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The 58th edition of Salone del Mobile.Milano came to a close on April 14, but before it did, new products and collections from design brands from all over the world emulated the fair. A special highlight was Issey Miyake’s presentation—“Journey of a Raindrop: The strange attraction of water,” presented by Dutch designer Jólan van der wiel. The project, positioned within the store, consisted of installations that use water and air, inspired by different shapes that a raindrop experiences throughout its lifetime. The delicate structures, mot of which are transparent, joined craftsmanship and wonderment for a dynamic presentation that recalls the many stages of a raindrop’s journey.
Whitewall spoke with the artist to learn more about his presentation, and how nature and natural elements fuel his creative process.
WHITEWALL: Tell us a bit about your installation for Issey Miyake.
JÓLAN VAN DER WIEL: Issey Miyake approached me after doing research about what designer would fit this occasion.
If you enter the Issey Miyake store you will find all kind of structures of transparent tubes where you will see water drops and air. They are moving through the structures as if they are not affected by gravity.
I wanted to create an effect as if water is flying through the Issey Miyake Building in Milan. As if there is a different gravity field than usual. To make this happen, I developed a technique of transparent tubes where there is less pressure. Then we have water and air going through the tubes. It’s one circulation per installation. Everything is connected. For the biggest installation, we used 500 meters of tubes. There is very little power needed to bring this line of water drops and air into circulation.
After seeing the installation, I hope spectators will have a fascination for the natural elements water and air. Relax feeling. A joy of creation. A positive view of the future.
WW: As an artist, you draw inspiration from nature, but here, you’re incorporating it into your design. Can you tell us a bit about your creative process behind this?
JVDW: I am interested in visualizing natural forces within our daily environment. By developing techniques that can involve real natural elements, we are able to embrace these natural elements within our interiors and architecture.
For this occasion, we decided water and air would be the right materials to work with. They are very diverse materials and can be shaped in many different ways, like a textile.
I love the old story of “the Journey a Raindrop” is an effective way to make a huge topic small and personal. Think about the life of a single drop. It’s traveling all over the world, meets many cultures and many natural forces. Also, it meets friends like other drops and becomes one with them to turn into something else like a river.
We all need water. It can be beautiful, but also devastating.
WW: What was it about the journey of a raindrop that you wanted to showcase?
JVDW: By giving one single drop a personality, you will probably be fascinated by the drop and after that also the other drops. After seeing the installations, you will go outside and meet his friends when it’s raining. And maybe you will feel more connected with them and the natural environment around us. So, the drop is a way to tell the bigger story of a world in which we have much more respect for our natural origins and surroundings and that we start collaborating and integrating natural elements more and more into our daily lives.
I like to see a space as an environment with a specific mixture of natural forces. For example, how much gravity there is.
WW: Tell us a bit about your collaborative design practice, and working with unusual shapes and materials. What do you aim to produce?
JVDW: Because we wanted to make such specific shapes, I wanted to work with the enormous beautiful green discs in store. I could see them as the source of life. They are the attractors within this environment. That means object should be attracted by those discs. I liked the idea of playing with gravity and developed a technique where the gravity doesn’t have too much effect on the water and air within the installation. The tubes we use are vacuum closed, so the drops move freely through the space.
Also, there is another layer within the title. Water has something attracting. but it can also be devastating. We have a love and sometimes hate relation with it. I like that contradiction.