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Tomita Designs Tomita designs are drawn from traditional Japanese forms and the context of a multicultural upbringing. Thu, 18 Nov 2010 05:33:13 +0000 en TomitaDesigns in Festool! Thu, 18 Nov 2010 05:31:39 +0000 admin

Festool is basically the Ferrari of woodworking tools.  I love them and have slowly added to my collection over the years.  Although I often curse the Germans at the expense I keep going back, simply because they are the best.   They make the best tools possible at any cost and say F U- youre gonna have to pay if you want the best… pretty much.  And I buy them!

Pretty cool- they featured my Teak cabana project in their blog.  Click the image to link to it!   I’m more proud of this than being on TV 3 times!

Grove iPhone4 Case Revealed! Tue, 08 Jun 2010 05:44:10 +0000 admin Exciting day in iPhone land with the official announcement of the iPhone4.  Steve Jobs has “wowwed” us with the fancy features including the new retina display and HD video.  Relevant to what we do is that iPhone4 is 24% thinner than the 3G.  This allows us to make our case thinner.  We have been prototyping based on projections and are ready to release our product immediately.  

We are REALLY excited about our new case.  Its really thin at less than .5″ thick overall.  It will add less than 1/16″ to the thickness of the phone and due to a new feature will be even stronger than before.  We have the same metal bezel design as our 3G case and have successfully made prototypes already.

We are most excited to offer special introductory pricing starting at $49!!!!  We are accepting deposits immediately to secure your iPhone4 Grove case.

First Grove Orders Shipped Thu, 06 May 2010 01:43:49 +0000 admin We just shipped our first orders for Grove.  Exciting times as we see 9 months of development finally come to fruition.  Joe took some great pics of the artist series and uploaded them to flickr.  

Great details of the laser engraving!  Simply amazing detail…

Grove Launch! +Partay~ Wed, 21 Apr 2010 01:40:00 +0000 admin Its official!  We just launched our new company Grove yesterday.   Grove is a partnership between myself and Joe Mansfield of Engrave.  Our first product is a laser engraved bamboo iphone case!

Our site is essentially a place where you can make your own case.  Enjoy browsing the artist series or upload your own artwork. Or simply get a blank case.  You can select one of 3 bamboo body colors and 7 bezel colors.  Know that these cases aren’t getting made in some sweatshop overseas.  Were making them in my shop!


After months of top secret R&D, we’ve perfected our bamboo iphone cases - and we’d like to celebrate with you. The Grove launch party will go down during the open studio night at Towne Storage (17 SE 3rd #502) on May 1st 6pm-10pm.

We’ll be giving a bamboo iphone case away every hour and the winners can choose artwork to be laser engraved on the spot. There will be new laser engraved artwork on display by Jolby & Friends and we’ll be pouring Vortex IPA from Fort George Brewery. If you’re in Portland on the 1st, stop by with a glass and friends.

See ya there!

win a bamboo iphone become facebook fan

Natural Edge Hall Table Wed, 17 Mar 2010 00:52:49 +0000 admin Just completed this hall table made from a nice salvaged maple slab.  Im doing a little bit of metalwork now.  Im into leaving metal looking raw like it just came from the mill.  In this case, I made the parts that I had to weld/grind match by using a metal blackening patina.

Fun design where its basically a tripod structure.  The weight of the steel leg helps stabilize this delicated looking structure.  I got nerdy and routed a pocket on the bottom so the metal leg sits flush with the bottom of the wood.  Stunning figure in the burl.

I love working with natural edge wood because every design is dependent on the material I have on hand.  Everything from material selection to design and fabrication feels more free-form like sculpture.  Also, I like the concept that these big slabs I get are all urban salvage meaning they are trees that are getting cut down for parking lots,road expansions, etc.  Usually the wood gets chopped into firewood.  Fires are nice but how bout some cool furniture instead?

SHIFT: A GREEN SALON Wed, 17 Feb 2010 06:56:43 +0000 admin I will be representing Grove at AIGA Portland’s SHIFT: A Green Salon event.  Ten presenters from various industries have been chosen to speak about their ideas on sustainable design and we have been chosen!   I will give a brief presentation titled “A journey in sustainable product and packaging design”.  

The event is Thursday, February 18th at ZIBA design (810 NW Marshall) at 7pm.  This will in a way be the first public unveiling of our new product.  Very exciting!  This is my Steve Jobs moment…

Advertised free beer if you bring your own mug!

Acrylic/Walnut Combo Thu, 11 Feb 2010 00:16:46 +0000 admin Ive been working on these pieces for Myhre Group Architects.   1.75″ thick solid walnut with mitre construction. Mitres are trickier to execute than the good ‘ol butt joint- thats why most stuff is not built like this.  I like the lack of end grain and how clean it keeps the design and maintains the flow so its worth the trouble for me.

1/4″ acrylic serves as a structural spine and a nice color accent.  Both red and yellow look killer with the walnut. The grain pops so nice with my hand rubbed natural finish.  It really helps to work with nice material and take the time to do good finish work.

With my new machine I engraved the logo of the building these are going in and backfilled it with white paint.  Of course, the process was way more complicated than I expected but the end result = excellent!

Grove Tue, 26 Jan 2010 21:46:21 +0000 admin For the past 4 months or so I have been working on starting up a new business with my friend Joe Mansfield of Engrave.   He runs a laser engraving company specializing in doing all things cool.  Check out his flickr here.  While we have been neighbors and friends for years, it recently dawned on us that our skills compliment each other well and we shared the same passion and devotion for creative exploration.

While we will continue to operate our own companies we will collaborate on products for the new company named “grove”. Grove will focus on environmentally friendly laser customizable products made of bamboo.  We are using FSC certified bamboo and making the process as local and green as we reasonably can.  Finishes are all natural and packaging design will focus on reusing and recycling.

Ive purchased a CNC milling machine to use for TomitaDesigns and also Grove.  The new 4axis Haas VF2 is accurate to 1/25th of the width of a human hair.

I will design/build the products along with Joe and he will add the customization ability of his laser similar to his engraveyourbook series.  Combined with Joe’s large format Trotec Laser we can make just about anything!

We will be launching in about a month at the underconstruction website   Stay tuned.

Deer Chaboo Living in Style Thu, 21 Jan 2010 03:27:49 +0000 admin

Amy Ruppel’s deer chaboo has found a home in Venice Beach, California.  Yes, there are deer in Southern California… well… now there are.

1 block from the beach!  Not bad

GLO apartments- Los Angeles part2 Tue, 08 Dec 2009 03:51:17 +0000 admin Continuation from part1…

Recap: Installed teak cabanas and bar at the Glo Apartments in downtown LA for Myhre Group Architects in August.

Part2 involved this solid teak bar with Corian top and accompanying jumbo cabana.

This cabana was HUGE.  9ft tall!  It was nerve wracking assembling it on site and erecting the thing because it is so heavy and tall.  I had a system using 2×4s to create temporary bracing which allowed me to slide the parts closer to each other with ratchet straps in unison moving very slooooowly.  Any racking and the teak could break.

I actually had not mocked up the fabric with any of the cabana structures before I had left for LA.  Stupid yes, but I had no choice.  The fabric arrived late from Italy setting off a chain reaction of stress which led to the finished fabric elements arriving as the freight truck was arriving, leaving no time to even open the package. I flew down knowing I would have to wing it on site- nothing new there!

The first problem I encountered was that the pitch of the tensile roof was not adequate to keep water from pooling.  If you ever estimate the minimum pitch for a fabric roof- double it!  On the spot we devised an elegant solution:  pull the center up reminiscent of the Olympic Stadium in Munich!

On site we made yet more design decisions on how to thread the cable through the grommets around the corner areas.  The details on these jobs are fun to figure out and refine.  How materials come together, fasten, secure and relate to one another has to be built to built to be truly optimized.  Cant do that sitting at a computer.  Often, I feel that its these little things that are super subtle that no one would seemingly ever notice MAKE good design.

I put an arch in the backside to add the lone non rectilinear element to the entire job.  Adds a touch of elegance and sophistication.