Above and below: The Aichi
Arts Centre in Nagoya, Japan
THE KOTOBUKI SEATING GROUP
A n audience plays a powerful
collaborative role in a live
performance. The audience reacts
to the performers who, in turn,
react to the audience in a constant
cyclic interchange. Venues must provide spaces
for this interaction to take place, and should also
provide patrons with excellent sightlines, perfect
audio and a seat that is comfortable to sit in.
Every venue is unique, presenting its
own set of challenges to be overcome. The
Kotobuki Seating group of seat manufacturers
offers customers its expertise and meaningful
collaboration, from concept to opening night.
The Aichi Prefectural Art Theater in Nagoya,
Japan, is a multi-stage auditorium; the jewel in a
grand cultural complex, hosting opera and ballet
performances. The bespoke seating was designed
by Kotobuki to complement the unique interior
and the operator’s vision to create a top-class
venue in which to share and disseminate art
culture in Japan.
The seat was selected for its quality and
craftsmanship. The theatre also wished to retain
the aesthetic of the original installation; to
embrace the future, whilst preserving the past.
The refurbishment project took over a year
to complete and great care and expertise was
required to replace some of the 2,480 seats
on two floors and to restore others with new
cushioned foam, upholstery and armrests.
A Grade II listed theatre
Preserving the building’s heritage and aesthetic
was the challenge for Stockton Tees Borough
Council when the seats in the Forum Theatre,
Billingham, UK, reached the end of their lives –
after 52 years’ faithful service.
The original seats had been installed in 1967.
Designed by local architect Alan Ward of Elder
& Lester, the Forum Theatre is an archetypal
building of its time, and the building has
Grade II listed status.
The council worked with theatre consultant
Chris Baldwin and Audience Systems to design
a modern seat that would sit comfortably in the
building’s interior. The Icon model was specially
adapted with modern touches such as a soft-close
feature and a pocket-sprung seat pan. A classic
fabric was chosen to visually connect the new
seats to the originals, and the chairs’ wooden
panels were specifically designed to tone with
the building’s distinctive slatted timber. Finally,
elegant details such as the arched backrest and
subtly rebated row letters softened the chair
against the angular lines of the auditorium.
Seat replacement projects in heritage theatres
always come with a degree of complexity. A
digital survey of the space uncovered the fact
there were three different seat widths and four
different backrest angles, meaning careful
planning and execution were essential in
ensuring that the new seats were a perfect fit.
A Malaysian school
A poll conducted by The Stage magazine showed
that 88% of UK respondents thought theatres
should prioritise audience comfort over seating
capacity. This trend can be seen in the newly
The latest projects by each of the four seating
manufacturers within the Kotobuki Seating
group demonstrate their focus on collaboration
- from concept to opening night
60 AUDITORIA 2020 VOLUME ONE