schemata’s SENBAN method carves intriguing forms at milan design week

during milan design week 2021, schemata architects / jo nagasaka will present ‘SENBAN’, a new method of lathe processing to carve out any form, regardless of the shape of each object. on view from september 4 to september 12 at alcova, the project demonstrates a new and fun method of rotational processing using three circular saw lathes, along with the designs produced with it. ‘SENBAN’ started with the japanese pavilion at the 2021 venice architecture biennale, where the architecture firm is participating this year (read our interview here).


‘when I was involved in the design of the japanese pavilion at this year’s venice biennale, I wanted to join the scaffolding material, a single tube (48.6Φ), to an old square timber of varying sizes, and in order to cut the square timber without it bouncing, I rotated it in the same direction as the rotation,’ notes schemata’s jo nagasaka. ‘in order to cut the wood without it being bounced, I decided to use a circular saw rotated in the same direction as the rotation to cut the wood to 48.6Φ. I used this method to make several pieces of furniture, such as tables and benches, and set them up at the venue. this courageous circular saw lathe, which cuts the desired shape without being disturbed by the shape of each object, is quite interesting. it tickles my curiosity. so this time, we made three types of lathe machines, each of which produced multiple works.’

schemata exhibits new SENBAN method to carve intriguing forms at milan design week
schemata’s SENBAN 3

all images courtesy of schemata architects / jo nagasaka



‘SENBAN’ is a joint project between long-time collaborators schemata architects / jo nagasaka, who designed the method and the objects created by it, and narutake fukumoto / TANK, a construction company that created a processing machine to realize it and produced the objects. ‘humans have been creating all kinds of civilizations with rotational motion since the days of fire,’ reads the project’s description. ‘from the development of agriculture through irrigation systems using windmills and water mills, to the evolution of food culture through flour milling, to the invention of factories and transportation equipment using steam engines powered by coal, rotary motion has developed along with human evolution. in the midst of all this, or rather in the midst of such vertically-oriented evolution, we have developed a new and fun method of rotational processing through horizontal, or sideways, evolution.’

schemata exhibits new SENBAN method to carve intriguing forms at milan design week



the exhibition will present three types of lathe machines, each of which produced multiple works. in ‘SENBAN 1’, the object is rotated in a certain direction, and a circular saw, rotated in the same direction as the rotation, is moved in the X direction while approaching the object in the Y direction to form a cylinder. ‘the work was created for the venice biennale 2021, where I processed an existing coffee table to create the twins,’ explains nagasaka.



meanwhile, ‘SENBAN 2’ is when an object rotating at right angles to the object’s rotation is brought close to the object in the Z direction, the object is sliced as it rotates, and the result is hollowed out into a bowl. ‘this time, I made two types of objects to be processed: one is a piece of scrap wood from TANK, and the other is a vertical piece,’ adds the japanese architect. finally, in ‘SENBAN 3’, the object to be processed was cut into a cylindrical shape by rotating the object and bringing the object rotating in the right angle direction closer to the object’s XY direction.

schemata SENBAN method to carve intriguing forms at milan design week

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