A poetic connection: Nendo's mammoth retrospective at Design Museum Holon

A retrospective of Nendo's ten-year body of work opens at Design Museum Holon. Curated by Maria Cristina Didero, the show is an almost scientific investigation of the designer’s processes, imagination, shapes and materials, and how they all intrinsically connect
A retrospective of Nendo's ten-year body of work opens at Design Museum Holon. Curated by Maria Cristina Didero, the show is an almost scientific investigation of the designer’s processes, imagination, shapes and materials, and how they all intrinsically connect
(Image credit: Takumi Ota)

Sushi and a bonsai plant. These are the metaphorical comparisons Nendo's founder Oki Sato makes of his studio's style of design. Design that can produce 100 pieces a year, and simultaneously work on 400 at the same time. Design that astonishes the rest of the industry, with its ability to maintain an impeccable level of purity and hurl out product after product. 'I place a lot of importance on the freshness of the ideas.' He reveals, in his comparison to sushi, 'I try to work quickly, shaping the fish before the heat of my own body is transferred over to it.'

It comes as no surprise that someone was soon going to suggest the idea of a retrospective for the Japanese inventor, but for such a young brand that formed just over ten years ago, it is still quite a feat. The show follows on from the year survey of the studio's work at Salone del Mobile in 2015, and the mesmerising triumph of this year’s the 'Light and Shadow' marble exhibition with Marsotto Edizioni in Milan. It is quite fitting that what comes next is a question of what is between these opposites, in-between the conveyer belt of products, in-between the personal and professional life of Oki Sato and Nendo design.

Housed in the Ron Arad-designed Design Museum Holon in Tel Aviv that just celebrated its fifth anniversary, ‘The Space in Between’ is pulled together by curator Maria Cristina Didero as an almost scientific investigation of the designer’s processes, imagination, shapes and materials, and how they all intrinsically connect. The exhibition opens with a new site-specific piece that brings together the wares of Glas Italia and Caesarstone, titled 'In the shade'. Located within the rusted steel ribs of the Holon's atrium, the contrasting sheets of material cajole with shade and lighting. This tactically introduces us to a running theme with the show's subtleties. ‘Japanese designers really try to look into light and shadow, rather than colours,’ Sato explains.

Following this is the mighty plethora of designs across two floors of the impressive edifice, kindly categorised by Didero into six divisions of 'Between': 'Textures', 'Objects', 'Relationships', 'Boundaries', 'Senses' and 'Processes.'

The research starts on the lower ground floor with an array of 12 unique Nendo chairs, each piece from a different category. Every seat shows his abstract, slightly fairy-tale like versions of an everyday product, from the ‘Fadeout’ chair that blends wood and glass to the ‘Diamond’ chair that looks more like an atomic structure than a chair.

The upper floor is host to the rest of the 74 designs, each arranged in bright white boxes, allowing the different forms to stand out. Here the show travels from the ‘Processes’ section, which highlights the studio's delicate side in the intricacy of the patchwork glass for Lasvit all the way to the ‘Objects’ section that contains the compact emergency aid kit for natural disasters 'MINIM+AID'.

This epic leap from one panache to another continues, whether its is a USB stick paper clip for Elecom that they created with Italian designer Luca Nichetto, or geometric chocolates for Maison&Objet Paris, their elegance is maintained. 'It is possible to find a balance between industry and poetry,' Sato explains, 'I call it the balance between the right brain and the left brain.'

Witnessing such masterpieces bound together, we are also invited into Sato's personal self, which is imbued in every piece. 'Design is part of my everyday life, like breathing or sleeping,' he tells Didero, 'I think that the day I begin to consider design as work will be my final day as a designer.’ We certainly hope that day never comes.

The exhibition opens with a new site-specific installation piece that brings together the wares of Glas Italia and Caesarstone titled ‘In the shade'

The exhibition opens with a new site-specific installation piece that brings together the wares of Glas Italia and Caesarstone titled ‘In the shade'

(Image credit: Takumi Ota)

The show is divided by Didero into six divisions of 'Between': 'Textures', 'Objects', 'Relationships', 'Boundaries', 'Senses' and 'Processes'

The show is divided by Didero into six divisions of 'Between': 'Textures', 'Objects', 'Relationships', 'Boundaries', 'Senses' and 'Processes'

(Image credit: Takumi Ota)

The research starts on the lower ground floor with an array of 12 unique Nendo chairs, each piece from a different category. Every seat shows his abstract versions of an everyday product

The research starts on the lower ground floor with an array of 12 unique Nendo chairs, each piece from a different category. Every seat shows his abstract versions of an everyday product

(Image credit: Takumi Ota)

'Japanese designers really try to look into light and shadow, rather than colours,’ Sato explains. Pictured: Rain Bottle for 'Trend Exhibition' at Maison&Objet Paris, 2014, in the 'Between Senses' category

'Japanese designers really try to look into light and shadow, rather than colours,’ Sato explains. Pictured: Rain Bottle for 'Trend Exhibition' at Maison&Objet Paris, 2014, in the 'Between Senses' category

(Image credit: Takumi Ota)

The upper floor is host to the rest of the 74 designs, each arranged in bright white boxes, leaping from one panache to another yet maintaining the Nendo elegance

The upper floor is host to the rest of the 74 designs, each arranged in bright white boxes, leaping from one panache to another yet maintaining the Nendo elegance

(Image credit: Takumi Ota)

Featured in the 'Processes' section is the 'Farming-net' lamp for Carpenters Workshop Gallery, Paris, 2012. The piece was sculpted by heat-forming, agricultural ne

Featured in the 'Processes' section is the 'Farming-net' lamp for Carpenters Workshop Gallery, Paris, 2012. The piece was sculpted by heat-forming, agricultural ne

(Image credit: Takumi Ota)

'It is possible to find a balance between industry and poetry,' Sato explains, 'I call it the balance between the right brain and the left brain'

'It is possible to find a balance between industry and poetry,' Sato explains, 'I call it the balance between the right brain and the left brain'

(Image credit: Takumi Ota)

The 'Senses' section also includes the ceramic 'Pyggy-bank' for Isetan, 2010 and 'Bottleware' that uses the Coca-Cola bottle glasses, made in 2012

The 'Senses' section also includes the ceramic 'Pyggy-bank' for Isetan, 2010 and 'Bottleware' that uses the Coca-Cola bottle glasses, made in 2012

(Image credit: Takumi Ota)

'Design is part of my everyday life, like breathing or sleeping, I think that the day I begin to consider design as work will be my final day as a designer’

(Image credit: Takumi Ota)

INFORMATION

'Nendo: The Space in Between' is on view until 29 October at Design Museum Holon, for more information, visit the museums's website.

Photography: Takumi Ota

ADDRESS

Pinhas Eilon St. 8 Holon
5845400
Israel

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