Tomoko Azumi

Article I wrote on designer Tomoko Azumi, for the Eiger Gallery website …

The ‘Queen of Chairs’ (as we like to think of her), Tomoko Azumi was born in Hiroshima, Japan, in 1966. Initially she studied architecture at Kyoto City University of Arts, and then worked for a few years in an architectural practice in Tokyo, before later moving to London and graduating with an MA in Furniture Design from The Royal College of Art in 1995. After that, she and her partner formed the AZUMI design studio. In 2005 Tomoko established the T.N.A Design Studio in Hackney, north-east London, where she has been working ever since. At T.N.A she is the head of a multi-cultural design team that operate a furniture, product, exhibition and retail interior design consultancy for multinational clients.

The idea for building up our collective of great people at Eiger is simple – we consider the designers we like and admire, creative minds who haven’t necessarily worked with our materials and manufacturing processes before, and invite them to challenge themselves by bringing the skills and knowledge from their native fields into jewellery. With Tomoko this idea was no different, and she was promptly invited to take part by Eiger designer Terence Woodgate. Happily for us, Tomoko accepted

An image I had at the beginning of this project was from the title of the brand, Eiger,’ said Tomoko, when speaking about what first sparked her interest in joining Eiger. ‘It was an illustrated Finsteraarhorn on a Swiss postage stamp, which represents a simplified visual interpretation of “upheaval”, a disturbance that is created by the movement of the earth’s crust and also by the carving by the glacier. Then we started to look at folding paper techniques to repeat this idea of “when you press both ends of material and the middle goes higher” phenomenon. The transition from paper to silver worked so well.’

One of Tomoko’s more iconic pieces is the‘Table=Chest’ for Röthlisberger in 1995, which exhibited in the new Furniture Gallery at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. This not being her only such recognised piece, Tomoko has works displayed in other UK collections, as well as at the Stedelijk Museum in Holland.

In 2004 she extended her prowess even further, designing for the prestigious Italian brand La Palma with the chair Avia. Although she has designed many chairs, all of her works of seating art meld perfectly with each of the brands they are produced for. And as well as more than meeting their purpose, they all maintain a distinct uniqueness from one another when considered individually.

Tomoko’s work has a creative knack for using the visual aesthetic of an object to enhance everyday life for its owner. But it is her ability to combine beautifully formed pieces with flawless functionality which really gets our juices flowing when thinking about her work, and how pleased we are to have her as a part of our team. SH

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