Hornbach's new DIY project is a gorgeous object of Japanese design

German home improvement retailer collaborates with designer Yo Shimada on a space-saving table

Published On
Feb 19, 2019

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Hornbach, the German home improvement retailer known for its quirky advertising, is back with a new idea from its Werkstuck campaign, in which it teams up with designers to create items that customers can construct for themselves using its range of materials.(The first item, a lounge chair, was announced last year).

Its latest campaign via agency Heimat Berlin centers on the Utsuri table, an idea created by Japanese designer Yo Shimada. Inspired both by a need for space-saving in Japanese apartments and by the (very Japanese) idea of fallen leaves on water, it's a modular table set that features neon color on the underside of the tables that reflects upwards onto the white table tops. (The name "Utsuri" comes from this special key design element, meaning, roughly, "reflective.")

“For me as a Japanese designer, the challenge was to offer something new to Europeans – something that they might not expect,” says Yo Shimada, who is the founder and lead designer of Tato Architects in Kōbe, Japan. “I asked myself, how can I use materials readily available at a DIY store, to contribute something Japanese to European DIY culture?”

Customers can construct the design themselves using an assembly book which contains illustrated, step-by-step instructions on how to build the table, as well as lists of materials and tools. There's also a website to accompany the campaign and a film, seen here, about Shimada and his design process. 

Once again, it's not an easy flat-pack build: Thomas Schnaitmann, head of marketing and marketing communication at Hornbach Germany adds that the table "is not without its DIY challenges: if you’re expecting a construction kit you can knock together quickly, this is not for you. It takes time to build the Utsuri Table and it requires precision work. But we totally trust our customers to do it.”