Bearable lightness and other thoughts on nendo on the occasion of ‘Static Bubbles’, Carpenters Workshop Gallery, Paris, January 2012.
This year, Tokyo-based design firm nendo is celebrating its tenth anniversary by doing what nendo does best: quietly but surely going about their work. This may not sound like a way to mark a successful decade, but the fruits of nendo’s labour were anything but ordinary. For nendo, simply ‘getting things done’ means a bevy of significant exhibitions this year and last, including a retrospective at flagship Tokyo design space Axis Gallery, museum acquisitions (the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago), new products for Milan, a major Canadian museum exhibition design and interiors in Japan, China, Italy and the UK. All of these are testing the firm’s distinctive sensibility in new areas, against new constraints.
In other words, nendo is doing something exciting, and the world is taking note. But would you know this from founder Sato Oki and team’s quiet demeanour, or from the deceptive simplicity of their work ? Perhaps not, but again, that is entirely the point. It is this combination of thoughtfulness and caprice, hidden within minimalism of form and an unusual attention to process and detail, that make nendo what they are, and that characterizes the new work shown here at Carpenters Workshop Gallery.
Based in Tokyo and Milan, Nendo is the name of the studio founded by Oki Sato. Born in Canada in 1977, he earned an architecture degree from Waseda University in Tokyo in 2002. The studio has created many award-winning products and its conceptual designs have been produced by Cappellini, Guzzini, Oluce, Tod’s, Cartier, Puma, Camper, Starbucks, Lexus, and BoConcept.
He is known for The Cabbage Chair, an answer to the challenge posed by fashion designer Issey Miyake to create a futuristic object that would convey how man will live in the twenty-first century. Handcrafted from the folded paper rolls used in Miyake’s own pleat-making process, the chair makes use of a product that would otherwise be thrown away. The chair is part of the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Les Arts Décoratifs museum in Paris. It was also included in the inaugural exhibition at the Design Museum Holon in Tel Aviv in fall 2009.
The studio has received many awards, including the Good Design Award, the German Design Award, and the Elle Deco International Design Award. In 2012, it was named designer of the year by Wallpaper* magazine. Sato has participated in Milan Design Week and created a Rain Bottle installation at Maison & Objet 2014.