AR_LAB SCHOOL-WORK PROJECT 2018: "JAPAN, TRADITION AND MODERNITY"

1984, Japan
From 1977 to the present, Arredaesse has developed and implemented projects of different types and genres all over the world; from Geneva, Jeddah, Rome, Alkobar, Austria to Los Angeles, Makkah, Panama, Riyadh, London, Paris, Moscow, Doha, Montecarlo and many others. Between 1984 and 1985 Arredaesse developed several projects in Japan in Tokyo and Kyoto; fascinating achievements given the differences between Japanese culture and tradition and those of the West.

The Japanese have an ancient cultural tradition and a highly significant history, despite perhaps not being as well-known as those of the West. This is because, until the end of the 800s, Japan was creating and living its history in separation from the rest of the world, closed off from the cultures of other nations. In the Nipponic culture there is no god credited with the creation of nature, because the divine originates with the phenomenal universe; thus blossoms their love for materials, which along with nature are clearly visible in their architecture and design. This strong connection with nature can be clearly seen when observing, for example, Japanese houses in which nature almost becomes a part of them. A feature of Japanese architecture is the lightness that echoes the Chinese Buddhist eras (numerous examples in Japan). The very layout of interior furnishings recalls a certain sense of lightness, emanating from the centre of the area and expanding towards the perimeter, although never perfectly defined as such, but open to the outside, towards the garden. Another feature of Japanese architecture is the repetition of modular elements such as for example the tatami (carpet whose size is used as a module in the design); the elements are built separately and then assembled together according to requirements. All this, together with the frequent choice of aromatic woods such as sandalwood or cedar, gives Japanese architecture, a very modern appearance, despite also reflecting millennia of tradition.

Suffice to say that in 1905 when Frank Lloyd Wright visited Japan, he was so impressed by the concept of the Japanese house, linked thus to nature, that his observations led to the conception of organic architecture; transfused with nature, whose prime example can be found in the design of his house, 'Fallingwater'. Japanese design is very different from that of the West: in the West it always originates from an ethical experience, with the intent to improve things and the aesthetic implications come later. In Japanese culture, on the other hand, aesthetics (which should be understood as harmony) are already present in nature and by creating a proper relationship with nature, an ethical solution is obtained automatically.

A peculiar characteristic of Japanese design is therefore that of producing objects, which are studied in the finest detail; aesthetically beautiful and with the inherent concepts of lightness, smallness and modularity being paramount. This taste for miniaturization has always existed in the Japanese culture and has greatly enhanced Japanese production in the microelectronic field; the advent of microelectronics is increasingly directed towards an almost two-dimensional rendering of objects; the fact of having always been dedicated to lightness and small dimensions has therefore facilitated Japanese designers in approaching this new conception of objects.

In terms of miniaturization, urban properties have over time become divided into smaller and smaller sites - especially following the 90s real estate crisis - only capable of accommodating minimal habitation housing units. This is how the commission-built micro-houses are created; tailor-made according to the needs of the individual or the family that will live there. Small spaces of minimal size, within which, thanks to meticulous design projects; maximum use of objects and multifunctional disappearing walls; more zones (living area, sleeping area, kitchenette, services) can be created, even in just 9 square meters.

The design of the Sol Levante [Rising Sun] translates as the simplicity of forms, the use of natural materials, but also an interior propensity to craftsmanship, art and life in general. From kimonos to lacquered food boxes, from fans to Raku ceramics, from classic pieces by Masters such as Shiro Kuramata and Sori Yanagi and not forgetting the contemporary and emerging designers; intoxicating parallels between past and present, between shapes and materials, in a play of irregularities and asymmetries, full and empty, topped-off by the "origami" pieces; the art of folding paper to create patterns and shapes of any genre and type. Art that is used as a source of inspiration in the design but also in art. Japanese art includes a vast range of styles and instruments of expression in addition to origami, especially ceramics, sculpture, painting and calligraphy on silk and paper, ukiyo woodblock prints and, more recently, the Manga comics and a myriad of other types of works of art. It has a history as long as the civilization of the Land of the Rising Sun, running from the beginnings of human settlements, around 10,000 BC, up to the present.

PROJECT OBJECTIVES

DESIGN

The project requested from the Interior Design students aims to combine modernity and tradition, elements that have always been present in the philosophy and corporate identity of Arredaesse, thus giving Japanese design and its variations the starring role. There are different contexts and types of furniture (design concepts related both to interior and exterior, from tables to chairs, from bookcases to lamps, to mirrors, to beds etc.).

SCENOGRAPHY

Scenography students are required to design a space that takes into account Japan's culture, customs and architecture; from the formal, functional, and material perspectives. If possible, research and find solutions with the ability to arouse sensory and extrasensory experiences, to focus attention on the projects and products that will be produced and exhibited in the AR_LAB space, thus creating an exhibition journey that will transport the visitor back to the essence of Japanese civilization.

FIGURATIVE ARTS

Alternatively, the Figurative Arts classes have been asked to develop and design ceramics, graphics or wallpaper in a style that forms a coherent backdrop to everything housed within the AR_LAB space.

ARCHITECTURE

The Architecture students will instead study and analyse a particular local building, or one designed by a Japanese architect, or a piece of work that is influenced and inspired by the culture of the Rising Sun.

AUDIOVISUAL

The Audiovisual and Multimedia students must, by means of a 10/15-minute video clip, follow and relate the progression of the entire project, from the beginning to its fulfilment, and the opening night of the new space. Furthermore, in addition to the film, they will have to design and develop wallpapers, starting from a photographic work using distinctive traits and details of natural elements, using the "chinogram"; namely chemical agents on photographic paper to recreate drawings, and finally assemble frames taken from Japanese films.

GRAPHICS

The Graphics students will study all the elements of the project that relate to publicizing the inaugural event and designing the invitations, using origami techniques.