“Often it's not me that decides what to do with the wood; But that particular wood – with its knots, its grains, and its free edge that tells me what it wants to become… I am only the translator.”
Wood and Ocean
Wood and Ocean: the two things fascinated me ever since I was a child. As a boy of 15, I built a small boat and did a lot of day-sailing along the coast. As a young man at 30, I had a bigger sailing boat; a 38-foot wooden yacht named Tradewind which I soon took into the open waters on a 7-year adventure around the world. But early into that journey, in the Australian waters, a hurricane struck and my yacht capsized suffering severe damage. The limited budget I was restricted to forced me to do the repairs myself – a job that would take a whole year. But it became an opportunity of a lifetime. For at the end of that period, I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life – to be a professional wood craftsman.
The approach to woodI usually buy the wood as a log. When possible, I like to go along with a woodcutter into the forest. I have the log cut into the right size and bring it to my workshop. There it is allowed to rest and age for a full year (at least). To keep wood in the workshop without using it for a year or more, costs money and demands patience. But this is an essential step as the prolonged seasoning ensures that the furniture that is created does not start to warp or bend again. It is after this process that the moment finally arrives when I can meet the face of the tree. It is at this moment, that ‘we' - the wood and myself - decide what the wood wants to become…
What I make
I specialize in Japanese style furniture – both traditional and contemporary. My designs follow two types of expression: one that is linear and straight, following the geometry of the essential line; and the other, flowing with the organic form of the tree, keeping to the free edge and the uneven movement. In either case, the top surface is finished to a perfect flatness that is both smooth and burnished. As a technique of construction, I use Japanese traditional joinery (ki-gumi).
What I love making is furniture that has a warm and mysterious feel to it… furniture that has a ‘personality' of its own… something that can become a part of the home and a living presence…
Whatever is made is done in accordance with the nature of the wood, its shape, and grain pattern. I am also open to working together with customers on special requests for a one-of-a-kind designs, or to work with special woods that one may want something to be created from. Besides Auroville, my furniture has found a place in private homes in India, Japan, Germany, France, USA and Italy. I care very much for every single piece of furniture; each piece is unique and requires attention to smallest detail. This is the reason why the workshop produces only a limited number of pieces.
‘Kenji's workshop' is located in South India - Tamil Nadu – Auroville – Kottakarai, a quiet community surrounded by dense green foliage, mango trees and frequented by peacocks.
See also Kenji's website http://www.japaneseartfurniture.com/