yamaha design laboratory recreates toy pianos as traditional japanese furniture

yamaha design laboratory recreates toy pianos as traditional japanese furniture

 

sumida toy piano by yamaha design laboratory 

 

What if the piano evolved independently in Japan? Yamaha Design Laboratory asked itself this question at the start of its latest project, a set of three furniture-style pianos developed in collaboration with the Department of Design at Chiba University. The ‘Sumida Toy piano’ prototypes celebrate Japan’s Edo era from several hundred years ago when the country was closed off to the world, cultivating a unique lifestyle that gradually faded once Western influence and modernization settled in. 

yamaha design laboratory recreates toy pianos as traditional japanese furniture
all images © Yamaha Design Laboratory

 

 

inspired by japan’s edo-era houses and furniture

 

Specifically, Yamaha Design Laboratory (see more here) revisited the past-century lifestyle of tenement residents of Edo-Sumida, located in present-day downtown Tokyo. From its study and research, the company came up with three variations of the ‘Sumida Toy piano’ in collaboration with the Chiba University Department of Design. Each prototype features a keyboard built around furniture or architectural elements from the Edo era. 

 

The brand displayed its creations in a space resembling a fictitious Edo-era piano store in Sumida, for a limited time, at the end of March 2022. The prototypes will be moved to the Yamaha Ginza Store in Tokyo in May 2022.

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SUKIMA

 

 

The first prototype, SUKIMA, is inspired by see-through wooden partitions found in Edo-Sumida’s narrow but open ‘Nagaya’ houses. Built originally as free-standing vertical screens that maximize spatial use, the partitions have been reimagined here as metal bars that act as sound units for the protruding keyboard. At closer look, one can notice old Japanese-style patterns, known as ‘asanoha’, engraved atop the keys.  

 

The OTO-TSUKUE piano is a variation the old Japanese writing desk, ‘Fudukue’. This minimal desk with distinctive legs was once used in ‘Terakoya’, an educational facility from the Edo period. ‘If pianos had already existed during this era, Terakoya music schools might have been built, with desks resembling the OTO-TSUKUE,’ explains Yamaha. 

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OTO-TSUKUE

 

 

Finally, the HIKI-TANSU borrows the design of Japanese chest drawers traditionally sent out as a gift for big celebrations like weddings. Fitted with a keyboard as the middle drawer, the Yamaha piece serves as a baby shower present to symbolize new life being fulfilled by music.

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HIKI-TANSU

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HIKI-TANSU, close up view

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SUKI-MA, with old Japanese-sytle patterns 

 

sumida-toy-piano-prototypes-designboom-full

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