Kumamoto prefecture. Rather than just making products, FIL came about with an ambition to protect and preserve the landscape and natural resources that communities cherished and harness it for future generations. FIL makes locally produced furniture, aroma products, and other daily-use items, pursuing the values of “fulfilling life” through design.

In the shop