Tatami UK at WABI SABI – Introduction
WABI SABI is a design company that was set up in 1998 by the Japanese designer
Kuniko Kataoka specializing in Japanese art and interiors and at the request
of various clients we imported and installed tatami mats and in so doing
established a link with a renowned Tokyo based tatami mat maker. After several
projects the Tokyo tatami maker asked if we would like to represent them
in Europe and this has now become a business in its own right.
Rooms in the UK do not naturally lend themselves to the easy fitting of tatami mats and so we offer a bespoke service where any size of mat can be ordered and we are also able to offer a service for their fitting and where desired we can also design interiors and furniture to complement the tatami mats. Please follow this link to our furniture and design site.
Tatami are made from a natural product and to enjoy their fragrance at its best it is important that they are not stored for too long. In addition to this there are more than 1000 combinations of different mats and borders so instead of limiting the choice and compromising on the quality and freshness we decided to offer a bespoke service where a client can order exactly the right mat to match their own requirements, for size, style and border.
For a bepoke mat service the process including the shipping from Japan takes about 6 weeks in total from the time of order.
What are Tatami mats?
Tatami mats are traditional Japanese floor mats made from tightly woven rice straw and despite many other flooring options available in Japan they are still widely used and highly valued. Given below is a brief history of the mats, their health benefits and the reasons they are such a good choice for both the home environment and also the environment as a whole.
Tatami form an integral part of Japanese culture and design and, even in modern day apartments in Tokyo, rooms are designed according to the size of tatami mats. For a country whose history is so entwined with rice it seems almost inevitable that the vast amount of rice straw produced as a by-product of rice farming would be put to good use and around a thousand years ago mats were being used to cushion hard flooring. These then evolved into a more substantial mat that has become a fundamental element of all Japanese interiors.
Why tatami mats?
Containing approximately 30,000 rice stems compressed into a mat just 6cm thick, a tatami mat has a number of advantages over other types of flooring. There has been research done into the health benefits of living in a tatami room and the natural fragrance of the rice straw has been shown to have a positive effect on ones sense of well being and the rice straw within the mat is also able to maintain a more stable level of humidity in a room by absorbing moisture when it is damp and releasing it when the room is dry.
For those who are keen to minimise their impact on the Earth's environment tatami mats offer a sustainable and eco friendly solution. The main constituents are all natural by-products of rice production and even when the tatami has come to the end of its useful life they can be cut into smaller sections and used for compost.
It is hardly surprising that tatami are still so highly valued in Japan and maybe just a little surprising that their many advantages have yet to be truly discovered in the West.
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