Any order placed from 05/06 will be shipped on 17/06

Rio Kobayashi

Published 13 / 01 / 2023

Born in Japan, you have traveled a lot in Europe. Can you tell us about your different experiences ?

It's a long story ! I grew up in Japan, in the countryside near Tokyo, surrounded by my craftsman parents - my potter father and my conservator mother. I did all my school years in Japan in civil engineering while being very interested in architecture and product design. I was immediately very curious to visit Europe, then I stayed in Austria for 7 years, where my grandmother lives. I then started to learn German and I did an apprenticeship in furniture making company for 3 years then internship in furniture design at Pudelskern, a local design studio in Innsbruck tyrol, during which I developed many skills. I then moved to Berlin and started developing my own design projects as a freelancer. I have got a job offer from London to curate and design exhibition in Milan design week so I helped him and started working for him. We went to Milan together and he motivated me a lot and pushed me to start my own projects. 5 years ago, I started my own collection of furniture.

Do you think your travels have influenced your work ? 

Certainly yes. I was influenced by a certain cultural mix. My parents traveled a lot when they were young, so they have friends around the world. As a child, it is very enriching to meet people who do not have the same culture as you. It allowed me to open my mind. For this reason, I think that I never really belonged to a single culture.

In my work, I try to find this right mix between my different influences. This can be seen in the different interpretations that my objects offer; everyone can find a certain meaning in it when others find a different one (as for the ZARUCOLANDER colander for example).

You worked for international design studios. What did it get you ?

I worked with the artist Taro Izumi with whom I developed some projects at the Palais de Tokyo. This collaboration really gave me the desire to bring real meaning to the design but also to be very rigorous in the work. I then had the opportunity to work with the designer Martino Gamper with whom I learned to create while having fun, to do things before thinking and then to see how it evolves. Two different but enriching visions !

You are both a designer and a maker: you create your own projects in your studio in London. How did you learn to be a craftsman ?  

I grew up naturally in this environment, my parents, for example, built several houses by themselves in Japan. Then once in Austria, in the Tyrol region, I worked for a carpentry company specializing in furniture. Thanks to this environment I was able to learn the basics of woodworking - cutting, planing, preparing and laying veneer etc - which I can now pass on to others. It also helped me to create new projects while being aware of production, which I believe is important as a designer.

Do you still work the same way, by designing and manufacturing ? 

Recently, I started working with a company where I design projects and they implement them. It's a very different job for me because I don't make the objects I imagine. Nevertheless, it is rewarding to work in another way, while keeping your creative spirit and technical knowledge.

You were part of the Local Ware project in 2021 as a guest designer. What got you interested in this project ?  

The subject of cooking interested me because I really like everything it evokes - lifestyle, gastronomy, sharing. It is important to feel good in your kitchen to enjoy spending time there and cooking for others. This also goes for me in the acquisition of efficient and aesthetic utensils - just like in a carpentry workshop! Many of my creations are born from moments of sharing. It inspires me and pushes me to create new things. For Local Ware project, we took the time to interact with the designers, all coming from different cultures, which is why I really enjoyed working for this project.

His ZARUCOLANDER is now published by OROS and can be found on our Online Store !