There are few cultures that lend so much importance to everyday living as the Japanese. Unlike many countries in the west, in which design serves as a means of ostentation, in Japan it is used to lift the mundane and quality of life through minor details that make all the difference. Whether the interior of a restaurant, a teapot or a sofa, the Japanese pay special attention to detail and to simplicity; they are obsessed with perfection, with knowhow, using traditions long imbued in their society. This was the environment in which Ritzwell was created in 1992.
Founded in the city of Fukuoka, known for its relaxed lifestyle, close links to nature, rich gastronomic culture and international mentality, Ritzwell has embraced this outward-facing mindset and in recent years has been presenting its collections to the world at the Salone Internazionale del Mobile, in Milan. Acclaimed in Japan by architects and interior designers for its elegant product range, Ritzwell exemplarily combines western and eastern styles. Supported by the expertise of its craftsmen, by advance industrial technology and high production standards, for which the Japanese are renowned, the Fukuoka-based brand sublimely intersects assorted influences, to produce a collection that is Japanese at heart, but with European traits. Under the creative direction of Shinsaku Miyamoto, who also designs many pieces, and the art direction of Roberto Di Stefano, Ritzwell has developed a very particular style; a blend of modernist inspirations, high-quality materials and timeless design.
Appearing in some of the leading residential and commercial projects in Japan, its creations are the perfect antithesis of mass-produced products. Improving with age, these are pieces that we learn to love even more as time goes by. Unlike other high-end brands, Ritzwell had developed pieces to be enjoyed and used continually, while avoiding producing objects as a mere exercise in looks or luxury.
“We don’t follow fashion, we design according to our own philosophy, but we perceive and think in the present, about what fits with our times. For us the business isn’t our focus; we want to create quality products,” Shinsaku Miyamoto explains.
This firm approach, based on simplicity and on excellence, makes Ritzwell a truly special brand and this can be seen throughout the collection, through its pieces refined down to the essential. Miyamoto continues, revealing that: “it’s not just simplicity that matters; we want to create through our Japanese philosophy. Machines are unable to express the deepest human thought. Ritzwell’s creations have been developed through the observation of the gentle flow of time. We combine the finest materials with delicate craftsmanship to construct an essence of cosiness, and unlike mass-produced objects, our furniture merges perfectly into everyday living.”
Designed by the creative director, the ‘Claude’ armchair perfectly sums up the brand’s unique concept. Despite, at first glance, resembling classic Nordic designs of the mid 20th century, this piece reveals a strong personality and distinctly Japanese lines, beginning with the elegant arms formed from solid oiled walnut. Inspired by antique sculptures of Buddha, ‘Claude’ expresses tranquillity, combining antique elements to create something surprisingly new. Another piece to catch the eye is the ‘Marcel’ chair, with its flowing, organic shape and its intelligent use of technology, forming an unforgettable piece, ideal for passing down through the generations.
The sofas created by Miyamoto don’t go unnoticed either. The comfortable ‘Light Field’ reveals a Japanese reinterpretation of the typical Italian sofa – known for their low, deep seating – through attractive backs in leather and elegant metal feet. For its part, the ‘Diana’ sees walnut once again joined by leather, to produce a timeless piece, rich in details that reveal the mastery of Ritzwell’s craftsmen. Designed by Atelier D.Q., the ‘Rivage’ range revisits modernist shapes in the form of an armchair, chair and stool. Extremely light, these elegant pieces produce a delicate balance between quietude and tension due to the organic shape, establishing themselves as veritable masterpieces of discreet luxury. No less spectacular is the ‘Ibiza Forte’ low table by Jun Kamahara. With a tabletop that brings to mind the roofs of traditional Japanese temples, the table takes simplicity to the extreme through its bevel-edged top and steel base painted black.
Giving particular emphasis to natural materials, Ritzwell incorporates age-old traditions in a vision of contemporary design. “The Japanese have long believed that the ‘eight million gods’ are present in everything and this belief has shaped the way in which we approach nature and natural phenomena, and how we coexist with them. The philosophy of coexistence with nature, a lifestyle with natural elements and with no distinction between ‘interior’ and ‘exterior’ is clear to see in traditional Japanese houses,” reveals Miyamoto, adding that, “the Japanese have developed an aesthetic code that appreciates subtlety and depth, enjoying the splendid interaction between light and shade caused by the changing seasons, the sounds of the wind and the humming of insects.”
The serene way of viewing life in general is clear to see in the collection developed by Ritzwell, which bases its design process on “seeking new creative dimensions, without being excessive. Our furniture is based on the beauty and peace resulting from coexistence and harmony, reflecting the beauty of the Japanese aesthetic. Our desire is to continue to create furniture which fills our heart, which makes an environment cosy, which makes us happy”.
Originally published in Essential Lisboa magazine.