Joining threads of past, present and future of 'kumihimo' at Japan House London
by STIRworldMar 25, 2023
•make your fridays matter with a well-read weekend
by Sunena V MajuPublished on : May 02, 2023
Led by human experience rather than any fixed dogma, Thomas Heatherwick's United Kingdom-based Heatherwick Studio is known for creating emotionally compelling places and objects with the smallest possible climate shadow. For the first time, the studio is presenting a solo exhibition in Japan at Tokyo City View. Titled, Building Soulfulness, the exhibition features 28 of the studio’s most iconic designs, including a full-scale model of Airo, the car that cleans the air as it drives, London’s re-designed double-decker bus and LiOle Island, a 'floating' public park in New York City. The show was curated by Mami Kataoka, formerly the International Curator of the Hayward Gallery in London and organised by the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo.
Across the six main sections of the exhibition, visitors encounter the chance to probe into the creative approach and process of the studio. The message communicated through this exchange of knowledge is the studio’s belief that no matter what the scale or budget, each design can have a human scale, embrace the natural world and connect with the environment around it. The visitors enter from the Opening section and are greeted with the full-scale part of the Routemaster bus, a model of Airo, and a sample table of more than 45 objects showcasing the diversity of the studio’s process. Coming Together, which is Section one shows how many of the studio’s projects are made of smaller parts coming together to create a surprisingly holistic bigger picture. The bronze petals from the London 2012 Olympic Cauldron and a model of the Tree of Trees will showcase how the unexpected experience of coming together of parts can evoke delight.
Section two, Connection with Everyone, showcases projects that craft opportunities for togetherness, and a connection with natural light and air. A series of models showcasing the evolution of the concept for the Maggie’s Centre in Leeds and the Nanyang Technological University Learning Hub is also a part of this section. Section three, Experiencing Sculptural Space brings forth sculptures designed for spatial experiences. Along with the 1:10 prototype of the Paternoster vents, the visitors will also get a glimpse of the model of the upcoming Hainan Performing Arts Centre, for the first time.
Feeling Nature in Urban Space is the fourth Section with designs that incorporate trees and nature into urban settings. A wood and metal model of a pergola structure deployed throughout the soon-to-open Azabudai Hills development is displayed here along with a LED lit-up presentation model of the full Tian’an 1000 Trees scheme. Section five, Bringing Memories to the Future, displays how the studio carries memories of buildings that have outlived their original function and incorporates them into current designs. Visitors witness a cardboard model of the silos of Zeitz MOCAA, cut out to incorporate art galleries, as well as a model of the Parnham House window previously shown at the Royal Academy Summer Show 2022. Section six, Playing and Using, showcases projects that have a playful streak to them such as the studio’s Christmas cards and expandable furniture.
Talking about the exhibition, Heatherwick said, “Over the last three decades, my team and I have been passionately trying to create impactful, relatable projects that make our lives more meaningful and joyful. It’s now thrilling to be able to showcase such a vast collection of our work in Japan, where respect for design thinking and craftsmanship is unrivalled. I hope visitors will leave the show feeling like their emotions have not just been respected, but were an essential part of our thinking and fascination.”
"Experiencing the true scale of architecture in an art gallery is not easy. For Building Soulfulness I have looked for ways to showcase the essential philosophy and spirit of Heatherwick Studio’s design by providing six distinct perspectives. The sets designed by the Studio, combined with the grand Tokyo cityscape seen from the Tokyo City View observation deck, will immensely enhance the viewers' exhibition experience. It is my sincere hope that the show would speak to everyone’s soul," shared Mami Kataoka, the director of the Mori Art Museum and curator of the exhibition.
The design exhibition, Building Soulfulness, is on display until June 4, 2023, at the Tokyo City View in Japan.
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