When Alex Florov madness and Hiroyuki Tokutomi's balanced asymmetry collide upon a single, exquisitely grained piece of briar, the results are bound to shake things up. From where I'm sitting, with this Florov-Tokutomi collaboration in hand, I'd judge the impact to be about on par in magnitude with that which created the vast Barringer Crater of Arizona. Fortunately, Tokutomi and Florov are efficient workers, and required only about four-and-half ounces of briar, brass, and vulcanite to achieve their intended effect, as opposed to a fifty-four yard wide ball of nickel and iron traveling at roughly twenty-eight thousand miles an hour. They displayed far greater patience as well, as instead of rushing things into a big, booming flash, the creation of this briar took a couple years from the start of the first design sketches to finish.
Considering just how complex and dramatic the numerous lines and planes of the final shape are, I suspect Tokutomi was mainly responsible for the foundational design elements, with Florov then building from there, sculpting his own intricate, stylistic flourishes. This would seem a rather fitting way to do things, as I have heard some of Alex's wilder freehand designs described as being akin to Tokutomi shapes, but subjected to Alex Florov's own unique, labor-intensive stylistic craziness.
And of course, at the end of the day, there's a rarity factor to consider here. Pipemakers of Tokutomi and Florov's caliber make up but a tiny minority of the artisans out there and active today, and while collaborative sets are produced between multiple pipemakers from time to time, collaboration on a single pipe is very uncommon - and between two like Alex and Hiroyuki, rarer than sightings of a clouded leopard strolling through Piccadilly Circus.
- Eric N. Squires