Being "One" Deep in the Forest

Kazuto Yoshikawa

Every last is an unusual source of inspiration; the last cycle of life is the real essence behind his work for wood master and artist Kazuto Yoshikawa. And Kazuto, who spent his childhood in rural Fukushima, learned from the forest behind their home that life is a cycle.

There have been many breaking points in Kazuto's life so far. After working for the Italian furniture company Cassina IXC in Japan for 12 years, the earthquake in Tōhoku in 2011 caused him to question life and return to his roots, so to speak. After studying traditional woodworking in Gifu, Japan, he set up his own studio in Tokyo.

Unlike wood craftsmen, Kazuto accepts the inert pieces he finds in the forest with their flaws, almost like the human body, and believes that these imperfections, which carry traces from every moment of life, are innate.

“Each tree expresses itself differently; it depends on the growing conditions. As a matter of fact, if a tree has grown in a difficult terrain, it may have a spiral and twisting form, very small age rings. This makes us admire his life. On the other hand, if we are talking about a tree that grows on an easy land, with its clean and simple veins, it can evoke an aesthetic feeling in us. In any case, I like that the story of the tree's life stays in what I do.”

In Kazuto's wooden bowls, knots or crevices are not cut out to make the form perfect. In other words, it is considered as the traces of the tree's life and it continues to exist with respect to all its moments. Their spoons and knives are smoother. It can also represent a tree that has lived an easier life, or that it is more functionally convenient... Each object is different from each other in its colors and textures, most of which come from Gifu in Mie city.

Kazuto also established his second studio, which he named a day in the woods , at the foot of the mountain in this region, where he is free to mingle with nature and can easily connect with the material.

“I discover many organic forms of nature that cannot be seen in Tokyo. Not only forms, but also sounds, smells and similar patterns in both wood and stone… I am happy to see these, I imagine how they could be formed.”

"A day in the woods" is more than a place where Kazuto continues his work and presents, it's a sanctuary where he reveals himself. Through the workshops it organizes, it creates space for people stuck in the chaos of the city to reconnect with themselves.

Kazuto is a beacon of hope deep in an exciting forest, as the world we live in shrinks with the increase of knowledge, minds are suffocating under the pressure of everyday life, and people are losing touch with themselves in a world full of mass-produced products.

An artist who believes that only handcrafted pieces can have a heart; because the hands are directly connected to the heart.

words: Naz Gürlek

photography: Nicole Franzen, Adrian Gaut, Peter Margonelli