You are Here: Home  > TAKESHI NII  Back

Mr. Takeshi Nii is well known since 70s (for modern furniture design, especially folding mechanism for chairs and Tables. Hence, NY chair is well known for over 50years both east and west. His product was a permanent collection since 1970 in MoMA (Meseum of Modern Art) in New York.  Mr. Nii died on Oct 5, 2007 at the age of 87.

These are the hand write letters from Mr. Takeshi Nii to Jesse Liau year 2001 and 2002

letter from Nii to Jesse Dec 28, 2001

card 1card 2


Story of my NY CHAIRS production

It looks simple, yet it needs good quality, good craft and technique to produce a good NY Chair. We are producing it now even with improved crafts to make it stronger but cheaper so that majority of the art sense people can afford to buy.


The following is a very complete story of Mr. Takeshi Nii and our working with him for the last 27 years. Also I need to give a total picture the development of many related items designed by Takeshi Nii as a whole.

Mr. Takeshi Nii First designed the master piece called NY X CHAIR since 1958 and together he made an Ottoman to combine using with it. Then, he developed a rocker call NY X ROCKER for it. The different is only with curve tube base. These products won very high prizes in the world furniture competition in 1970s and it was a permanent collection in MoMA New York. It was of course protected by design patent since then. But design patent normally do not protect long against pirate when the patent expire. But, since the NY X chair was well known by the world furniture design understanding, it was actually protected as a TRADE MARK like Breuer Chair designed by Marcel Breuer since 1920 or Thonet Chair by Michael Thonet since 19th century. And since it was well considered as a TRADE MARK, it will be protected forever, at least in his own country Japan. But Just like Breuer chair was mass-copied by pirates in million pieces for USA market, Ny chair was also somehow copied. But if anyone are dare to show the Breuer chair in Koln furniture fair without permission, it would surely be subjected to take away from the stand by the official.

The NY X chair was in the beginning only officially producing in Japan with permission by Mr. Nii and selling in the USA or Europe for many years. Design was protected forever in Japan. Mr. Nii never authorized any production in Italy or any other place (except later on in Taiwan by Jesse. Twenty eight years ago (1990), when he learnt that my technique could be capable to produce good NY X chair for him, Mr. Nii told me that he hope I can produce his chair and sell all over the world. On top of that Mr. Nii trusts my honesty. At that time, he once sued a Taiwan pirate producing and selling Ny X Chair in Japan. He showed me how ugly and poor quality the chair was and he sued him all because of the poor copy ruin his reputation. He said, if that guy makes good quality of the chair, he will not sue him. He knew Italian was copying his chair and paying nothing to him. He did not sue them just because they made good quality.

I met Mr. Nii in my stand in the Tokyo furniture Fair 1990. He tested sitting on all my chair designed by my Swedish designer Mr. Rutger Anderson, who was my colleague when we both working for IKEA ( I was the first IKEA Taiwan General Manager setting up the product development Unit in Taiwan till 1987) for developing furniture and furnishing products shipping to all IKEA shops. The high pick export is about 160 million US dollars per year. after 30 minute test sitting, we had a very sincere talk as I knew his name well and I respected him. I invited him to come to Taiwan for a week visiting all my factories. He wrote in Han words 誠信 (means trustworthy, honesty or sincerity) on a paper to affirm his trust on me and wishes to work with me on all his products. When he came to Taiwan, he hand-carried two newly designed prototype chairs to me. We worked for a week together. However, I admitted to him that by that time my production team did not have yet good technique of manufacturing and I promised to work out until our facility more updated. During the next 10 years, we see each other often in Japan when I attend the show or doing business trip. Mr. Nii sent me New Year cards and post cards everytime he went abroad. He taught me a lot like a father. The end 2001, I received a card from him saying that he is afraid this card maybe his last card to me and saying that it is still his dream if Jesse can produce his product selling all over the world….and he will die without regret….

I was shocked and called my Japan Agent to check if he is ill or something happened and we arranged a visit to him immediately. My Agent told me that Mr. Nii is well for our visit the next week. My Agent Mr. Ochi of Park Trading was surprised to know that I am good friend of Mr. Nii. And he said that “now (2001) is the correct timing for the modern design like Nii Chair in Japan”. “It was too modern in the past for Japan market. Now everyone trying to carry Nii chair in Japan, but Mr. Nii refused to see anyone by saying ‘I am busy’”.  

At that time, my group facility was actually just updated to the modern technique – some even higher than that of Italy, So it was a right good timing for working on Ny products. I carried back a small round coffee table and immediately developed the technical design into four dining table and three coffee table of different size/shape for my Japan marketing through my Agent (Park Trading) selling in Japan modern furniture stores like (FRANC FRANC , which was then consulted by French furniture group HABITAT). And I carried back many NY chair series designs (NY Yang folding chair, NY New X folding chair, NY S arm chair, NY rocking chair) except the most famous NY X chair, NY X Rocking chair and Ottoman because NY family (his son) already doing it for the Japan market. I respected and was working only on the other items for Japan market since then. On every piece I sell, I have my computer recording and we send him royalty periodically. After he pass away, his wife said she was surprised that she continue receiving the royalty from me. Two years later, his son officially announced that Nii family will stop producing NY X chair and JES were authorized to produce them all to complete Ny product group in Taiwan production. I started to produce NY X chair and ottoman for Japan market since then. However, to answer your question, I need to admit that when we started to work with Mr. Nii, I once drafted a contract (to pay him royalty) for his review. But he said to my agent Mr. Ochi that it will be enough between him and Jesse by only the oath and no need a contract for that. I think he is a person of very open minded, that is why he never stop people producing his chair as long as they can make it in good quality value – not to ruin his reputation.

ny chair1Ny chair2