Daniel Arsham interprets Nendo’s designs in new collaboration

‘Break to Make’ at Milan Design Week 2023 features new interpretations of Nendo designs by American artist Daniel Arsham

Daniel Arsham nendo portrait with white sofa
Nendo's Oki Sato and Daniel Arsham
(Image credit: Masahiro Ohgami and Katsuaki Kobayashi)

An artist who creates by breaking, and a designer who creates things to be broken: American artist Daniel Arsham and Oki Sato of Japanese design firm Nendo have engaged in a dialogue spanning over four years, culminating in their latest collaboration titled 'Break to Make', debuting at Milan Design Week 2023

Their collection of works transcends the boundaries between art and design, showcasing each designer's specific yet uniquely poetic approach to materials and form. Nendo's minimalist and precise forms are given new life by Arsham, who deconstructs and transforms them into functional and playful works, each piece telling a unique story of destruction and rebirth. 

This intersection of two opposite perspectives is a hallmark of the collaboration. Arsham's expression of present objects as past artifacts is counterbalanced by Nendo's ability to create present objects that anticipate the future. The resulting works invite viewers to look beyond the surface and embrace the beauty of transformation.

Daniel Arsham Nendo T Shirt

A T-shirt featuring cartoon versions of Daniel Arsham and Oki Sato creating their collaborative designs

(Image credit: Courtesy Nendo)

Nendo's streamlined designs are reinterpreted by Arsham through his unique 'eroded' approach: 'After we create objects with no intended use, Daniel creates new functions by breaking them,' says Sato. For instance, Arsham hammers a bathtub into a love seat, or carves a bench from a narrow block. '[We are] an artist who expresses present objects as past artifacts, and a designer who makes present objects that anticipate the future. The collaboration may be seen as an overlay of these two contrary perspectives,' adds Sato.

The special installation, staged at Nendo's Milan office, provides a unique opportunity for visitors to witness first-hand the synergy between these two creative forces. 'Break to Make' is a poetic and harmonious exhibition resulting from the collision of different disciplines, transcending our preconceived notions of time and space. A series of customised items, such as T-Shirts and keychains, are available to be purchased on site. Don’t miss the short cartoon series with the two characters, Oki and Daniel, building and breaking things.

Break to Make is on view 18-23 April 2023, reserve a ticket here

Via Pinamonte da Vimercate 4

Break to Make T-shirts, caps, and keychains are available on Nendo's online shop

Maria Cristina Didero is an independent design curator, consultant and author, who has contributed to many publications over the years. Didero has consulted for companies such as Vitra, Fritz Hansen, Lexus, Fendi, Louis Vuitton, Valextra among others. Based in Milan, she works internationally, curating exhibitions for institutions: some of her most recent projects include Nendo: The Space in Between and The Conversation Show at the Holon Design Museum, Israel; FUN HOUSE by Snarkitecture at National Building Museum, Washington D.C.; SuperDesign a project about Italian radical design, NY; Vegan Design, or the Art of Reduction by Erez Nevi and The Fish and The Crowd by Carlo Massoud, Milan. In April 2022 she curated a Mathieu Lehanneur exhibition at the Triennale in Milan called The Inventory of Life, while in July she debuted a project at the MK&G in Hamburg titled Ask Me if I Believe in the Future, alongside a series of ongoing collaborations. She was appointed 2022 Curatorial Director of Design Miami/. She is currently preparing two projects for Milan Design Week 2023.