Nendo reinvents the chopstick
The 4000-year-old eating implement is given a contemporary twist by the world-renowned design agency
We are used seeing some pretty impressive work from Oki Sato and his fellow multi-disciplinarians at Nendo. The Toronto-born architecture graduate has design studios in Tokyo and Milan, and a client list that includes Armani, Calvin Klein, Camper, Cartier, Coca-Cola, Haagen-Dazs, Hermes, Issey Miyake, Moleskine, Starbucks and Swarovski.
Yet there’s a lesser-known brand that’s had a bit of Nendo magic sprinkled on it recently. Hashikura Matsukan is a 92-year-old chopstick manufacturer based in the town of Obama, far north of the Japanese capital. Up till now, much of its output has been traditionally lacquered chopsticks.
Now, working with Nendo, they have produced two new innovations. Rather than create a pair of individual utensils, Nendo’s Rassen chopsticks form a single unit in the shape of an elongated cone. When these are separated, they reveal the twist in their wooden handles.
Meanwhile, Nendo’s designers introduced magnetism into their Kamiai chopsticks, so that they too were less likely to become separated from each other when not in use. The magnet sits in an indentation in one side of the square stick, “so that the two would snap together in one piece when they are flipped and fitted to each other”, Nendo explains.
Both versions fit perfectly with Nendo’s philosophy of “giving people a small ‘!’ moment.” “There are so many small ‘!’ moments hidden in our every day,” Nendo say, “but we believe these small ‘!’ moments are what make our days so interesting, so rich.”
Not sure about the grammar there, but we certainly approve of the innovation. For more on this, go here. For greater insight into the wonders of Japanese design, get a copy of our new book, Wa; and for a pocket-sized guide to a thousand years of product design, pick up a copy of our Design Book.