Nendo Super Studio @ Salone Milan 2018

Nendo Super Studio @ Salone Milan 2018

One of the most eagerly awaited events of the 2018 Fuorisalone was the mega exhibition dedicated to Nendo, a Japanese studio that embodies the genius of Oki Sato.

The exhibition Nendo: forms of movement opened at Superstudio (via Tortona 27) at the beginning of Milan Salone.

10 concepts were presented based on the idea of movement which arises from function, materials and production method in a 800 square metre mysterious labyrinth. The exhibit shows final products alongside models and sketches, the perfect way to discover the creative process of one of the most important design studios in the world.

Sato first came up with the exhibition when working on a zipper for fastening manufacturer YKK who has first asked the designer to come up with different shapes and finishes. Inspired by the challenge of transforming something that hadn’t been changed for more than one hundred years, Sato focused on the device’s movement instead.

The exhibition begins with ‘seven sliding cases’, a series of orb-like boxes made from a natural mineral known as fluorite. after being compressed and heated to create a material with impressive durability and an extremely low-friction quality, these boxes boast a natural feeling of touch.

When closed all white cases have the same sphere shape of 65mm in diameter but each one opens in varying ways.

Acting as a centrepiece to the exhibition, a four-layer vase with two different overlapping patterns has been created using fine milling technology. 

Crafted from a 100kg block of aluminum, each layer has been carefully calculated to the exact millimetre so that the play of light and shadow is just right so each pattern blends together without a distinct separation.



“Japanese design when it becomes too minimal and simple becomes cold, I want my design to be friendly … A bit of irony is like adding a little spice to food: it gives that extra flavor, adds a magic note.” ………………………………..Nendo


In the third room a “simple” sheet of paper – which is actually a special piece of technology that hides a printed circuit board – turns into a functional LED torch: the light gets more intense as you tighten the sheet of the paper, lights also change colour according to which side you roll the sheet of paper on.


Part of the exhibition were reinterpreted and unconventionally shaped hourglasses, carved from blocks of transparent acrylic. Designed to ‘change the perception of the flow of time’, the amorphic hourglasses feature different sized cavities and passages that alter the speed and the angle of the flow of sand.


The interior cavity of each hourglasses has been polished by hand with fine metal needles tipped with abrasives. The resulting fluid shapes are intended to give the impression that time is moving even more freely than it was before. The series includes four designs titled Variations of Time (which count different increments of time between two and five minutes)

The series includes four designs titled Variations of Time (which count different increments of time between two and five minutes).

The exhibition closed with a quirky trip to the gift shop featuring Nendo’s capsule toy machines, referencing those originally imported to Japan from the US in 1965.

By inserting coins visitors could turn a knob to release and dispense miniature figures of the studio’s sketches in 3D forms, a reminder of the studio’s playful nature.


Interview with Oki Sato/ Nendo 




About Nendo

Nendo design studio is synonymous with designer Oki Sato, born in 1977 in Toronto, Canada.

In 2002 he founded nendo design studio. nendo means ’clay’ in Japanese – or more specifically, modelling clay such as plasticine. A unique material that makes it easy to do creative modelling. As Oki Sato explains: ”the name is appropriate for a studio that needs to develop design solutions for a host of very different clients”

Oki Sato does not look at design like many iconic designers, who have focused on the mantra, ’form follows function’. He also looks at the history behind the product and its design.

His expression is minimalist, but contains small signs and details that immediately arouse memories. He employs soft, friendly shapes which make his designs appear comfortable from first sight.

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