A photo of Yoshiharu Tsukamoto wearing a checkered blue and white button down collar shirt.
(Image credit: TBC)

Wallpaper* talks to Yoshiharu Tsukamoto of Tokyo-based Atelier Bow-Wow.

W*: What was your concept?

YT: The brief was “Beyond Architecture”, and I asked Aaron Betsky if I could do something about the concept of “at home” in the new, globalised world. I am always interested in furniture, and the arrangement of the human body in relation to furniture. Also I am very interested in the living environment, and the idea of enclosure.

W*: Do you think that the Japanese conditions are very different, than the American conditions in that respect?

YT: Of course they are. But it depends. I am interested in the living conditions, I always think about it, about the idea of openness and the inside/outside of living.

W*: Why did you design something mobile?

YT: This is a globalised world, people move a lot. All the time they are changing the place where they sleep, where they eat, etc and every time there is furniture around which supports them. And I think furniture always has to be very well thought out. Each city tries to be unique, tries to make different types of buildings, but inside the actual buildings things are more conservative. You always sit on a chair, you always sleep in a bed, so every time your body is supported by furniture, even if the conditions change every time. Hence my interpretation of the theme, as given by Aaron Betsky. I started to imagine some sort of furniture, which is also mobile. And because

W*: So does this move up and down the Arsenale?

YT: No, my initial proposal was to move this furniture from the beginning of the Arsenale to the end and back, which would be fun! But it couldn’t be done, because of practical reasons, so we were offered this space, to park it.

W*: It looks like a train.

YT: This is a kind of train – three carriages making a train-house in which you can change the arrangement of the furniture and move it around. For example the dining table is made by two joint parts, which can be separated.

W*: And is this notion of mobile modular structures, designed here in an exaggerated way, something to be developed in future projects?

YT: I am not sure. I think people like to stay in one place. In fact I think that in ten years, mobility will be less fashionable. In order to move you need to spend more oil, which means more energy, and from an environmental point of view, people will have to stop moving around the world in around 10 years. People will stay in one place, but of course still communicate in other ways.

W*: Within one defined space, is the idea of reconfiguring and transforming that space a quality that you’d like to have in your architecture?

YT: I don’t believe in that sort of universality. I prefer a kind of more specific, a local approach for each area of the planet. For example there are always people living close to the North Pole – it is very difficult to live there, but they still live there. They know how to do it, and they also know how to enjoy it.

W*: So you think we are not nomadic any more?

YT: Yes I think we are in certain respects, but I don’t want the world to become too nomadic.

W*: Is this a warning then, this project?

YT: Yes, this is my warning! (laughs)

W*: So is this how things shouldn’t happen in the future?

YT: No this is ok, because this piece is basically like a garden: a garden needs a keeper. If you want to have a garden, you have to stay there and look after it. The person that moves around cannot have a garden.

Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture & Environment Director at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018), Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020) and House London (2022).