Montreal-based Mitz Takahashi has the rare combination of consummate humility and supreme talent. His sleek wood pieces are charming, highly-designed and, best of all, often recycled. “Wood is timeles,” says the Osaka native. “Depending on the design, wood can be sleek and sophisticated, or it can look earthy and rustic.”
When did you realize you wanted to design furniture? I always enjoyed making things. I have a degree in fine arts, so designing furniture is an extension of wanting to create things that are functional as well as aesthetically pleasing.
What do you like most about what you do? I enjoy meeting other really inspiring creative people. It’s also very rewarding to transform a vague idea in my head into a real, tangible item. It’s like imagining a great ice cream flavour, like eggnog frozen yogurt, and being able to make it a reality.
How would you describe your style? I am influenced by simplicity of mid-century modern designers such as Finn Juhl, Poul Henningsen, Dieter Rams. I’m fond of Japanese aesthetics in general. I currently use mostly recycled wood, but I’m still exploring my style. I’m interested in working with other materials such as concrete, silicon, fabric etc. This is a tough question for me since I still feel like a teenager trying to find myself.
What inspires you? My family and friends are my biggest inspirations. I just want to make them proud. All I want to do is show how great my parents are by working hard and designing great pieces. I also enjoy cooking, music, architecture, graphic design and writing stories. Sometimes I need to relax away from design. Ideas come to me when I least expect it, like when I’m waiting in the line at the grocery store or playing with my cat.
What is it about wood that you like so much? Depending on the design, wood can be sleek and sophisticated, or it can look earthy and rustic. Wood is timeless; if you sand down 100-year-old wood and give it a couple of new coats of oil, it will look brand new. Because of its ability to last generations, wood tends to hold a lot of history and memories. I went to Japan last October for my father’s funeral and saw a chair from childhood. I remembered jumping off this chair when I was a boy. I remembered how I sat in that particular chair almost 17 years ago and thought about coming to Canada for school. I want my furniture to be like that chair: have a timeless quality and become part of people’s lives.
What advice would you give to aspiring furniture designers? I still need advice myself! But I would say work hard and keep trying until you are happy with your designs. I would also pass on the best advice I learned from my parents: always be polite and respectful of others, and help people when they are in need.
For more information about Mitz Takahashi, visit www.mitztakahashi.com