Mother Tool is a workshop and design studio located in Tochigi, Japan. Owned by husband and wife Shunya Murohashi and Miho Nakamura, here in their workshop they work on various projects and assemble unique kinetic sculptures under their brand name Tempo.
Their goal is to search for new form through kinetic sculpture and link various workshops in Japan with modern designs so that we can re-use old technologies for our modern day and time.
Photography: KIYOKO ETO
We first came across the work of Mother Tool in 2013 through their stunning project titled ‘Tempo’. As beautiful as they are, at the time we naive to think that they were just a selection of handcrafted kinetic sculptures made in collaboration with various designers across the world. Boy were we wrong! There’s much more behind this company and project.
Tempo began thanks to a conversation between furniture designer Kazuteru Murasawa and co-founder of Mother Tool Miho Nakamura when working together to release a piece of stationary made from aluminium and wood. After collaborating with various factories to produce the stationary Miho realised how under-utilised Japanese workshops and factories were. If more people could produce well-designed objects and re-use old techniques and technology it would be a good way of extending the life of these businesses moving forward. A stroke of genius.
Miho’s first kinetic sculpture was made in collaboration with Drill Design in Tokyo. Five designers participated to create 9 designs from materials such as wood and metal. There are a total of 10 workshops and factories now involved in the manufacturing and finishing of each element for the different sculptures and mobiles. Each workshop has a specific skill set, some bending the metal, some painting the surfaces or counterbalance weights. There’s certainly more than meets the eye when it comes to crafting such exquisite mobiles.
Since then Miho has become the connecting point herself between all these different workshops and makers in Japan. This project requires constant back and forth, using the craftsman’s know how to manufacture sculptures of the highest quality and also inform future mobile designs for the general public to enjoy and use for a lifetime. Miho often finds new methods that best utilise the machinery and handiwork available by talking one on one with each craftsman.
Once the components are manufactured they are delivered to the Mother Tool workshop and the baton is then passed on to Miho’s husband Shunya Murohashi. Each part is collected and assembled by his him and his talented team of makers. Delicate parts are constructed with very fine tweezers, the final stage requires a dedicated assembly device to make sure each piece is lined up accurately and will hang poetically in any space.
Mother Tool’s commitment to good design, utilising old technology and traditional skills, also nurturing the people and businesses around them, is definitely something we all need to support. Such projects are only going to become more important as craftsmen need to find new ways to innovate and showcase how crafts play a part in to our modern world. We are proud to release a full selection of their kinetic sculpture in our shop.