Nendo Works 2014-2015 presents a year’s worth of work by the studio’s founder Oki Sato at Milan’s Museo della Permanente.
Japanese studio Nendo is exhibiting over 100 products designed over the past year for 19 brands as part of a solo exhibition in Milan, including previously unseen pieces.
“We collected the main pieces that we have done in the past one year, and collaborations with a lot of European clients of course, with Japanese companies as well,” Sato.
Widely known and celebrated in the design community for its highly intuitive, functional and minimalist design philosophy, the prolific studio’s output spans experimental furniture, architectural fixtures, lighting, tableware and more speculative objects.
The exhibition encompasses key collaborations with manufacturers including Glas Italia, for whom Sato created a furniture range based on the forms inspired by folding paper and shadows, as well as a tableware collection made with traditional Japanese artisans, various domestic door designs and various models for food designs such ice-cream cakes and textured chocolate.
The nine new ranges for manufacturer Glas Italia are displayed across the museum’s ground floor.
These include frosted glass cuboid tables with rainbow coloured edges and furniture with dark surfaces that appear to be slipping off.
“It’s about cutting and glueing,” said Sato. “It’s very simple, almost like playing with paper.”
“We noticed that Glas Italia had a lot of interesting techniques and we started mixing those different techniques and trying to experiment with what we could do through sheet glass,” he said.
One of Sato’s favourite designs from the range is a table called Clear Shadows, which has a glass top patterned with snowflake shapes that aren’t visible unless inspected closely.
However, when a light is shone onto the surface, the patterns form distinguishable shadows on the horizontal surface positioned a few centimetres beneath.
“I noticed that when I washing my face one morning in a hotel that there was the shadow of the bubbles on the water,” Sato said. “It was really interesting even though I couldn’t see the bubbles themselves. So I thought, ‘couldn’t I make this into a table?”
In the largest space upstairs, a selection of Nendo‘s most recent projects are laid out on long, low plinths.
Among the designs is a range of wooden doors including one with a magnetic surface, one that slides open horizontally in section and one designed for the corner of a room.
There is also a collection of 16 tableware items designed with traditional craftsmen for the Japanese pavilion at the Milan Expo, which is due to open next month but is not yet complete.
Food designs include models of ice cream cakes topped with chocolate houses made for Häagen Dazs and a set of textured chocolates created when Sato was awarded Designer of the Year 2015 at the Maison & Objet fair in Paris.
“This was not only about making crazy shapes but we were thinking about how form affects the taste,” the designer said.
Photography is by Takumi Ota
The exhibition is open for the duration of Milan design week, which runs until 19 April.
Nendo is also debuting lamps based on ice lollies designed with Luca Nichetto at the city’s Salone del Mobile furniture fair.