Jan Goderis’ Japan Chair is a sustainable, minimal sitting unit that combines design and architecture in the most functional way

Gent, Belgium

Jan Goderis of jan goderis design lab has designed the Japan Chair which started as a research project in the quest for a basic sitting position on which the design is modeled.

The most notable concept in this Japan chair is the sophisticated play of proportions and its metal frame, which is combined with both wood and leather.

The Japan Chair has been recently awarded the 2022 Prize Designs for Modern Furniture and Lighting Award from Global Design News and The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design.

Thanks to the contrast of metal and wood, the fully shaped design gets a contemporary twist. Because of this, the design can be personalized and perfectly integrated into various interiors.

The Japan chair functions as a resting point; while at the same time it is meant to radiate an architectural monumentality.

“Sustainability is a key element in my design process,” explains Jan Goderis.

That’s why he focuses on comfort, functionality, and qualitative materials so that it is useful and relevant for multiple generations. And thus goes beyond the psychological lifespan, imposed by “fashion phenomena.”

It gets a “cultural lifespan (Enzo Manzini 1975)” and becomes more beautiful with age, allows easy care, and is connected to its users which ensures my furniture can be viable for generations to come.

Japan Chair 2022

The leather will acquire a patina and conform to the body, making the chair even more beautiful and comfortable. I am always looking for greener alternatives to ensure ecological responsibility for future production.

The metal for example has been treated with an environmentally friendly lacquer process and the leather is tanned using the right kind of ecological wood rosin.

The FSC-wood has been produced using a technology based on biologically degradable two-component oil.

Although the chair has a minimalist look, it is the product of extensive aesthetic and technical research.

A great deal of effort was put into the design process to ensure the most comfortable reclining position.

Besides the front wooden legs are milled hollow in one direction and the rear ones in two directions.

Japan Chair by Jan Goderis

While it is impossible to craft this manually, the use of innovative CNC machines makes such precise woodwork possible.

The leather on the back of the chair is fixed with wooden pins, which keep the leather sturdily in place and it will get smoother over the years.

I also experimented with different materials to stretch the leather on the seat.

“My ultimate goal is to achieve maximum functionality with a minimum of materials, which is why I look for innovative potential in traditional materials,” states Goderis.

“I have delighted in making use of the latest techniques both in my design process and for the actual fabrication,” he continues.

A beautiful example of this is the research and development of new strategies that will take the Japan collection into greater production using new materials such as polyurethane skin for the back and seat.

Project: Japan Chair
Designer: jan goderis design lab
Lead Designer: Jan Goderis
Manufacturer: jan goderis design lab