Object of Desire: Shaker Boxes by a Japanese Craftsman

Shaker boxes by Masashi Ifuji, Japan.

Masashi Ifuji encountered his first Shaker box while flipping through a magazine when he was in high school: “I was amazed by the existence of such a dainty, elegant object.” Later, when his training as a master woodworker was underway, Ifuji went on a Shaker pilgrimage to the Eastern US: “I visited Pleasant Hill, Mount Lebanon, Hancock, Enfield, Canterbury, Watervliet, Sabbathday Lake, and Old Chatham Shaker sites and museums: it was a very thorough journey,” he told John and Juli Baker of Mjölk in Toronto, which recently staged a Ifuji show.

Mjölk is one of several of our favorite design destinations to spotlight Ifuji’s work of late. Join us for an appreciatory tour.

Photography courtesy of Ifuji, unless noted.

Ifuji furniture studio, Masumoto, Nagano, Japan
Above: In addition to Shaker boxes, Ifuj makes furniture and tableware, all in wood. He lives and works in Matsumoto, a city Nagano, Japan, where he and his wife run Laboratorio, a multi-faceted emporium and café with an Ifuji’s showroom.
Ifuji The Box Tailor, Tokyo.
Above: Ifuji’s new Tokyo shop, The Box Tailor offers the full array of his Shaker receptacles—and the option to order custom versions, designed to hold specific objects, for instance. Each takes up to three days to make, and Ifuji creates most of his stains from plant dyes.
Ifuji table and stools at March SF
Above Ifuji’s line also includes table and stools newly available at March in San Francisco. The Folding Tables, $2,500, a March exclusive, are made by hand of maple finished with a dye made from logwood, a dark heartwood. The design is modeled after British early 20th century campaign furniture and collapses for easy storage. Photograph via March.
iIfuji walnut three-legged stools via March SF.
Above: Ifuji’s three-legged walnut stools are available in three finishes from March, which describes his work as “reproductions of old objects, created as a guide to tomorrow by making lessons of the past.” The Walnut Three-Legged Stools, $900, are light and sturdy—”all of my pieces,” Ifuji says, “are meant to be used.” Photograph via March.
Shaker boxes by Masashi Ifuji, Japan.
Above: A display at Ifuji The Box Tailor in Tokyo. “I find that despite the boxes originating in America, they have such a purity of design language that they find universal relevance,” Ifuji says.

Ifuji crafts his boxes the traditional way, by boiling the wood, shaping it, and allowing it to dry in a mold for two days. Photograph via Mjölk.

Masashi Ifuji exhibit at Mjolk in Toronto
Above: A glimpse of the Masashi Ifuji exhibit at Mjölk in Toronto, where his Oval Boxes range in price from $75 to $2,000 CAD. See all of the shop’s Ifuji offerings here, and read the interview with Ifuji that accompanied the Mjölk exhibition of his work. Photograph via Mjölk.
Shaker boxes in milk paint pink by Ifuji, Japan
Above: Above: Ifuji has started finishing some of his boxes with milk paint, including this pink collection.
Ifuji large Italian round plate from Tiina The Store
Above: Ifuji also makes an array of wooden plates and trays. This Italian Wooden Plate, $155 small and $225 large, is one of several available at Tiina the Store in Amagansett, NY, which also carries Ifuji’s boxes. Photograph via Tiina the Store.
Ifuji Shaker tray with grape hyacinth via Ifuji, Japan.
Above: An Ifuji Shaker tray with a grape hyacinth spotted @masashi_ifuji. He uses swallow tail joints and copper rivets—and never any glues.
Ifuji Shaker boxes via Koto Ma
Above: An Ifuji stack of Japanese cherry via Koto Ma. See the full array of his designs at Ifuji—and watch this Youtube video of the master at work.

Featured image: Ifuji’s own showcase of his designs.

More Shaker design—and contemporary versions of it:

N.B.: This post was first published on Remodelista on March 13, 2023.

You need to login or register to view and manage your bookmarks.

No more results!

Haven't found what you are looking for? Try seaching!