To-Go Coffee Cups Made of Turned Wood

There is a subset of Japanese artisans who pursue an almost absurd level of perfection. To those familiar with their materials and processes, the objects can inspire awe; to the layperson, it may seem that the attention paid to their manufacture needlessly surpasses the humility of the object.

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Shirasagi Mokkou, a third-generation family-run firm, skirts that line. The company makes wooden objects with rotational symmetry: Bowls and trays, which are not that rare, and startlingly refined wooden cups that are.

These cups are not veneer that has been pressed into a form; they made from solid wood pieces that have been turned on a lathe.

The company controls every aspect of the production process, including harvesting and carefully drying the wood over a period of months.

Shirasagi Mokkou was contacted by Artisanal, a new housewares brand launched by video documentary firm Tokyovision, to produce a highly unusual object: A wooden to-go coffee cup, complete with a turned wooden lid.

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The lid adds a level of complexity to the manufacturing, as wooden vessels react subtly to heat. If the lip goes out-of-round, you might not notice visually, but you would if the lid no longer mated properly.

Artisanal says they have gotten around this with Shirasagi’s manufacturing prowess:

“The To-Go Cup shape is actually quite complex when it comes to woodworking, and to make it would require the wood to be worked down to millimetre precision, as well as wood’s natural properties, such as expanding when it gets hot, would need to be overcome. It took around a year of testing and trialling, but through their expertise and advanced technology they were able to make a prototype. It is only thanks to their world-class woodworking skills and processing techniques that they were able to make this cup.”

Additionally, a silicon ring inside the lid probably takes up some of the slack.

The cups are made of Zelkova (Keyaki in Japanese), a wood used in Japan for both bonsai trees and furnituremaking. Artisanal says water resistance is conferred by adding a urethane coating to the cups; I assume they mean polyurethane.

The Keyaki To-Go Coffee Cup has been successfully Kickstarted by Artisanal. At press time there was 39 days left to pledge. The cups run ¥9,600 (USD $62) and are expected to ship next March.

Source: core77

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