The design thinking behind Katō was always to showcase the woodworking and engineering expertise that defines Lyndon. Beautiful show-wood furniture has long been our strong suit but this time we wanted to produce a statement piece, so we began sketching ideas for a timber armchair with an exo-frame supporting an upholstered seat and back. This would enable us to put as much wood on display as possible.
Everything about timber excites us. We love its look, feel and even its smell, from when it’s delivered to our factory as rough sawn planks, to its departure in the form of finely crafted furniture. Wood is nature’s ideal building material – renewable, durable and soothing on the eye. With the right skills, it can be worked into many shapes and forms.
Though wood can look hard and unforgiving when it’s cut with straight edges and assembled with right-angle joins, we decided to give our new chair a gentle, organic aesthetic. Every piece of wood has a unique character and this was something we were able to celebrate through Katō’s timber exoskeleton, with the natural grain on show and rounded structural features including exposed joinery.
Wrapping around the sides and back of the chair in a horseshoe shape, the arm rail caps off the design and turns Katō into the statement piece we wanted. This element of the exoskeleton proved to be an exciting challenge as we searched for a form that would invite the sitter in and give the design a unique and memorable quality.
The solution was to increase the proportions of the arm and create a broad, elliptical rail. We widened it to 80mm and gave it slimmer edges, while retaining its roundedness through a soft, domed top surface. The aerofoil-inspired cross-sectional shape of Katō’s arms elegantly suits the organic feel of the structure beneath, while making a clear visual statement. It has an architectural feel to it – like a light, expansive platform supported by the sturdy cylindrical leg posts.
The gently curved surface of the armrest was an instant hit when we trialled Katō with prospective customers. It performs its function perfectly when the sitter alights in or rises from the chair. While seated their fingertips are naturally drawn to the wood grain texture, which turns Katō into a wonderful sensory experience.
Subtle and minimal, the upholstered seat and back continue the timeless simplicity built up in the woodwork. This allows the timber to stand to the fore and make a visual and tactile impact, while small, considered details in the design of the cushioning speak of comfort.
The crisp look of the back is softened with a horizontal pull stitch that gathers the fabric for a plush effect. Perfectly parallel with the back rail, this seam guides the eye along the line across the back while breaking up the uniformity of the cushion and creating a transition between the arms on either side. Meanwhile, the rear corners of the back rest at the apexes of the finger joints, seamlessly connecting the arms to the back rail – another satisfying touch for anyone with an eye for detail.
With comfort, softness and serenity becoming increasingly important in commercial settings, Katō gives architects and designers the opportunity to make a statement with timber furniture within their schemes. While it looks hand sculpted, our investment in technology means we can manufacture it at scale and the design suits a wide range of fabrics and finishes.
We can see Katō declaring itself in a contemporary fabric within an oak frame, with the grain showing through for the desired effect. Equally, we know that Katō will have luxury appeal when upholstered in supple leather with a walnut frame. It’s a design that will perfectly suit informal meeting spaces, waiting areas and travel lounges, hospitality settings and we would like to think that people will want it in their homes as well.
Simple shapes, high-quality materials and a crafted finish give Katō its aura of refined comfort – an elegant statement of timeless simplicity and comfort.
Lyndon, October 2023