Nendo Takes Over MADProjects Gallery

Nendo Takes Over MADProjects Gallery

By William Lamb
Starting this week, New York’s Museum of Arts and Design will cede control of its second-floor MADProjects Gallery to Nendo, a Tokyo-based studio known for its clever, subversive updates to traditional design concepts.

Ghost Stories: New Designs from Nendo collects four new designs, along with prototypes and videos.

The "Fade-Out" chair, a simple rectangular chair made from clear acrylic and painted with trompe l’oeil wood grain over most of the structure. The pattern fades away on the lower part of the chair legs to create the impression that the chairs are floating in space. Image courtesy Masayuki Hayashi.

“Cord-Chair” is a super thin wooden side chair that appears flimsy and breakable, yet is sturdy and indefinitely strong thanks to its hidden aluminum skeleton. Image courtesy Yoneo Kawabe.

Left: The "Fade-Out" chair has a wood-grain finish that fades out as its legs reach the floor, giving the impression that the chair floats. Right: The "Cord" chair features a thin, frail-looking frame that conceals a sturdy aluminum skeleton.

Starting this week, New York’s Museum of Arts and Design will cede control of its second-floor MADProjects Gallery to Nendo, a Tokyo-based studio known for its clever, subversive updates to traditional design concepts. "Blown-Color" is an assembly of one-of-a-kind lamps made from Smash, a special polyester fabric that can be manipulated into different forms when heated and that retains its shape when cooled. The group created a series of lights in the style of vernacular Japanese chochin paper lanterns, but, rather than the traditional bamboo frame, the properties of Smash allowed Nendo to shape it like blown glass in one seamless piece. Image courtesy Masayuki Hayashi.

Below: The "Phantom Waves" series of cylindrical vases.

“Phantom-Waves” are a series of prototypes for a new vase. Each rectangular or cylindrical vase is constructed with polarized Mylar that creates the impression of solid horizontal discs that divide the vase into segments. The discs are, however, only an illusion caused by the polarized light—a flower stem or branch can be inserted “through” the seemingly solid disc, creating an intriguing illusion. Image courtesy Masayuki Hayashi.

Polarized Mylar creates the illusion that the vases have been divided into segments by solid discs. When flower stems are dropped into the vase, they appear to pierce the discs.

Designer Oki Sato, principal of Nendo, in a room filled with a collection of recycled-paper Cabbage Chairs.

"So many products have been designed with only function in mind," says Oki Sato (right), Nendo’s founder and the recipient of more than 45 awards for his creations. "It’s time to think more about the emotional response something evokes. My inspiration is everyday life. I really enjoy those ‘Aha!’ moments – moments when something new or different gives you a pleasant surprise – and I want to share those moments with people."

Nendo made its New York debut in February, bringing an earlier version of Ghost Stories to the Friedman Benda Gallery in Chelsea. That version of the show showcased 40 "Cabbage Chairs," created in response to a challenge by the fashion designer Issey Miyake to design an object that would convey "how man will live in the 21st century." Nendo’s cabbage chairs were made with folded paper rolls, seemingly without regard to conventional chair-making techniques.

Nendo designed the Cabbage Chair for the XXIst Century Man exhibition curated by Issey Miyake in 2008. The piece is made of pleated paper created as a by-product during fabric production. The material would ordinarily be discarded.

The Cabbage Chair, right, which looks, as the name suggests, like a giant head of cabbage, has been added to the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Musée des arts decoratifs in Paris.

Nendo’s breathtaking installation is an ideal fit for our MADProjects Gallery, which has become a spectacular space for us to showcase the newest, most original creations in design," says Holly Hotchner, the museum’s director. "In debuting Nendo’s latest projects and showing their prototypes, we are giving visitors a chance to see into the design process behind some of the most original, cutting-edge works."

The exhibit opens Oct. 27 and runs through Jan. 10.

For more information on Nendo's pieces featured above, visit the slideshow.

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