Kengo Kuma (Japan), Kazuyo Sejima (Japan)

Mission and materiality

Kazuyo Sejima bends structural materials such as glass and steel into interior and exterior walls that house particular activities. From shopping at Prada to dining with guests on a home veranda, she seems inspired by the activities of a place. As she describes some of the process and consideration of international cultural projects, she brings life to hand-drawn art students sitting in a hallway peeking into the studios of musicians. Curators of the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art Kanazawa arrange an exhibition hall as one, two, three or more separate galleries.
Before showing examples of his own work, Kengo Kuma framed an architectural context by surveying digital designs since 1990. The "Blob Architecture" emerges from forms that can only be generated on a computer, such as Franko. Gehry's Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. In his own architecture, Kuma twists walls to become floors and flips floors to become ceilings. The reaction to this digital design direction begins around 1995 with a celebration on materialality. Building materials are used for both their communicative potential as well as their emotive qualities. The emphasis is on spaces experienced by a person but not easily described by a computer. Kuma shares examples of his work: a building hidden beneath a mountain, a small exhibit space made of blocks, an entire building made of bamboo.
The two architects concluded the session with discussions on architectural photography, the quality of materials and the phenomena of experiencing architecture. (TW)

Neville Brody (UK)

Welcome the Chaos

Neville Brody took the stage, calmly describing his beautiful and highly conceptual design and philosophy, through thoughtful examples of his work. No matter how well we are prepared, something will go wrong-chaos- and that we should embrace. Similarly to Stefan Sagmeister, Brody attempted to define design, which he also referred to as art. "We [as designers] could be artists but instead we chose to work in design". Designers have a great distribution system inherent in consumerism in which to spread their beliefs or expressions, especially in America. Design work can be interpreted in many ways as designers work in ambiguity with imprecise and incomplete solutions. The viewer completes the process depending on his or her social and cultural background. Similarly, language is an incomplete code between people. Words may be shared, but not the full language. Brody's work creates a space in which to share. Brody ended the conversation on context. Today it is critical to question design. We can only do so by understanding the context in which design exists. As the grid of Western culture spreads we need to better understand ourselves and our work. We need to become better receivers rather than broadcasters.(RZ)

Christopher Mount (USA), Kazumasa Nagai (Japan), Tadanori Yokoo (Japan), Masuteru Aoba (Japan)

The art of the poster

This dialogue featured Christopher Mount (USA), Kazumasa Nagai (Japan), Tadanori Yokoo (Japan), and MasuteruAoba (Japan). This lively group reviewed some of the most influential poster designers in Japan. Christopher Mount wished to provide "an outsider's view". The other three speakers are all powerful poster designers. They discussed the big names in Japanese poster design from the grandfather of the genre, Yusaku Kamekura, to the youngest, Makoto Saito.
They began with Yusaku Kamekura, showing the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games posters, and the famous 1983 Hiroshima Appeals poster. Apparently, Kamekura had a love of skiing. Next in the chronological survey came Ikko Tanaka. Sadly, he has passed away, but not before he left a considerable mark on poster design in Japan. Yoshio Hayakawa was another remarkable Japanese poster designer remembered for richness of coulor vocabulary. Kazumasa Nagai critiqued his own work next, speaking about the meaning behind some of his more abstract symbolism.
Mitsuo Katsui's posters display "oriental mystery" which Yokoo says never fails to befuddle Western viewers. Shigeo Fukuda's unusual sense of humor and strong opinions set him apart from other poster designers, as with the "Victory" poster. Tadanori Yokoo declined to speak about his own work, asking instead that you feel and see it. Christopher Mount, however, took the challenge and gave a statement about Yokoo's use of symbolism and modernism. Keisuke Nagatomo was known for his poster for the French book, The Little Prince, as well as for a number of other posters including "The Assassinators".
Masuteru Aoba spoke about his work, showing us works like "The Real Weight of Peace" and "All Flesh is Grass". Shin Matsunaga made the everyday object rise to greatness in his posters, like the Shiseido Sun Oil poster. Koichi Sato is said to have cornered the market on gradients with his ethereal posters. Masatoshi Toda's posters showcase unusual photography with minimal but elegant design. And finally, Makoto Saito, a designer who makes whatever he pleases, all of it beautiful. Nearly all these designers aredetailed in the book "12 Japanese Masters" (cover by Ikko Tanaka), which can be found in the conference book shop. Together these designers prove that truly, "The Japanese people have eyes for beauty".(NR)

Makoto Saito (Japan)

Following your heart

Makoto Saito has a solo performance in this lecture, "Earth-Shattering Graphic Design". He is a contemporary graphic designer who followed an interesting path to Graphic Design, which he tell us about in this talk. He began his career in the world of Art and Design intending to be a painter. During his education, he ran across a photograph of the research laboratory of the Bauhaus, and for some reason this very much struck his fancy. He decided to learn about design. Saito figured that design was most alive in big cities and industrial countries, so he decided to move to Tokyo and go to the Nippon Design Center. He was not accepted, however, so he took up teaching himself, while working for the Advertising/PR department of a supermarket. From the beginning he felt very much apart from the world of Design, but relished not compromising his beliefs for money or popularity. Eventually, he was able to convince Kazumasa Nagai to allow him into the Nippon Design Center where he would meet his future client, president of Alpha Cubic. He fought not to become a part of consumerism while making a living. Saito then showed us slides of his work, telling us about each. He concluded that designers should not give up their beliefs, always staying open to new things and never ceasing to study and learn and grow.(NR)

Writer:Kosuke Ikehata/Norimitsu Korekata/Junko Sakamoto/Nobuko Shimuta/Naoko Hasegawa/Osamu Hisanaga/Sakurako Muto/Naho Yoshioka/Helmut Langer/Maggie Hohle/Nicole Rechia/Trysh Wahlig/Gitte Waldman/Robert Zolna
Photographer:Yoshimitsu Asai/Yasuhiko Katsuta/Fumihiko Mizutani