CHOWA

調和 (Chowa) loosely: Pursuit of Harmony

As its name suggests, CHOWA sits within the intersection between the centuries-old traditional crafts of Japan, and energy of the creative, contemporary New York City. CHOWA is a creative kiri-bako practice based in TriBeCa, started in 2023 with intention of bringing new thought to the traditional practice of kiri-bako, through cross cultural collaborations and original design objects.

Each object is designed in New York City, at our studio, and then crafted in rural Fukuyama. Our small creative team works in tandem with the workshop in Japan, forging a unique dialogue, resulting in uniquely process driven results.

FACTORY

Akebono Kougei is located in Fukuyama, Japan. Akebono Kougei is currently run by Mayumi Kuwada. She took over the business from her father 桑田實, a skilled craftsman who ran the factory from 1972 to 2003.

KIRI-BAKO

Our boxes are handcrafted in kiri-bako style: a wooden box making practice with over 300 years of history in Japan. These boxes have long been used in Japan as a way to store precious items such as equipments for tea ceremony.

PAULOWNIA

The pieces are made in Paulownia timber, a material historic to the Bingo region the factory resides in: not only authentic to the practice, it is ecologically exceptional, and forms sustainable modes of timber production.

SPACES

CHOWA’s TriBeCa Showroom marks its first foray into physical spaces, constructed in collaboration with Serious Construction in 2023, the space embodies the practice materially, through the use of paulownia timber, with references to Japan and New York throughout.

CHOWA is pleased to announce that there are new spaces in the works, soon to be presented.

PORTRAIT

Chowa was founded by Ray Suzuki in 2023. Born in New York but raised in Tokyo, Ray Suzuki is a bi-cultural designer whose background directly mirrors the Chowa project. Growing up, he frequently traveled between Tokyo and New York to visit his fashion-designer father. Ray found harmony between the contemporary creative communities of New York and the traditional culture of Japan, which he has always been connected to through practicing Urasenke style tea ceremony.

My interest in craftsmanship was transformed into action upon witnessing the replacement of handmade kiri-bako boxes with machine-made plastic packaging. Relics of Japanese history, these boxes represent the passing down of historic practices from generation to generation: an experience that becomes less common by the decade.

To me, merging the wisdom of sustainable craftsmanship with contemporary ideas leads to a radical solution: sustainable luxury.

I visited Akebono Kougei, our partner factory in Fukuyama, Japan, and spoke to a master artisan who has been working at the same table for the past 40 years since he was 18.

With a gentle smile, he said, "I still learn new things every day. The idea of making boxes that will protect treasured items, perhaps something priceless for someone, motivates me to improve."

Upon hearing this, I became committed to the celebration of this craft, honoring its contextual story, and promoting traditional sustainable wisdom within the luxury landscape.

Historic workshops of their kind rarely stray from their traditional path, so when they agreed to work in partnership, in such an unusual manner, Chowa was established.

For our next significant step, we have been collaborating directly with the artisans to co-design a product that transcends being just a box.

I am very excited to share this with all of you in June 2024.

With gratitude.

– Ray Suzuki, Founder and CEO