Smartphone speaker amplifiers and mini-tables: new products developed to use karamatsu larch lumber

Smartphone speaker amplifier "Kaon" and mini-table "Pakita" developed by Suzuki with the goal of finding uses for karamatsu larch lumber

“Tokuchi Furniture Kogyo”, a wooden furniture manufacturer based in Eastern Hokkaido’s Kushiro Town, has developed and is selling smartphone speaker amplifiers and dismantlable mini-tables made with locally-sourced karamatsu larch wood. Karamatsu larch was grown for harvesting as mining timber to support mine shafts in coal mines after WWII. Amidst considerations on how to use this larch wood, product development has been advancing from the summer of 2020, backed by young woodworkers involved in efforts to promote the usage of locally-sourced lumber.

The smartphone speaker amplifier “Kaon” is made in the shape of the carpentry tool known as a hand plane. To use, a smartphone is rested on the area resembling the blade portion of the hand plane. The area corresponding to the handle section of the hand plane has been hollowed out to naturally amplify the sound of the music coming out of the smartphone. The device does not need electricity. It comes in two sizes: a 32 cm large (8,800 yen) and a 22 cm small (7,150 yen).

The mini-table “Pakita” was inspired by the outdoor boom sparked by the CORONA-19 pandemic. It is dismantlable to make it easy to carry. The table is assembled by joining two planks together in a cross shape to form the legs, which then support the top table panel. It is 21 cm long, 30 cm wide, and 10 cm tall. The price is 3,850 yen. Both “Kaon” and “Pakita” started selling in September of last year.

In the Kushiro region after WWII, sturdy karamatsu larch trees were planted to fulfill the estimated demand for mining timber to be used in coal mines. However, afterwards, coal mines closed in rapid succession. When the karamatsu larch reached its optimal logging period, the question of how to use it became a problem.

Rising to the occasion, young woodworkers in Kushiro City and Kushiro Town have designed many prototypes for things like toys made from karamatsu larch out of a desire to create items never seen before, and fashioned out of a young sensibility. Suzuki Ryohei (36) at Tokuchi Furniture Kogyo is one of these young woodworkers, and he was involved in the amplifier and table design. He commented, “Karamatsu larch is sensitive to sunlight and tends to change color when exposed, but it develops character the more you use it, which is one thing that is great about it.” Orders for the speaker amplifiers and tables are being accepted by e-mail (ht.tfk@h3.dion.ne.jp) at Tokuchi Furniture Kogyo.

Location

Tokuchi Furniture Kogyo

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