Thursday, 9 May 2013

Nendo Exhibition: Glassworks at Dilmos Gallery in Milan


 Designer Oki Sato of Japanese studio Nendo talks about his new Deep Sea cabinets presented at Dilmos gallery during Milan Design Week
Milanese design gallery Dilmos held an exhibition of glass by award-winning Japanese studio Nendo during the Salone del Mobile, Jeanne-Marie Cilento writes. Additional reporting by Nicolas James. Photographs by Solange Souza, Joakim Blockstrom & Ambrosio De Lauro.

CALLED Glassworks, Nendo’s chief designer Oki Sato wanted to create a show about rethinking traditional uses for glass. Dilmos’ all-white gallery located in Pizza San Marco provided a minimalist background to Nendo’s spare exhibition. 

Sato first opened an office in Milan in 2005 after founding Nendo in 2002 in Tokyo. The multi-disciplinary practice includes architecture, furniture, interiors plus industrial and graphic design. Last year, Nendo was chosen as Designer of the Year by Wallpaper Magazine and received the Elle Decoration International Design Award.

Sato showed the process of making and decorating Baccarat glass and how Coca-Cola bottles can be reused to create other glass products at the Dilmos show. He also designed the new Patchwork vases for Lasvit as a collection in Bohemian glass. It combines the cut glass techniques particular to Bohemian glass with the production methods for creating sheet glass. "We reheated a variety of objects already decorated with traditional cut glass patterns, then sliced them open and re-attached them to each other to create one large object,’’ Sato explains.  “As a way of making, the process was like sewing together animal hides, or piecing together small fragments of cloth to create a great patchwork quilt."

The most alluring if hard-edged pieces in the exhibition were the Deep Sea tables using different gradients of blue glass. Designed for Glas Italia, the collection is composed of a low table and shelving. "It's possible to colour glass by melting a layer of transparent coloured film onto the surface,’’ says Sato. “We decided to deepen the shade of each successive glass sheet by slightly changing the combination and number of layers for each one. The viewer is drawn into the depths of transparency and colour, as though gazing at the surface of the sea. We also progressively narrowed the space between the shelves and combined them with a mirror to further emphasise the colour gradations. The result was furniture with depth and transparency from any angle."

A less successful project for Glas Italia are Nendo’s Mirror chair and Mirror stool console made of tempered and silvered glass 10 mm thick. Evanescent in shape and colour ~ the piece is not particularly functional and the design doesn’t appear fully resolved. A contemporary interpretation of a dressing table, it has a cartoony two dimensional look combining a mirror and a chair in one piece of furniture with frosted gradations showing the unlikely fusion of the two elements. The chair could be used as a ledge for objects as well as an (uncomfortable) seat. The piece comes in two designs: a large mirror and chair and a small mirror with a high stool.

Nendo’s collection called Bottleware for Coca Cola is made up of recycled glass bowls and dishes. Coke’s contoured bottle has been symbolic of the company since 1916 and Nendo’s tableware collection is made from bottles that have deteriorated over the course of recycling and can no longer be re-used for their original purpose. "We were captivated by the particular green tint known as “Georgia Green” and by the fine air bubbles and distortions that are a hallmark of recycled glass," says Sato. “So we decided to create simple shapes that would enhance these traits. But we also wanted users to feel a remnant of the distinctive bottle in the new products.

“Our solution was to create bowls and dishes that retain its distinctive shape, as though the top had been sliced off. The dimpling on the bottle base is not ordinarily a strong visual feature, but it's a particular characteristic of glass bottles and visible to anyone who picks up the bottle to drink. Keeping these ring-shaped dimples on the base of our bowls and plates also helps to convey important messages about the way that glass circulates between people as it's made, used and recycled for further use."

Nendo’s project for Baccarat called Harcourt Ice is a collection of crystal glasses for the French luxury brand which has been making crystal since 1764.  "For our redesign of the company's signature Harcourt line, we wanted to highlight a new facet of the beauty of glass by creating an edge like beautifully frozen ice, then 'melting' it,” Sato explains. “The company's skilled craftsmen smoothed the edges by melting the surface of the finished Harcourt glasses by dipping them into the acid ordinarily used in the final stages of the polishing process. The soft feel and distinctive light refraction of the melted edges closely resemble those of ice that has begun to melt. The image of hard ice gradually dissolving into free-flowing water, as though capturing one moment in time, represents the company's graceful movement between tradition and innovation."

Nendo also created a storage unit with doors made of transparent disk-shaped glass sheets. Called the Rotating Glass Shelf, the shelves are made of birch with disks in blown glass. “Our design derives from the historical practice of cutting sheet glass from glass discs,’’ Sato says. “We thought that the faint swells and depressions that result from the artisanal handmade practise would gently warp the things placed on the shelves behind the glass. The holes in the centre become finger-sized handles to roll the discs left and right."

Lastly, Nendo created a mosaic glass table for Italian company Bisazza. The table has a metal structure with a glass top made from mosaic tiles. "We applied transparent mosaic tiles to the tabletop,'' Oki Sato says. "While colourfulness is ordinarily the defining feature of mosaic tiles, by removing this distinctive characteristic we brought out their texture, re-emphasising their materiality as glass."

Click on photographs for full-screen slideshow
The Deep Sea low tables with gradations of blue designed by Nendo for Glas Italia. "It's possible to colour glass by melting a layer of transparent coloured film onto the surface,’’ says Sato. “We decided to deepen the shade of each successive glass sheet by slightly changing the combination and number of layers for each one. The viewer is drawn into the depths of transparency and colour, as though gazing at the surface of the sea."




The Glas Italia tables and shelves in varying shades photographed at the opening of the Nendo show during Milan's Salone del Mobile



 Journalists and designers gather to look at the new designs for the Patchwork Glass collection created by Oki Sato for Lasvit

Drawings showing the various traditional patterns of Bohemian glass that Nendo transformed for Lasvit

The Bohemian glass bowls on display showing Nendo's process of creating the new Patchwork vases collection

A close-up showing the different patterns of Bohemian glass used for the new Patchwork vases."We reheated a variety of objects already decorated with traditional cut glass patterns, then sliced them open and re-attached them to each other to create one large object,’’ Sato explains.  “As a way of making, the process was like sewing together animal hides, or piecing together small fragments of cloth to create a great patchwork quilt."
Nendo's new Rotating Glass Shelf made of birch and disks of coloured glass that form transparent round "doors" with the central holes as handles. “Our design derives from the historical practice of cutting sheet glass from glass discs,’’ Sato says. “We thought that the faint swells and depressions that result from the artisanal handmade practice would gently warp the things placed on the shelves behind the glass."
Designer Oki Sato contemplates the Mirror Console and Seat designed for Glas Italia


 The Mirror Console and Seat made in tempered glass that has a cartoony two dimensional look 

The new pieces for Baccarat by Nendo that reinterprets their classic glasses for the Harcourt Ice collection
 The new wine glass with the "melting ice" effect Oki Sato wanted to create for Baccarat. "For our redesign of the company's signature Harcourt line, we wanted to highlight a new facet of the beauty of glass by creating an edge like beautifully frozen ice, then 'melting' it,” Sato explains. 
Nendo designed this table for Italian company Bisazza made of glass mosaic tiles on a metal structure

"We applied transparent mosaic tiles to the glass tabletop and while colourfulness is ordinarily the defining feature of mosaic tiles by removing this distinctive characteristic we brought out their texture, emphasising their materiality as glass," explains Oki Sato.
The new Bottleware collection designed for Coca Cola. "We were captivated by the particular green tint known as “Georgia Green” and by the fine air bubbles and distortions that are a hallmark of recycled glass," says Sato. “So we decided to create simple shapes that would enhance these traits."
"Our solution was to create bowls and dishes that retain its distinctive shape, as though the top had been sliced off," Sato says of the Bottleware collection for Coca Cola. "The dimpling on the bottle base is not ordinarily a strong visual feature, but it's a particular characteristic of glass bottles and visible to anyone who picks up the bottle to drink."

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