LUXURYCULTURE.COM - 21_21 Design In-Sight


Issey Miyake introduces Japan's first design museum, 21_21 DESIGN SIGHT, designed by architectural maestro Tadao Ando, bringing insight to the scope of vision.

Since his eponymous design studio opened in the 1970s, fashion visionary Issey Miyake has been blurring the boundaries between cutting-edge fashion and cutting-edge design. "When I think of design, I embrace images alive in freedom and energy," says the innovator of pleated fabrics that expand with the body (Pleats Please), no-sew clothing (A-POC), and furniture that morphs into fashion (Gemini chair by Ron Arad).

It comes as no surprise, then, that Miyake is the mastermind behind what will certainly be remembered as a milestone in 21st century design. Called 21_21 DESIGN SIGHT, it is (surprisingly) Japan's first institution devoted entirely to the realm of design. Created as part of Tokyo Midtown, the new cultural and shopping mega-complex that opens on March 30th in Tokyo's Roppongi district, the project was conceived as an incubation lab for new ideas and a "springboard to new discoveries."

With a name that suggests a world of design surpassing the limits of 20/20 vision, the forum adds a new dimension to the appreciation and study of design — one of cultural, social and historical insight. "I'd like it to be a place that embodies the connection between design, the enjoyment of life, and living. In other words, while we'll also be making art objects and producing things, it will have a larger purpose," explains Miyake. To elaborate his groundbreaking vision, Miyake called upon several of the country's most astounding minds: architect Tadao Ando, graphic designer Taku Satoh and industrial designer Naoto Fukusawa.

Combining their diverse outlook and expert experience in a myriad of fields, the multi-disciplinary platform will engage audiences in a dialogue about design's far-reaching impact on society. "The goal is to reach across boundaries in bringing together craftsmen from all genres conceiving new plans and moving to the creative process," says Miyake. Less a museum for displaying world-renowned designs, it aspires to become an international hub for inspiration and exchange; one that fosters collaboration and the free flow of ideas between craftsman, engineers, designers, companies and consumers.

Rising eloquently out of the surrounding verdant landscape, Tadao Ando's dynamic two-level structure is an artful illustration of the institute's name—a clever play on the words "sight" and "site." Most of the interior space lies hidden underground; a dramatic shift in balance from the exterior's tranquil composure. Paying proper homage to its extraordinary home, the forum's inaugural exhibition, 'A Hard Fought Process,' will display models and photos of the building's evolution from start to finish. "Though I imagine the people who visit 21_21 will come for the events here, no doubt they'll also be hoping to get a taste of the facility's architectural attractions... I believe 21_21, as a place, will be the sum of the allure of Ando's building, and the content we provide inside. The need to capitalize on both should make for some interesting experimentations," explains co-director Fukasawa.

Living up to the institute's credo to provide food for thought to jar the imagination, the first "experimentation" following the inaugural show is aptly titled 'Chocolate.' "When I announced chocolate as the theme, some were startled, to say the least," remembers Fukasawa. "I don't think it's such a bad idea to launch an exhibition by prompting visitors to wonder what on earth the show is about."

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