In Review

Toku by Schiavello – In review


10 Apr , 2018   Video

Toku seems to have a split personality… one engrossed in Japanese traditions and culture, and the other looking to embrace the ways of the West!

We’re definitely feeling the Toku range’s contemporary vibes! With an Ottoman and Bench, Table and Screen the Toku is suited to a newer, more futuristic worker and can be useful in transitional spaces; the range gives a sense of catalysing mobility and collaborative discussion.

Take a look at what Vera Dieckmann, Head of Design & Architecture at Albal Design Studio, and Christian Merieau, Founding Partner at MMAC Design Associates, had to say about Schiavello‘s Toku range.

First impressions count. Was there something exciting, inspiring, practical, unique or even weird about Toku that caught your eye?

Vera: As a designer, I feel Toku’s form clearly outlines functionality and the design is clean and reduced. When I encountered it for the first time, it reminded me of Scandinavian and Asian design lines.

Christian:  I really liked the ease with which you could reconfigure the Toku range and how well it worked free-standing in the middle of a room or even against a wall.

Seeing the range in person, it becomes evident that Toku’s simple lines combined with high-quality materials make for a very pleasing collection that could find its place in an office, as well as in a villa. The usage of slightly rough solid oak is particularly interesting.

Practical in its modularity, its components allow for many combinations. It can be paired with quirky finishes too; the sheepskin option on the backrest can add a lot to make the space pop. At the same time, the entire line has an almost domestic feel which could be useful for informal breakout and discussion spaces; perfect, seeing that “Toku” is Japanese for “talk”.

Our favorite product is undoubtedly the 4-seater bench with the backrest. It’s highly customizable, and the visual appeal of the wood backrest coupled with the almost-tailored fabric cover is immense. The whole range works well together; and while each piece is unique, the pairings make for a great product line. And let’s not forget the sheep wool backrest with the metallic side-table, along with its traditional Japanese look; it’s truly unique!

What’s your favourite Toku product, and why?

Vera: I simply adore the small tables, specifically because of the bright colours; because they’re considered multi-purpose, they can be added as an “accent” in a residential project.

Christian: The double-sided ottoman combined with the screen and the laptop table are very interesting together and offers multiple configuration options.

You can see that the lines are soft – showing off a clean, minimalist and modern design that is well-executed. The forms are visually proportionate and the blend of wood and solid fabric creates a natural harmony of sorts. The fact that it’s a modular design that can be configured to tailor-fit the function of the space makes it super appealing.

Comfort is key when it comes to furniture design. We’re very happy to report that the Toku range does not disappoint. We liked that the high table and bench/ottoman pairing make a perfect laptop discussion environment. Think of it as a space to perch; considering that the design intent was not to nest here for too long.

Visually speaking, does the Toku range appeal to you?

Vera: The design is very clean, modern and young. The product attracts younger target groups and is very flexible. Based on the optional use of the Kvadrat fabric collection, it’s possible to change the look and feel of the range. Quite useful.

Christian: Incorporating texture is always a good idea, regardless of the industry you’re designing for; and the Toku range does a really good job at incorporating this element.

There are lots of elements to love about the Toku range. The products are sturdy but can be moved about easily. We especially liked the pairing of wood and fabric/leather. Another interesting element is the color option – despite being MDF, they can still be powder-coated, allowing for a variety of colors; that and the baseball bat legs too! There’s also the option of adding electronics to either the backrests or the base units. We’re stoked that the product can be customized to have a 3/6 seater bench or even other nuances like contrast stitching.

On the other hand, adding more technology-related options would greatly improve the functionality of the range. A media version could be interesting, paired with perhaps a high standing table screen. We’re tech junkies and need solutions that would, for example, help recharge our phones.

From our perspective, the Toku range has been designed successfully with a purpose in mind. Toku’s simplicity could be a double-edged sword though. It will constantly face competition with the local contractors wanting to build the product at a lower price.

So let’s break it down. Talk us through what works and what doesn’t.

Vera: Overall, I love that fact that the Toku range is practical and modern. It would work really well in office spaces and contemporary, forward-facing hospitality projects. Its design is in line with the concept developed by Schiavello and I think they have a clear vision in mind. Toku’s price and quality levels are fair and competitive in the current market. I would place the Toku range in a corporate environment as it is definitely driven by a clean, clear and more graphic design language when compared to what’s normally considered comfortable lounge furniture.

On the flipside, it might be useful to develop a single-seater and incorporate some flexibility into the range. Making it movable with wheels would work beautifully.

Christian: The Toku range is very functional, well-designed with its own personality, and finds a place in many modern interiors. It’s well-executed in terms of its ergonomic design. The backrests were placed at the perfect height, the table not too low, and in general, the range is very well-proportioned.

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