Dezeen Magazine

Tokyo Designers Week interviews: Shigeru Ban

Tokyo 09: Tokyo Designers Week has started and Dezeen produced the official guide to the event. In this first in a series of short interviews commissioned for the guide, architect Shigeru Ban responds to the festival's theme, green design.

Shigeru Ban - Green design doesn't mean anything to me

“Green design is just a fashion. It doesn't mean anything to me. I’ve been working with materials like paper since 1986, long before this fashionable movement arose. I’m just interested in using materials without wasting it. Nothing has changed. The shape is different but the idea behind a project is always the same – taking advantage of the material itself.

Paper is a very inexpensive material which you can obtain anywhere in the world. It’s lightweight, and even students can work with it without needing special techniques. I’ve made many projects with paper, including a tower installation in London and a number of disaster-relief structures.

I am based in Tokyo but I also have offices in Paris and New York, so I work everywhere in the world. Working in Japan is easy because contractors are very organised and the craftsmanship is excellent. There's greater harmony between clients, contractors and architects in Japan than anywhere else in the world. We are really spoilt here. When I am working in France there are always fights – it’s a totally different environment in this country.”

Shigeru Ban is an architect with offices in Tokyo, New York and Paris.

Photography by Phil Fisk
Art direction by Micha Weidmann
Interview by Rose Etherington

This interview is taken from the official Tokyo Designers Week guide (cover shown below), produced by Dezeen and art directed by Micha Weidmann.

More about Shigeru Ban on Dezeen:

Paper Tower
10 Unit System
Dellis Cay villas
Paper Tea House
Metal Shutter Houses
Artek Pavilion

See all our stories about Tokyo Designers Week in our special category.