~ Let’s make the furniture we need together ~
Wataru Sogo 十川 渉
Born April 11, 1979 in Kochi Prefecture, Type AB.
A furniture craftsman who creates original furniture, exterior and garden designs for life in Karuizawa, and delivers unconventional products with sincerity to meet the diverse needs of customers.
After 13 years of working for a traditional furniture maker in Karuizawa, he now has his own studio, magocoro, in Karuizawa.
Requests to magocoro spread like branches and leaves, and it has become a valuable place where people can experience full-scale furniture making together, from design to production to completion, under the supervision and guidance of Mr. Sogo.
Magocoro’s creativity, backed up by years of experience, is popular among women and children as well as architects and designers, and the true spirit of Magocoro is beginning to spread throughout Karuizawa.
In the third episode of the relay interview, the baton passed from Mikio Shinohara of Realize to Wataru Sogo of magocoro in Karuizawa Oiwake with the message “Wishing for the development of a reliable young furniture maker”. While the previous episode was about the construction of a villa, this time Mr. Sogo’s episode is about making furniture for people living in Karuizawa, which is a very familiar story. We want to make furniture for our daily life that is both practical and stylish. We asked Mr. Sogo, who has just started his own business, about furniture from various perspectives.
January 19, 2018 ~ Currently being interviewed
Producer: Takeshi Hotta
Go to Mr.Sogo
——It’s nice to meet you, Mr. Sogo. I look forward to working with you today.
Sogo：Yes. I look forward to working with you.
Sogo：Please take your time and relax near the stove.
—— Thank you for your heartwarming concern. It’s a nice stove in a nice workshop.
—— First of all, for those of us who are getting to know you for the first time through your TABLENOTE articles, please give us a brief self-introduction of yourself.
Sogo：Yes, my name is Wataru Sogo.
Born on April 11, 1979 in Kochi Prefecture, Aries, 39 years old. His blood type is AB.
—— How would you describe your current occupation in a few words?
Sogo：I am working as a furniture maker.
But the truth is, I’d like to work more broadly in design, garden exteriors, and other things related to wood in general, without deciding on a profession.
—— Do you imagine that your activities are expanding like the branches and leaves of a tree?
Sogo：Yes, that’s right. I think the world of wood is really wide and deep, and there are many ways to utilize wood, and the work is expanding in a diverse way.
—— What was your relationship with Mr. Shinohara of Realize Corporation, who passed the relay baton to Mr. Sogo this time?
Sogo：Ms. Shinohara is working with us and we originally met her through the introduction of a female staff member working at Asama Stove.
—— Asama Stove, is that the largest wood shop in Shinshu?
Sogo：Yes, I did. I was looking for a good architect to build my own studio. and asked around to find one.
At that time, I heard about Mr. Shinohara from a female staff member of Asama Stove, who said, “There is a very good architect here.
—— What was your first impression of Mr.Shinohara?
Sogo：He gave me the impression that he was kind (laughs)
Hi, there. “How can I help you? Something like that. She was soft and friendly.
But he was as good as he could be about his work, “Let’s just talk about it! .
He listened to what we had to say about the workshop we wanted to build, and as a result, we were able to build a very nice workshop.
— The magocoro workshop is really wonderful. It’s a space where art is born. .
Making the first piece of furniture
— Before you started your own business as “magocoro” in Karuizawa, what was your first motivation to start making furniture? .
Sogo: The first time I started making furniture was a group exhibition I did as a student at Osaka University of Arts, with the artistic concept of “creating a space.
It was a group exhibition I did as a student at Osaka University of Arts, and that was the first time I started making furniture. There were also people who made clothes, played music, made videos, took pictures, and many other people who came together to create a space.
— A space handmade by everyone? .
Sogo: Yes. What I made was furniture, and someone else’s handmade clothes were put in it.
— Did you start to become interested in things like creating space and interior design at that time? .
Sogo: Yes. In the exhibition art at that time, we took a questionnaire of impressions, and… Some of the visitors had harsh opinions, saying “This isn’t furniture, is it”.
— A scolding opinion about furniture? .
Sogo: “This construction is not good enough” and so on.
When I see such questionnaires, I feel like…
I was really frustrated.
— Was it the questionnaire that turned on the seriousness switch? .
Sogo: Yes, I really wanted to make a solid product.
I felt the questionnaire in my hand, both for good and not-so-good opinions.
I think it’s still very important to listen to people’s opinions and impressions honestly.
— From the moment you started making furniture, you had an insight into the essential “needs” of making furniture that people would enjoy. .
The training period and solid wood
— What will you do after graduating from Osaka University of Arts?
Sogo: In order to make furniture, I looked for a vocational school, and a technical and vocational training school in Nagano Prefecture was an immediate candidate, and I decided to study in the woodworking department.
— Was there any particular reason why you chose a vocational school in Nagano Prefecture?
Sogo: The decisive reason was that it was one of the few schools where I could learn how to make furniture using real, solid materials, and not make-believe.
Even now, there are only a few schools in Japan where you can learn to make furniture with solid materials.
— You can learn with solid wood. I see, it’s very authentic. So you were born in Kochi Prefecture until the age of 18, went to Osaka University of Arts for four years of college, and then attended a vocational school in Nagano Prefecture when you were 22. </strong
Sogo: I think my first visit to Karuizawa was when I was in vocational school, and I fell in love with it.
— To be able to learn with solid wood gives me the impression of being authentic. .
Sogo: In the woodworking department, the process of making furniture and technical practice starts with a wooden board with ears, from which square lumber is made.
You decide on the thickness and make a square piece of wood…
It was only a year, but I was able to learn the necessary experience.
— Are there any professional qualifications in the world of woodworking? </strong
Sogo: There is manual processing, and there are two levels: Level 1 and Level 2.
— What have you been doing since you graduated from the woodworking school?
Sogo: We get a lot of information about wood-related jobs at the vocational training school.
I happened to find an application for a job at the Osakaya Furniture Store in Karuizawa, so I applied and was able to find a job.
— At what age did you start working at Osakaya Furniture Store?
Sogo: I was 23 years old. I graduated from a vocational school in one year.
— From then on, how many years did you work at the Osakaya Furniture Store?
Sogo: I worked there for 13 years.
— I hear that a true professional in anything takes 10 years, but 13 years! You must have learned a lot and built up a good foundation over a really long time. </strong
Sogo: Yes, I have worked here for a long time. I have learned a lot.
Signs of independence
— After completing his apprenticeship, he is finally going independent. What were your goals and changes of heart that made you decide to make “magocoro” independent?
Sogo: Well, as a furniture craftsman, my desire to make furniture that can be used by many people has grown stronger like this.
— When you say furniture that can be used by many people, do you mean furniture that is used relatively on a daily basis? .
Sogo: At the time of the Osakaya Furniture Store, the focus was on relatively affluent customers.
It was never furniture that was priced at a level that anyone could afford.
It was a craft-like world and not an everyday product.
— Indeed, counting the digits of the sales price (laughs), I get the impression that it is a super high-end furniture. .
Sogo: Because there are many old traditional crafts and traditional items.
The biggest reason is that my wife and I had a child, and that is the reason for the change in my work.
In my mind, I wanted to make things that children would enjoy and that they could use on a daily basis.
— That’s wonderful.
Sogo: We are a married couple working together.
I’ve been leaving her at daycare and picking her up…
I wish I could see my children while I work from my studio, or I wish I could have my own home studio and work there.
— It’s safe to have a workshop where your children can see you, isn’t it? How old are your children now? .
Sogo: My older sister is 11 years old, and my younger son is 8 years old and in second grade, and he is a boy.
Also, my parents are currently in Kochi Prefecture, but they will eventually move to Karuizawa.
In the future, I will also have to take care of them at home in their old age.
— If you live in Karuizawa, you can rest assured that your parents will be well taken care of in their old age. .
Sogo: Yes. I think they will be fine.
And one of my influences as a furniture maker was an interior designer and design educator named Makoto Shimazaki, who is currently very active in dealing with Scandinavian furniture, and I had a chance to talk with him when he came to Karuizawa.
When he came to Karuizawa, I had a chance to talk with him. “Why don’t you do winter work in winter? I heard this idea.
An elderly man, about 80 years old, and his wisdom, etc., made me think “Oh, there is such a way of thinking and such a way of living. I thought.
I compared it with my own style at the time and was saved.
I started to think differently about putting the customer’s voice first, thinking and creating products together, and making original things that I needed for my home.
— He made it his goal to work with the cycles of nature and meet essential needs.
Sogo: Yes, yes, yes.
In Karuizawa, many stores are closed during the winter, so I thought it would be a good idea to take advantage of the good winter weather to do business.
I changed my mind and thought that as long as I made products that really met people’s needs, it would be fine.
— It’s not about the product first…
Sogo: Yes. Sogo: Yes, it’s not like we elaborate and make “Yes, we’ve made 300,000 pieces of furniture, please buy it! Rather, we want to make things that are really needed by the customer, at an affordable price, and can be provided as needed.
Let’s make what we need together. This is how the magocoro workshop is now starting to function.
It’s really fun to be able to do this kind of thing in Karuizawa, and I think it makes me really happy to make people happy.
Activities of magocoro workshop
— I understand that magocoro Kobo has many customers in the Karuizawa area.
Sogo: Yes. We receive referrals and requests from customers who have ordered houses from Realize in Karuizawa.
“Can you make something like this? and they ask me “Well, I’ll do it. .
I’m really grateful to Realize for giving me a lot of valuable experiences.
— I guess various experiences lead to various ideas, which in turn lead to various works of art. .
Sogo: That’s right! That’s why I’m still willing to do whatever I can to help the Karuizawa area.
— As the range of products expands, the target audience also expands, doesn’t it?
Sogo: Yes. I’ve never done anything like using my own workshop to make products and then going to deliver them to customers when I was working for a company, so it’s really refreshing in many ways.
Making different materials into one piece
— Is there any new field that you would like to try in the future? .
Mr. Sogo: I’m fascinated by things that use different materials together, and I’d like to challenge myself.
For example, I can easily imagine a tabletop made of wood with iron legs underneath.
For example, I can easily imagine a wooden tabletop with steel feet, because if you leave your gardening table outside and it has wooden feet, it will rot from contact with the soil.
I think it would be interesting to make something that is resistant to rain and can be cleaned quickly with a Kärcher or something. I think it would be interesting to make something like that.
— If I write in this article that I can also repair and remodel furniture, people might actually order it! (laughs).
Sogo: Hahaha. That’s right! I do actually take furniture fabrication and repair.
Sogo: For example, repairing a Y-chair with a loose hozo. I want you to clean the top of the table. You may want to change the angle of the back of a wooden sofa. There are many different needs in real life.
There are also requests for beautiful remakes of items that parents have been using carefully and want to give to their children.
In terms of repair and processing, we accept a wide range of requests.
— Is there a type of wood that you particularly like as a material? .
Sogo: My favorite thing is solid wood, and my favorite material in particular is Macaiba.
— Macaques. Where does it grow wild?
Sogo: Hokkaido and Tohoku are the most common places. It’s used in places like Hokkaido Mingei Furniture.
— Of Ainu descent?
Sogo: No, not that kind of wood carving, but furniture.
— Why do you like the Macaques?
Sogo: Yes. The wood grain is beautiful. Can you see this diagonal glare? I think people in Kansai, Aichi and Nagoya might like the glare.
Another type of tiger-like wood is called tora-fumoku. It looks like the stripes of a tiger. It’s made of Nara wood.
It is natural and looks like this. Even if you just paint it with oil… the pattern will come out again.
— Is there any furniture or other material that Macauba goes well with?
Sogo: The mouth panel of a chest of drawers, tables, and chairs.
Macauba is also a solid material. Softwoods are not really suitable for making furniture, but if you hold a hardwood kava, the weight is totally different.
The Dark Side
— May I continue with a question on the dark side? (laughs)
Sogo: Ah, yes. (Laughs)
— Including your training period, what has been the most difficult or painful thing you’ve had to do? .
Sogo: Shinohara-san, that time when you couldn’t do anything and things didn’t go well? (laughs)
— Oh! You actually read the previous episode properly! (laughs) .
Sogo: I read it! Of course.
Sogo: Of course. I felt the same way as Shinohara-san.
I don’t know if it’s okay to say this, but… (laughs) (laughs)
— I’d like to hear a wide range of stories, from sincerity to complaints (laughs).
Sogo: It’s not a complaint at all (laughs).
(laughs) However, even if we deliver the reworked one again, the probability of further rework will increase.
(laughs) However, even if we deliver the reworked product again, the probability of further rework increases. Because we specialize in one part, the customer’s re-check becomes more and more strict.
— I see. .
Sogo: Then, even if the standard is normally good enough, unexpectedly the customer might say “Isn’t the color a little lighter than the last time you brought it? or even if we talk about it, they get swamped.
The wood itself absorbs color differently and so on, and it is impossible to make exactly the same thing from natural materials.
— No two things in nature are the same, so what happened to that in the end?
Sogo: What happened in the end? It was safely rebuilt and delivered.
Yes. I’m a professional, so I have the guts to make it fit.
However, I had to change the person who was going to deliver the product (laughs).
— Changing the delivery person seems like it would be OK (laughs).
Sogo: I think there was also a case where it was accepted (laughs).
— I heard a lot of know-how. (laughs) — I heard a lot of know-how.
Precision work where no mistakes are allowed
— Are there any tasks in your work process that are so difficult that you can’t afford any mistakes? .
Sogo: To be honest, painting is the most difficult. And it takes a lot of nerves.
Because once you make a mistake in painting, you have to rebuild it or start from the point of removing the paint that you have already applied.
The temperature and humidity at that time also affect the result of the painting, so if you apply the paint too easily even once, the result will be different. The paint will stretch differently depending on the temperature.
— In Karuizawa, where the temperature changes rapidly, this is a very nerve-wracking and sensitive work.
Sogo: Yes. It’s nerve-wracking, so maybe I’ll do it in the afternoon? Or, should I not do it first thing in the morning? I also use environmental considerations. I also use environmental considerations.
— So a beautiful finished work is born after you put your heart and soul into it, using your fine nerves?
Sogo: That’s right. It’s hard to do this when you’re working at a company, isn’t it?
— Ah…. That’s true. It’s like the delivery schedule comes first. .
Sogo: “Hey, today in the morning…
Sogo: </p I’d be talking about it.
— Is there anything else, besides painting, that you’d like to share? It’s difficult to say.
Sogo: Wood has its own quirks, so we finish it with a plane, but I think it’s called stopping the reverse grain.
It’s no good if it’s peeling back.
— Are there any other processes such as painting, reverse peeling, or any other process where mistakes are absolutely not allowed?
Sogo: When there is no way to rework the wood.
For example, if you are making furniture from a single wood cutting board, if you don’t have the same material, you won’t have enough material for the parts. Mistakes in calculation are absolutely unacceptable.
— Complete the project with limited materials.
Sogo: Yes. Other repair requests brought in by customers are also not allowed to be miscalculated because there are no alternative materials.
Habit and self-control
— What are some of the habits you usually keep in mind and manage yourself to maximize your work performance? .
Sogo: Yes. I always enter the workshop at 8:00 every morning.
Then I clean. While cleaning, I think about the arrangements for the day.
It’s not like I start at a random time.
It’s not a preparatory exercise, but I don’t just start working in the workshop without warming up.
— If you skip cleaning and just start working, will you make mistakes? .
Sogo: Yes. I’m still working on improving the way I use my time.
— I hear that you are planning to hold workshops in the future. With such a wonderful workshop, I’m sure you’ll get a lot of applicants for apprentices.
Sogo: I haven’t taken any apprentices, but I would like to consider people who are learning the basics as colleagues with whom I can work.
Episodes of nature
— Actually, we have asked all the people who have been featured in our relay interview so far to tell us about their episodes by multiplying “natural elements x Karuizawa”. Please let us know what you think. For example, could you tell us something about the elements of wood, fire, earth, metal and water? .
Sogo: There are many Asama stones in the soil of Karuizawa. The soil in Karuizawa has a lot of asama stones, stones that flew in from the eruption of Mt.
There was nothing growing in Karuizawa, right? Karuizawa. Have you ever seen an old photo?
— No, I haven’t seen any pictures, but it sounds like something that might appear on the Karuizawa test. .
Sogo: In the past, there were no trees in Karuizawa at all, and most of them were planted. The Tsuchiya Photo Studio on the old road is full of photos of this history.
— Tsuchiya Photo Studio. It has “soil” in its name, doesn’t it? .
Sogo: There are many Tsuchiya shops in Karuizawa, aren’t there?
— Eh? Is that so!
Sogo: Also, “soil”. I’m preparing a field next to the studio. I’m preparing the field for next year by mixing wood chips and fallen leaves with the soil.
— It’s nice to see the field from your workshop. What do you use for seeds?
Sogo: Corn is very tasty in Karuizawa. So next year I think I will do corn.
I used to rent a place called the town vegetable garden in Karuizawa and did it for four seasons.
The corn was really delicious then.
The golden episode
Sogo: In my profession, the episode as a metal is a blade.
I really use a lot of knives in the production process, and metal as a tool.
However, I also try to leave as little metal as possible when the product is made. There are still hinges and nails in the product, though.
But even in the old days, when there was no metal, there was furniture, and it was made of wood and fastened with hinges.
I guess it’s a matter of values, but the bottom line is that wood and iron would lose out. I have an image that metal is destroying wood.
Even with metal, I think that gold leaf and other decorative metals are beautiful expressions. However, I try not to rely on metal as much as possible in the structure of my products.
There are things that can be done with wood alone.
In terms of value, I have always felt that there are still things that can be done with wood alone. I have always felt that there are more things that can be done with wood alone.
Sogo: Wood absorbs water and expands.
For example, if you soak a piece of gauze with water and put it on a dented area of wood furniture that has been damaged, the wood will swell and the dents will return.
As wood grows, it expands through water, right?
This is a hole for water to pass through the wood. Can you see it?
Annual rings can be measured because only one annual ring is produced per year. In this piece of wood, eight years are packed into one centimeter, so a 70cm log is 280 years old.
Also, water is moisture, and if you have 90 cm, it will grow by 3 mm, so water and moisture is an important factor in design.
Natural life in Karuizawa
— Mr. Sogo was born in Kochi Prefecture and has now moved to Karuizawa. Do you have any message for people who are considering moving to Karuizawa?
Sogo: It’s different for people from the villa tribe, but if you’re serious about living in nature, you’re probably thinking deeply about Karuizawa.
There are lots of people in Karuizawa in the summer, and the trees are nice and green. After all, you might want to come and see how cold it is in winter, and Karuizawa in winter once.
It is only for those who have moved to Karuizawa to live, but for those who actually live in Karuizawa, it would be better to go there in winter as well.
Introduction of the next guest
— Last but not least, in your opinion, could you please introduce one interesting person for the relay interview, such as people who support Karuizawa life or people who enjoy living in Karuizawa? .
Sogo: Yes, I would like to introduce a picture book author.
— May I ask your name? .
Sogo: You’re accototo, aren’t you?
–Are you a woman?
Sogo: They’re a married couple.
They are quite a nice couple.
— What kind of connection do you have? .
Sogo: It’s a child connection. Her daughter is in the same grade as my oldest daughter. We’ve been friends since nursery school, so we’ve known each other for a long time.
– Are you a person who is active in Karuizawa? .
Sogo: Yes, I am. In Karuizawa.
— There is a picture book called “Uro ni iru dare wa? — In Karuizawa. .
Sogo: Yes. Sogo: Yes, and the Popo-kun series.
— Can I ask you to call me now? .
Sogo: Yes, of course. Of course, I’d be happy to (laughs).
Well then, in closing, thank you very much for this interview, and we at TABLENOTE will continue to follow your activities. Thank you!
Thank you very much! Thank you!
Sogo: Yes. Thank you very much too. Feel free to see me again!
Relay Interview. To Episode 5
With the introduction of Mr. Wataru Sogo, the baton of the relay interview was passed on to Mr. Akkototo, a picture book artist from Karuizawa, and the story continues to spin.
What will be the next episode’s outlook from the main subject of furniture production?
Please look forward to the next episode.
It has been about a year since I met Mr. Wataru Sogou through a relay.
I took the liberty of thinking about Sogou Wataru once again.
On the one hand, he is always smiling like a boy, but he is also very careful and sensitive, and he seems to be able to anticipate the air. On the other hand, he has the strength to shape large pieces of wood boldly, and his core is thick, which gives us a glimpse of his mature courage. ……
He is a man who surprises and fascinates people in a good way, who is obsessed with creating works of art, and who keeps an extremely strong foundation of adhering to the strict management rules of his workshop.
Every time I talk to him, I feel his wealth of knowledge and experience in craftsmanship, and he understands the needs of his customers and carefully proposes and explains plans of applicability. He will work with you to come up with a plan that will satisfy your needs. In addition, Mr. Sogo’s unique perspective on wood increases the depth of the furniture as well as the richness of life, and transforms the ideal of a safe and comfortable life in Karuizawa into a vision of a rich future.
Every day, from early in the morning, he is surrounded by heavy machinery, cutlery, and huge furniture in his workshop, and while he may be making something, he also has a deep knowledge of surprisingly cute accessories.
Whenever a newcomer to Karuizawa makes a request for a piece of furniture, Mr. Sogo is always ready to listen with a smile and a sense of warmth.
Mr. Sogo’s original products are sure to be the envy of everyone.
It may be an exaggeration, but I can’t help but feel that magocoro studio will become an important key to the bright future of Karuizawa, and to open up a life of healing and peace of mind.
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