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©James Harris
©James Harris
©James Harris
©James Harris

Rio Kobayashi

Rio Kobayashi Woodworker
English, German, Japanese
By appointment only
+44 7490431606
©James Harris

Designs with a narrative

  • • Rio started by making wooden blocks for a Dutch manufacturer
  • • He is specialised in traditional handmade joins
  • • He believes that well made pieces are timeless

Working with hands and creating runs in Rio Kobayashi’s family. Encouraged at home, Rio knew from an early age the direction he wished to take. After studies in Austria and working in Germany the logical step was to become an independent designer. The very first time he showed his own works was at the London Design Week in 2017. Rio is a product of two cultures and his works can be interpreted as an exploration of his identity. They convey the complexity of his Asian and European heritage and thus have a narrative. Inspired by cultural experiences, clichés, colour, art, natural elements and animals; he also aims to give people viewing or using his objects a sense of ambiguity. At the same time, form and function play an equal part in his work.

Read the full interview


  • ©James Harris
  • ©James Harris
  • ©James Harris
  • ©James Harris
  • ©James Harris
Photo: ©James Harris
Kaijyu Mask

A wall-mounted mask made from long, vertical slats of partially painted and carved red cedar wood, representing a boar-like monster. The abstract features are symmetrical and angular: two pairs of eyes - holes in white and blue shapes - stare towards the viewer. Tusks and pig-hair bristles flank a long, protruding snout with a blue line and a red tongue hangs loosely from a joint below. The forehead is crowned with two sets of horizontal horns.

Length 20 cm
Width 43 cm
Height 69 cm

Photo: ©James Harris
Robot Shelf

A wall-mounted shelf made from boxes of red cedar wood that open towards the viewer in mostly square angles. The frontal edges are curved and are painted white, like bones tracing the abstract shape of a standing humanoid robot. A stern face sits on a muscular torso. From the side the viewer can make out parts of a female's and male's intimate anatomy. The arms flanking the body end in long, skinny fingers; the legs are closed, toes pointing downwards.

Length 23 cm
Width 51 cm
Height 166 cm

Photo: ©James Harris
Hato Vases 1-3

A set of three vases of staggered heights made from unpainted red cedar wood. Every vase consists of simple, geometric boxes in various shapes that are neatly stacked on top of each other and overhang over smaller bases. The horizontal, angular edges of each vase's compound and dovetail joints are painted with calligraphy ink bleeding into the wood's grain - the tallest and shortest in black; the medium one in vermillion.

Length 37 cm
Width 37 cm
Height 84 cm
Length 30 cm
Width 30 cm
Height 70 cm
Length 27 cm
Width 27 cm
Height 56 cm

Photo: ©James Harris
Mikadokun Chair

A low chair made from light, smooth ash wood. The seat is a large, even board slanting backwards. It rests on four short, protruding legs that are connected with stretchers, all made from turned poles with pointed ends. They are partially painted with bands of primary colours - blue, red, yellow - to resemble the popular game called mikado. The back legs support two longer, slanting poles that hold the back rest made from a smaller, rectangular board.

Length 45 cm
Width 62 cm
Height 70 cm

Photo: ©James Harris
Amy Shelf

A solid oak wood wall shelf, consisting of 3 pairs of horizontal boards with rounded edges, cross-jointed by a vertical middle board painted black, blue and red. The top and bottom pairs of boards branch to the left; the larger, middle pair points to the right, its back board painted white and cream. It ends in a vertical board with a hole in the middle, mirrored by a painted circular detail and a smaller hole off-centre in the middle board.

Length 40 cm
Width 243 cm
Height 143 cm

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