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Each year, Collective Design, held from May 4-8 at Skylight Clarkson Square in New York, honors a living designer or studio, showcasing the work that has made a lasting impact on the design world. This year, the fair named the Tokyo-based firm nendo, founded in 2002 and known for works like Cabbage Chair (2008) and Scatter Shelf (2011), for its “Collective Influence” exhibition. We spoke with the Japanese design brand on what we can expect from the immersive installation they are creating.
WHITEWALL: What is the brief Collective Design gave you for the “Collective Influence 2016” installation, and how did you respond to it?
NENDO: We were asked to design not only the exhibition area but also the entrance space of Collective Design, so we came up with the design idea for both, showcasing our new collection and a way to welcome guests inside.
WW: Are there points of consideration for you when creating a design installation within a fair setting?
N: We think it is important to make guests visiting the fair feel comfortable. Collective Design is not just our work, but showcases work by designers from a range of galleries. So, we wanted to do something that would support everyone by our design.
WW: The concept behind nendo is to create “!” moments, felt intuitively. How does the immersive installation you’ve come up with for this exhibition create that “!” moment?
N: There are so many “!” moments hidden in our everyday life, that we feel unconsciously but we don’t recognize. In other words, we think it is very important when we design, to transmit something that is very uncommon.
WW: You’ll be exploring, in a new way, the interplay of lighting and objects. How so?
N: Within the space where we live, there are items that “move.” They are furniture, doors and windows—items that move in relation to our daily activities. Although they may not be visible, we are subconsciously aware of the “traces” of their movements every day. For example, because of that, we do not put a vase in front of a door. It is essential for a person who specializes in space design to be even more aware of this, as they have to portray these “traces” onto drawings. In the same manner, by visualizing such “traces” in space, the various movements of a door attached to a simple cabinet is implied. Other “traces” that were chosen were the “trace” of a hanging light bulb swinging left and right, and the ”trace” of a beam of light that is projected from lighting. A reception counter that indicates the “trace” of a door opening was shown like a frame-by-frame advance feature. A new relationship between items and human beings is being pursued through the visualization of the numerous “traces” that we feel within our everyday lives.
WW: This is your first U.S. exhibition since showing Scatter Shelf in 2011 at Friedman Benda. Are you excited about showing again in New York?
N: Yes, we are really excited. We were talking with Marc Benda right after we finished our exhibition in 2011 for the next conception, and we’re so glad it became possible at last. After this, we are going to present “50 manga chairs”—continuing from Milan Design Week, this September. We’re excited to show them in New York. We showed Cabbage Chair in 2009 at Friedman Benda gallery and it made us get to where we are now. In other words, New York is the starting point of nendo and we cannot but feel at home.
Collective Design takes place May 4-8 at Skylight Clarkson Square in New York.