Founded in 1940,
Tendo Mokko (天童木工) is the most important furniture manufacturer in Japan since World War II. They combines ancestral know-how with new technologies and their expansion contributed to distribute new types of furniture in the archipelago and to glow internationally.
The company’s history began in 1940 in the city of Tendo, in the northwestern part of Japan’s Yamagata prefecture. This historic city is known for the quality of their carpenters. A small group of them decided to form a cooperative to produce wooden objects. However, due to the shortage of ammunitions, their activities turned first to the war; incorporated in 1942, they continued their war efforts and joined the Industrial Arts Institute (IAI) in Sendai to use molded plywood technology to make aircraft. Tendo Mokko opened an office in Tokyo in 1947 and began to produce furniture for the occupying troops after Japan’s defeat.
In the early 1950s, the company finally began to manufacture everyday furniture for private houses and large-scale projects. It was one of the first Japanese design editors to adapt plywood to this type of production. Based on the attractive economic model of royalties, Tendo Mokko is a promise lande to the greatest names of design: Isamu Kenmochi (1912-1971), Riki Watanabe (1912-2013), Daisaku Cho (1921-2014) or Kenzo Tange (1913-2005). This last famous Japanese architect was one of the first to contribute to the brand’s catalog with his plywood seats made for the Ehime Prefecture, built in 1953.
Tendo Mokko organized an annual design competition from 1960 to 1967 to promote young creation. Some of the winning designs were manufactured by the company itself, such as the famous “Murai” stool designed by Reiko Tanabe (born in 1934).
Their role in democratization furniture is huge. Thanks to their strong expertise, an impressive catalog and a solid reputation, the company is present in every fields: it supplies furniture to hotels, offices, theaters, museums and libraries. Tendo Mokko was awarded the prestigious Mainichi Prize for Industrial Design in 1964.
Their production model is almost unique: they combine the best of both tradition and industry. Yamagata’s craftsmen bring patience, technique and curiosity and factories adapt this precious know-how to their needs. Thus Tendo Mokko offers long-lasting and simple furniture, signed by great names of Japanese design. They use plywood allowing a freedom of forms, impossible to obtain with natural wood: the iconic “Butterfly ” stool by Sori Yanagi (1915-2011) manufactured since 1956 by the firm is the perfect example, using new techniques to bring quality furniture in Japanese interiors.
Japanese equivalent of the Americans Knoll or Herman Miller, Tendo Mokko is the most important furniture manufacturer in Japan. They are leader in the production of furniture and count some of the best design masters in their catalogs. They have a highly reputation based on quality to any object they produced.