All About Japan

Tatami Mats: Not Just for the Floor Anymore

Design Furniture

Tatami, a traditional Japanese flooring material made from tightly woven igusa (soft rush straw), dates all the way back to the Nara Period (710-794) and has always been reserved for flooring. But now, a Japanese company is trying to broaden the possibilities of tatami by creating a line of furniture upholstered in tatami.

Major architectural planning and materials company Daiken teamed up with French interior designer José Lévy to create “Moving Tatamis.” The line of furniture, which includes a bench, mini table as well as storage units, incorporates the company’s proprietary suki washi tatami, a form of machine-produced tatami that utilizes washi paper instead of the traditional straw.

Tatami furniture may seem radical in Japan, which is perhaps why the company decided to release it first in Europe at the prestigious Maison & Objet show in Paris. And José Lévy turned out to be a perfect fit for reimagining the traditional Japanese elements. Anatole, the designer’s grandfather, founded a company in Japan called Judogi in the 60s and specialized in making martial arts equipment.

Daiken has not yet decided whether or not to produce the pieces at scale and are reviewing feedback and audience reception from the furniture fair. But, if you're fascinated by this innovative combination of tradition and modern technology, head over to Spoon & Tamago for more images and info on the amazing artist behind these works.

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