As Salone del Mobile (April 9-14) in Milan, Italy, approaches, some of Japan’s top designers are now releasing teasers for their contributions to the world’s largest interior and furniture fair. This month On: Design previews a few installations that look set to promote Japan’s industries in a show-stopping way.
Nendo: Daikin, Wonderglass
Air-conditioning manufacturing company Daikin has teamed up with Nendo, one of Japan’s design favorites, for “Breeze of Light” — an installation created to “visualize air.” Though there’s little information on how this will play out, Nendo has released curiosity-piquing video of a translucent asterisk-shaped flower that — perfectly balanced on a super-fine wire — casts delicate shifting shadows. Presumably, there will be a copious number of these objects, perhaps gently swaying in the airflow of Daikin technology.
You’ll have to visit the installation at Tenoha Milano to find out, but given Nendo’s renown for redefining minimalism with thoughtful and often subtly humorous works, it’s sure to be captivating.
Nendo is also showcasing its lineup of Melt glass furniture, a collaboration with Venetian company WonderGlass that was released earlier this year. Visitors to Istituto dei Ciechi will find a collection of ice-like chairs, tables and other items, all of which were handcrafted in Venice under the attentive eye of Nendo’s Oki Sato. To create the works, molten glass was poured into rectangular molds and hand-troweled flat into sheets, which were left to cool to a pliable state before being placed over curved molds. Guided by artisans, the glass sheets were allowed to naturally sink into or stretch over the molds to create the arched focal points of each piece of furniture.
Keita Suzuki: AGC
Also working with glass, Keita Suzuki of Product Design Center has collaborated with AGC, a leading Japanese manufacturer of glass, electronics, chemicals and ceramics that is also known for its advanced molding and 3D processing techniques.
Suzuki’s “Emergence of Form,” on display at Ventura Centrale, focuses on the capabilities of AGC’s glass molding technology and its trademarked Brightorb 3D-printer ceramic casting material. A series of five huge glass panels will dominate the space, with each one showing a different stage of a seemingly impossible dome being blown out from the center like a giant bubble. This striking presentation will be bookended by displays of ceramic panels, all 3D printed into undulating ripples and hand-glazed into a watery gloss by ceramicists. An effective presentation of AGC’s technical prowess, the ensemble is also an ode to the natural raw materials the company uses in its manufacturing business.
Tsuyoshi Tane: Union
Union, a handle maker with over 60 years of history, brings the work of architect Tsuyoshi Tane to Milan Salone, with a two-room installation at Via Tortona 32. Union has been producing custom-designed handles in metal, wood, glass, ceramic and even leather for architects since the 1960s, notably creating the decorative handles seen in hotels and up-scale buildings.
Tane’s work, “One Design — One Handle,” highlights sand mold casting, the oldest known form of casting that is still used by Union to make trial and small batches of handles. Every sand cast, which is destroyed after use, can produce just one item, making each piece unique. From images of Tane’s scale models, it looks like the venue, a former factory site, will be dramatically transformed with masses of gray casting sand and numerous podiums displaying an archive of handles and tools of the trade.
Shingo Abe and We+: Grand Seiko
Watchmakers Grand Seiko continues the temporal theme of its debut at Milan Salone last year with two works showcasing its Spring Drive watch mechanism at Via Manzoni. “Movement” by Shingo Abe will be a visual piece of atmospheric computer graphic imagery, while “Flux” by we+ will present a landscape of “special liquid” dotted with platforms showcasing Spring Drive components. According to the press release, subtle movements in the liquid will become visible as it dissipates light from overhead spotlights shifting across the platforms.
Last but definitely not least, Lexus, Toyota’s luxury vehicle brand, is pairing with innovative multimedia art/design collective Rhizomatiks, which is renowned for combining lasers, sensors, projection mapping and other electronic gadgetry in breathtaking interactive installations. A released video clip only reveals the use of dynamic beams of powerful lights for “Leading with Light” — but it’s Rhizomatiks, so it can’t possibly disappoint.