Andrea Ponti’s latest project, a limited-edition wooden kitchen knife called Fusion, unites two distinct influences that exist in the industrial designer’s creative DNA.

An Italian designer who specialises in everyday electronics, Ponti moved to Japan after graduating from Milan’s Politecnico in 2006. He has worked in a number of renowned design firms around the country, soaking up inspiration from leading designers, and is currently the art director and chief designer for Pineway Asia Ltd, and Innopocket, a smartphone accessories company.

However, being from two such food-loving nations, perhaps it’s not surprising that Ponti has also dabbled in kitchen products that combine high-tech production with the natural materials that feature in so much pared-back Japanese design.

“I was always fascinated by the simplicity and beauty of Japanese cuisine and traditional kitchenware: mono-material, mono-design, timeless, universal, so simple but so perfect,” says Ponti. “But I didn’t want to redesign something already perfect. That’s why I combined a typical European product, the kitchen knife, with a typical Japanese material and manufacture process.”

An earlier project, the Bosco cutting board and iPad stand, was a deceptively simple idea. Consisting of a base and board carved from a single log of gingko by a Kyoto craftsman, once the board is removed for use it can be replaced by an iPad standing either vertically or horizontally, giving the cook access to any recipe on the internet.

The Fusion knife is a similarly basic-at-first-glance product that manages to say a lot with a brief visual statement. Inspired by traditional Japanese wood craft, the two different versions are carved (by Kyoto artisan Issei Hanaoka) from ebony and white maple wood, both of which are extremely hard and durable.

“Do we really need a super-sharp stainless steel knife just to cut a piece of bread? I think no, wood is enough, and much more pleasant. We chose two different types of wood to differentiate our product: the ebony is hard, solid and quite heavy. The white maple is lighter, softer and pleasant to touch. Two materials for two different tastes or feelings.”

The knives, which come either serrated or straight, have an edge that is very easy to sharpen, and being made from a single piece of wood, are seamless and therefore easy to clean and maintain.

“Honestly, I didn’t need to adapt so much or modify my design process,” says the designer. “I’m used to working with simple material as wood, glass or aluminum. Of course, it’s harder than traditional industrial products because you have hundreds of limits, but the final result is always much more gratifying.”

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