Collaborating with artist friends, Rio Kobayashi launched his first solo exhibition for the London Design Festival, creating a living room installation that intrigues with its art and furniture. The exhibition is entitled Manus Manum Lavat – a Latin phrase meaning ‘one hand washes the other’ – which introduces the key theme of the show, friendship, fraternity, and family. The Japanese designer (who trained as a cabinet maker in Austria before launching his studio in London) wanted to create a convivial space that reflected the values of one’s living room, both comfortable and creative.  

On one side of the room, the grand Fatty Tuna dining table stands complete with a shark fin serving board upright on its top. The Fatty Tuna table was a joint effort with artist James Hague, who hand-painted the detailed fish flat on the wood. In the center of the room, the cake sofa is as delicious as it sounds. The piece was created with designer Flavia Brandle and features swirling pastel colors against a pale background, the sofa arranged in modular shapes with dual ‘cake stands’ providing space for a slice or two of the real thing. Elsewhere, a bat shelf completed from the remnants an old table is mounted to a wall, a speaker is adorned with hand-painted geometric shapes in primary colors, and a large Japanese paper screen is present to represent one of Kobayashi’s first collections, reflecting on the starting point of his journey.

See more of his work here.

Photography © Rio Kobayashi / Studio Stagg / James Harris

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