It’s hard to imagine how you could make chopsticks any more basic than they already are, but Oki Sato of the Japanese design company Nendo managed to find a way. In collaboration with Hashikura Matsukan, a manufacturer who makes some of the hardest and most beautiful Japanese lacquer chopsticks, Nendo has created the next generation of chopsticks.
The principle is simple: “Chopsticks ordinarily come in pairs, but the rassen chopsticks are a single unit. They’re separated into two for eating, then rejoined into one form when not in use,” explains Sato. There are two variations on the idea; Rassen and kamiai. Rassen means helix, and refers to the DNA-like shape used to link the two together, while kamiai means interlock.
Sato explains how kamiai came to be: “We put a gap on one of the four sides of the square shaped chopstick, and embedded a magnet, so that the two would snap together in one piece when they are flipped and fitted to each other. We placed the magnets towards the outside of each chopstick, so that the chopsticks don’t come together accidentally while someone is using them to eat.”