International Furniture Design Competition

Comments by the Judges

Noritsugu Oda


I have been part of the judging panel for the competition part of the International Furniture Design Fair Asahikawa since the previous competition. I have judged various competitions and always feel keenly that being a judge means being judged myself. Judges have a responsibility to evaluate each work fairly, taking into account not only its quality but its marketability, originality and whether it meets society’s needs. There is a peculiar tension running through a judging panel and it does indeed feel as if I myself am being judged on the validity of my decision.

None of the works in this competition made as strong an impact as “Barca”, the previous Gold Leaf winner. However, this year’s winner, “Half Chair”, highlighted the importance of designing with a clear concept in mind. “Half Chair” was designed on the unique concept of limiting the seat size to ensure correct posture, and as a result the chair is perfect for use by musicians such as cellists.

“Universal design” is a buzzword in design these days, but I feel that when people design with no target in mind, the message gets lost, and I cannot help but feel that this has permeated every field of design. What designers really need to do is create perfection under limited conditions. With universal, barrier-free design, the essence is lost, and I believe that “Half Chair” highlights this. This chair was the only work to receive a unanimous vote, which suggests that other panel members may agree with me.

An excellent design is one that is powerful and has potential for variation. “Half Chair” is no exception: in addition to musical settings, it is suitable for use in small spaces such as kitchens and entrance halls of houses. Changing the depth of the seat will create even more uses and variations.

As “Half Chair” has a Scandinavian style, I guessed that the designer was originally from northern Europe. We later found out that he was a Korean designer studying in Finland. Scandinavian design and craftsmanship place great importance on ascertaining the circumstances in which the item will be used. . It is clear that the designer of “Half Chair” was greatly influenced by what he had learned during his time in Finland.

Noritsugu Oda

Noritsugu Oda

Professor, Tokai University, Japan

Noritsugu Oda was born in Kochi Prefecture, Japan in 1946. Graduating from Osaka University of Arts, he worked for the advertising section of a department store and then became a freelance illustrator. He has worked as a part-time lecturer at Osaka University of Arts, Kobe Gakuin Women's Junior College, Saga Art College, NHK Cultural Center and Technology, Tokai University.

Noritsugu Oda has authored "Nihon-no Ie" (Houses of Japan, Fukuinkan Shoten Publishing), "Hans J Wegner's 100 Chairs" (Heibonsha), "Danish Chairs," "200 Chairs" (World Photo Press), and "The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Chairs" (Shinchosha Publishing).