The REI chair is a testament to the incredible build, surface and finish quality that can be achieved by using Bcomp’s ampliTex™ technical fabrics. Learn about how Tras Ltd., a Japanese composite company with a background in motorsport, has made its signature high-end designer chair far more sustainable.
A World-Class Composite Craftsman
From endurance motorcycle racing to luxury designer furniture, design and manufacturing studio Tras is a Japanese leader in composites. It is the latest organization to fly the flag of the Japanese composites industry – a craft that has been central to the culture for more than a millennium.
Specialising in the design and production of carbon composites and other advanced composite materials (ACM), Tras began when its founder, Masanao Nitta, started to design bespoke carbon bodywork for race cars and motorcycles in 1988.
In 2002, when established teams hesitated at his offer to provide bodywork, he decided to take action himself and started his own team to design and produce aerodynamic bodywork for the Suzuka 8 Hours, leading to a class victory with a BMW Motorrad in 2006. This eventually led to Tras being a partner for Suzuki’s Moto GP team from 2009, leveraging the deal through branding and exposure and further work within motorsport as Team Partner for the Toyota Motorsport GmbH’s VLN bid with the LEXUS IS F CCS-R.
Paying Homage to an Ancient Composite Tradition
It was 2009 and Masanao Nitta had a strong desire to develop unique furniture that showcased his incredible carbon composite craftsmanship in an interesting way. Project REI was a collaboration between Tras and renowned Japanese designer Keita Shimizu. The team drew from Japan’s rich history of composite work, citing and paying homage to the 1,300-year-old Ashura statue. Made entirely from composites – flax fibres and urushi lacquer (a natural resin) – the statue depicts a god, stands around 1.5 metres tall and is considered to be a national treasure.
When Masanao Nitta used carbon fibre composites in the first REI chair design, he went through countless steps of lacquering and surface polishing. Applying this ancient technique to today’s state-of-the-art composite materials, allowed Tras to achieve a unique tint that reflects the deep golden-brown of natural urushi lacquer. With the statue a well-known cultural icon of Japan, the chair paying homage to it quickly garnered attention. It was even exhibited internationally, including in Switzerland during Art Basel at the VOLTA fair.
Showcasing Visual Perfection with ampliTex™
Drawing significant international attention to Japan’s rich history of composites and the expert application of carbon composites in furniture design and production, Masanao Nitta learned about the latest sustainable high-performance natural fibre composites. It was not long before he was in discussions with the Bcomp team about using ampliTex™ to produce a new version of the REI chair that closely mirrored the Ashura statue’s original flax fibre and urushi lacquer construction.
The new, natural fibre REI highlights the level of quality and craftsmanship that is possible with industry-leading flax fibre composite reinforcements. The unique aesthetic of ampliTex™ was perfectly suited to this high-end design application with the flax weave entirely visible across the ‘bowl’ shaped structure of the chair. With visual perfection and quality paramount to ensuring the chair meets the expectations of discerning customers, ampliTex™ was the ideal choice thanks to its unique high-end appearance.
A Perfect Match for Furniture and Luxury Goods
With advanced composites becoming an increasingly popular material within high-end furniture design and production, the use of natural fibres that cannot only match the visual quality of carbon but add their very own unique appearance, could be an important step towards decarbonising the industry. To learn more about the use of Bcomp’s ampliTex™ and powerRibs™ technologies in furniture and luxury goods, please get in touch with our design team.
If you would like to learn more about Tras and its REI chair, please visit www.tras.co.jp
All images © Tras / Koichi OHTANI