History

KOTOBUKI has been creating valued chairs for over a century since our establishment in 1914. Looking back on the Company's footprint, our future direction becomes apparent.

1914-1920s

1914.

The ‘Kotobuki Shouten’ store is found in the Yurakucho district of Tokyo.

Koya Fukasawa founds the ‘Kotobuki Shouten’ store in the Yurakucho district of Tokyo to sell carpets and ‘grass rugs’. This is the origin of Kotobuki Seating. People had become accustomed to wearing Western clothing and were beginning to westernize their lifestyles, but rugs and carpets were still quite rare and not considered important in the lives of the average Japanese. Despite this, Koya Fukasawa felt that demand for ‘grass rugs’ would eventually grow in Japan and opened a shop to sell them.

Koya Fukasawa

1916.

The Kotobuki Trading House is established as a corporate enterprise.

The ‘grass rugs’ are well received, particularly by the expatriate community, and one year after opening the shop, the Kotobuki Trading House is established as a corporate enterprise. From 1917, the company enlarges its business to sell furniture together with the rugs. The chairs the Kotobuki Trading House dealt in were not aimed at ordinary households, rather the store specialized in expensive Louis XIV-style and grandfather chairs. Sales increased dramatically when the chairs and rugs were offered together as a set. Koya Fukasawa was one of the first people to realize the potential of offering the general public selected furniture coordinated with rugs.

1925.

Revolutionary ‘connected seating’ are installed at the Tokyo Imperial University’s Yasuda Auditorium

With demand for Western-style furniture displaying unprecedented growth, Koya Fukasawa develops the company’s revolutionary ‘connected seating’. These are purchased by Tokyo Imperial University for its Yasuda Auditorium, this achievement marking the emergence of the Kotobuki Trading House as Japan’s leading provider of connected seating. After the installation in the Yasuda Auditorium, orders for Kotobuki’s connected seats come in from theatres, halls and auditoriums throughout the country.

1930s-1940s

1934.

Announced the monopod swivel chair and named it FK type

After approximately six years in development, the company begins production of the ‘FK Swivel Chair’ (patented), ‘FK’ referring to Koya Fukasawa’s initials. First deliveries of this chair are made to the Department of Architecture in Tokyo Imperial University’s Engineering Faculty the following year, 1935. The ‘FK Swivel Chair’ receives numerous patents and utility model registrations and together with connecting chairs and classroom chairs, becomes one of the Kotobuki Trading House’s leading products

1936.

Delivered small chairs to the National Assembly Building completed this year

Construction of the National Diet Building is finally completed after sixteen years and in addition to providing two hundred chairs with tablets, the swivel section of the seats used in the House of Representatives utilizes a mechanism covered by a Kotobuki utility model registration.

1947.

The business becomes incorporated as Kotobuki Trading Co., Ltd. and simultaneously the Kotobuki Light Industry Co., Ltd (Sakai Factory) is also established.

1950s

1956.

Research is initiated into the mass-production of Fiber Reinforced Plastic (FRP) products.

1958.

Moveable spectator seating (roll back stand) is developed.

Moveable spectator seating (roll back stand) is developed. The company develops the basic form of moveable spectator seating, which is now in common use. Two varieties, bench-type and chair-type are delivered to the Jingu Gaien indoor swimming pool.In the same year, mass production of FRP seating begins. The first deliveries of FRP seating consist of chairs designed by the architect, Kenzou Tange, which are installed in the Imabari City Hall.

1960s

1960.

FRP chairs designed by Sori Yanagi are displayed at the 12th Triennale di Milano.

FRP chairs designed by Souri Yanagi are displayed at the 12th Triennale di Milano. The unique shape of these triangular stacking chairs leads them to become known of as ‘Elephant Stools’. Their innovative design attracts wide attention.

1965.

The ‘Kotobuki Chair ’65’ exhibition is held

The ‘Kotobuki Chair ’65’ exhibition is held in Fukuoka, Kumamoto, Tokyo, Osaka, Toyama, Utsunomiya, Sendai and Sapporo to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Kotobuki Trading Co., Ltd. and Kotobuki Light Industry Co., Ltd. Focusing on FRP products, this exhibition features the entire range of chairs produced by the company and attracting a total of approximately 10,000 visitors, it is considered a great success.In addition, these exhibitions mark the introduction of electric roll back stands.

1968.

FRP adopted in automobile for the first time in Japan

FRP headlight cases are produced for the Nissan 240Z sports car, marking the first use of composite materials in automobile production. This represents a historical milestone, as it is the first time that FRP has been has utilized in the production of automobile body parts in Japan.

1970s

1970.

Producing the face of the "Tower of the Sun" at the Osaka Expo with FRP

The ‘Tower of the Sun’ by the artist, Taro Okamoto, is constructed as the symbol of Japan’s first international exposition. Due to Kotobuki’s skill and reputation in FRP production it is commissioned to produce the face on the tower. The prototype for the ‘sun face’ is created in expanded polystyrene and the shaping finished by Taro Okamoto, but being too large to be transported, this is cut into sections. A mold is created from the prototype then the finished work produced using the hand lay-up process. Finally, the work is transported to the site in sections where it is reassembled and fixed into place. It is an extremely large-scale project.In addition, Kotobuki produces FRP seating to be installed in various open spaces and pavilions throughout the Expo site. The company is also commissioned to design the first outdoor bench produced by a Japanese company, the result being the long-selling street furniture, ‘World Expo Bench’, designed by Mr. Matsumoto, director of Kenmochi Design Associates. It consists of numerous small FRP units that can be laid out in straight lines or ‘R’ shapes to produce novel benches that are both beautiful and functional, the like of which have never been seen before.This bench can be said to be the origin of contemporary ‘street furniture’

1973.

The Kotobuki Trading Co., Ltd. and Kotobuki Light Industry Co., Ltd merge to become the Kotobuki Co., Ltd.

1979.

410 capsule beds are delivered to the world’s first capsule hotel the Capsule-Inn’ Osaka.

Producing the face of the "Tower of the Sun" at the Osaka Expo with FRP

1980s

1986.

Produced seats for Suntory Hall

Kotobuki is selected to provide the seating for the Suntory Hall, the first dedicated concert hall in Japan to adopt the vineyard style. The finest quality in appearance, comfort, quality, and durability is called for in order to create the ultimate hall. In line with the concept of ‘retaining the outstanding acoustics and atmosphere of the hall’ these same seats are renewed when the hall is renovated 20 years later.

1987.

Interkal LLC. (USA) merges with the Kotobuki Group.

1988.

Produced seats for Tokyodome

The ‘blow-molded tandem seat, BLM-4150 series’ is developed for use in Japan’s first dome-type, all-weather baseball stadium, the ‘Tokyo Dome’. At this time, the majority of American-made stadium seats have a sturdy shape with masculine appeal, but hoping to attract more women spectators, the Tokyo Dome adopts a softer, rounder design that women find easier to relate to.

1990s

1992.

Delivered rotating theater seating to the Seville World Exposition

RTM (Resin Transfer Molding) seats with a built-in simultaneous interpreting system, designed by Toshiyuki Kita, are delivered to the circular theatre in the Japanese pavilion at the Seville Expo. An example of this chair is now in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

1993.

Audience Systems Ltd.(UK) merges with the Kotobuki Group.

2000s

2000.

Town Art Co., Ltd. is established after separated from Kotobiki Seating.

2001.

KSS Co., Ltd., is established to provide specialist after-sales service.

2004.

Head office moves from Yurakucho to Kanda Surugadai. Kotobuki Sea Co., Ltd. is established in Vietnam, expanding its business focusing on South-east Asia.

2005.

Taiwan Kotobuki Corporation is established in Taiwan.

2006.

The Kotobuki 60 Series goes on sale (ends in 2010)

The Kotobuki 60 Series goes on sale (ends in 2010)Participates in the ‘60 Vision’ project, in which twelve corporations from different fields cooperate to recreate famous chairs dating from the 1960s. The chair Kotobuki produces for project this receives the 2008 ‘Good Design Award for Small and Medium Enterprises.’

KOTOBUKI KOREA CO., LTD. is established in Korea.

2010s

2010.

Kotobuki Holding Co., Ltd. is established with Kotobuki Seating Co., Ltd. as a subsidiary.

2011.

New adjustable theatre seating ‘Premium RSC’ is developed.

New adjustable theatre seating is developed and delivered to the Yurihonjo City Cultural Center, Kadare.Sturdy, adjustable seating, capable of being moved for storage is developed for theatre/hall use (Premium RCS). Even with an adjustable structure and mobile capability, it is possible to achieve acoustic and comfort levels almost equivalent to those of fixed seating. The introduction of this seating makes it possible to use a single space as both theatre/hall and parquet.

2013.

Kotobuki Seating APAC Pte. Ltd. is established in Singapore.

2014.

The company celebrates its centenary anniversary. The new Showroom is opened in the head office. QUINETTE GALLAY RENAISSANCE (France) merges with the Kotobuki Seating Group.

2016.

Ferco Seating Systems (M) Sdn Bhd. merges with the Kotobuki Seating Group.

2018.

Kotobuki Seating International, Inc. is established in USA.