Dezeen Magazine

Second Nature by Tokujin Yoshioka

An exhibition directed by Japanese designer Tokujin Yoshioka called Second Nature has opened at 21_21 Design Sight in Tokyo.


The exhibition includes Venus chair (see our previous story), created from crystals that form on polyester mesh left in a mineral solution for over a month.


Yoshioka also created an installation called Clouds for the exhibition, which consists of overlapping transparent fibres. "I have tried to create a space, which will be retained in one's memory like natural phenomenon that they had experienced before," says the designer.


The exhibition continues until 18 January 2009. Below: Venus - crystal chaise lounge


The following text is from Tokujin Yoshioka Design:

This project is to think and realize wondrous power and primitive beauty in nature by creating designs, which incorporate the nature born of each person’s memory and the law of nature.


I will try to make a proposal to the future of design through this exhibition. Until now, I have presented a number of installations and products around the world. I have wondered at how people who have seen my works talk to me about them while seeming to superimpose these works on the natural phenomena that they themselves have experienced. That was how I have become to notice that my works are close to nature and its principles. Below: Venus - crystal chair sofa


From that point, I have looked anew at the presence of nature, and consequently I have drawn to the beauty in nature. I received a request from 21_21 DESIGN SIGHT to direct an exhibition, and I proposed an idea of "Second Nature," which has been developed in collaboration with the planning associates. Below: Water block


The “Second Nature” exhibition is neither about creating visual resemblances to nature, about presenting works that use natural materials, nor imitating the surface of principles. It is the exhibition to look at the mysterious beauty of nature and seek to investigate designs, which appeal to human heart. Below: Venus - crystal chair sofa


In a dictionary, “second nature” means “an acquired habit or tendency in one's character that is so deeply ingrained as to appear automatic.” In addition to the meaning above, in this exhibition, the word “second nature” is used in a sense of expressing a symbol of nature that we seek in the future design. We also use the word to express a nature that exists deep in each one’s memory. Below: Venus - crystal chair sofa


In this exhibition, based on the challenge and ideas to incorporate the various principles that exist in nature into design, the works of 8 creators, including myself, Ross Lovegrove, and the Humberto and Fernando Campana, will be presented. Furthermore, I will present an experimental proposal by designing a cloud-like installation, which embraces entire exhibition space with the concept of "Second Nature". Below: Venus - crystal chair sofa


How does this exhibition relate to the environmental problems and ecology? In the face of serious global issues, including disruption of nature, I think that each individual today has higher consciousness on the waste and environmental problems. The level of consciousness of businesses is also changing. I even feel that things that surround us, including food, car, energy are reaching a point of change now. Below: Venus - crystal chaise lounge


As a designer, I have pondered what design can do in this time of change. I believe that to realize a beauty of the earth is one of the ways to look at such environmental issues. I would be pleased if this exhibition will somewhat become an opportunity to increase awareness of the earth. Below: Venus - crystal chaise lounge


Myself, Ross Lovegrove, Humberto and Fernando Campana, Makoto Azuma, Kaiji Moriyama x Takeshi Kushida, Noriko Ambe, Asuka Katagiri, and Yukio Nakagawa are participating in this exhibition. Based on the concept of “Second Nature”, I have selected those creators from all the designers and artists around the world.


One factor that is common to all the participants is that their activities are not limited in a single field. Rather, they are the creators whose works evoke emotions of many people. For example, one creator presents a work, which is a fusion of contemporary art and body movement. Another is a creator who is regarded both as a master of flower arrangement and a contemporary artist. Each creator has various elements in his own work. As for Ross and the Campanas, I gave them a certain image of their new works in respect of their design styles, and they have created brand new works for this exhibition.


In addition to the leading-edge technologies including computer rendering, future environment and future designs will come to have similar personality of nature as all the living creatures in nature are born from necessity and distinctive beauty.

Moreover, designers will come to focus more on designing emotions and feelings rather than designing a form of things. As sunlight, fertile soil, and pure water are essential sources for plants in nature, I think that designers will come to play a role in making things from such perspectives. Below: Clouds - Installation


I am presenting a new installation "CLOUDS - Installation." A number of fibers will envelop the entire space like clouds. Often I find myself looking up at the sky. And each time, strong sunlight, shape of clouds, and every element of the sky are burned into my memory. Although the installation, which is created by overlapping transparent fibers, is artificial, I have tried to create a space, which will be retained in one's memory like natural phenomenon that they had experienced before. In collaboration with 100 of college students, we fixed each of countless fibers by hand.


On designing an exhibition installation and a space design, I always intend to propose an idea that is specific to the given venue and that cannot be realized in other spaces. It is to understand and to make full use of the characteristic of the space. It is rather to create scenery than to design a space, rather to change people’s emotion than to build up a space. This time, several strong works and my installation will change the atmosphere in a moment.


VENUS – Natural crystal chair
“A form born from nature has a beauty that exceeds our imagination.”

This VENUS obtains the structure by making the tiny crystals grow in an aquarium and makes an appearance with time as if Venus gradually emerges from water. "Honey-pop" (2001) obtained the strength by its honeycombed structure that was born out by unfolding a number of layered thin papers. Similar to the structures in flowers and plants, which systemize the small fibers and increase strength, the "PANE chair - bread chair" (2006) was completed, which realized a flexible seating structure out of fiber.


This time, I have pondered on challenging the history of design by creating an epoch-making chair grown from natural crystal structures. Today, a rapid development of technology, particularly the use of computer renderings, has ensured and made various things real. I want to believe, however, there is something in nature that defies all human imagination.

I have wondered whether we can make a proposal through design, where we can once again think about the earth and feel the beauty and the power of nature. I guided the first half of the production but the other half is left up to nature: the beauty born of coincidence, which a human cannot create on his own will. This natural crystal chair, which is formed using the laws of nature, pushes the boundaries of creativity. The work is like my message for the future. Below: Clouds - Installation


I intentionally designed a chair in order to deliver my message to people. Since chairs are familiar to us, I thought that this chair, which I believe to be my message for the future, would be able to encourage communication with people.


Besides the “VENUS – Natural crystal chair”, what are you going to present?

I will present my first 2-dimensional works: “Destiny”, ”Moonlight”, and ”Unfinished”.“Everything born of nature has a life”. These two-dimensional pieces in crystals incorporate a method of changing the shapes of crystals by playing music during the crystallization process. Completed by the laws of nature and embodying a beauty born of coincidence, the crystals in “Destiny”, "Moonlight", and "Unfinished" form in different ways, “responding” to the sound in the aquarium, where Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 (the "Symphony of Destiny") and Piano Sonata No. 14 (the "Moonlight Sonata") is played. At the venue, I will share the “responding” process with the visitors: We will play Schubert's Symphony No.7 (Unfinished) in the aquarium where a work entitled “Unfinished” is set.


A half of the production of “VENUS” is guided by myself, and the other half is made by Mother Nature. We put a block of soft polyester fiber in a huge aquarium with a solution, where special mineral is melted in. On the polyester fiber, natural crystal begins to form its structure and continues a gradual grow until “VENUS – Natural crystal chair” is completed. This unpredictable element makes me feel the serendipitous beauty in nature. It takes approximately 1 month to complete the chair. Below: Destiny


The material is natural crystals, which contain some kind of mineral. And soft fiber structure is used as a base of the chair.


Venus – it emerges out of nothing by the wondrous power of nature. At the same time, it reminds us of the boundary between the real and the imaginary world. I saw an image of the Venus in this chair; an appearance born of nature, a beauty that is beyond the reach of our imagination, and its glittering aura.


The production itself was undertaken a year ago. However, I had been drawn to the beauty of crystal for several years and I had worked over the idea for a few years. Considering my challenge to create a groundbreaking chair with a completely new structure, it dates back to 2001 when I presented my first designed chair, Honey-pop.