Dezeen Magazine

Nendo founder and Daniel Arsham at Make to Break collaborative exhibition

Nendo and Daniel Arsham create "functionality out of what is broken"

Japanese design studio Nendo and New York-based artist Daniel Arsham have collaborated on an exhibition for Milan design week 2023 that sees objects purposefully broken to create new functions.

Titled Break to Make, the exhibition, supported by the Friedman Benda art gallery, intended to highlight that destruction is not strictly negative and can be used to create new designs.

Collection of styrofoam prototypes at Milan design week
Nendo and Daniel Arsham’s collaborative project is titled Break to Make

The creative process involves Nendo designing and making objects with no specific functionality, which Arsham consequently breaks and transforms to make something new and useful.

"From a bathtub-like form, a loveseat emerged; from a long and narrow block, a bench or a stool; from a tall, square form, a console table was revealed," explained Nendo founder Oki Sato.

Pink pastel object as part of Milan design week installation
The installation focuses on creating functional pieces out of broken objects

Sato told Dezeen that the project was "inspired by Daniel's longstanding theme of 'fictional archaeology' – the concept of partially destroying contemporary everyday objects and making them feel as if they were unearthed from the past".

"An artist who expresses present objects as past artifacts, and a designer who makes present objects that anticipate the future. The collaboration may be seen as an overlay of these two contrary perspectives," said Nendo.

According to Arsham, "everything that exists today will become a relic, yet when we think about decay or deconstruction, there is a sense that is not beautiful or useful".

"Through this collaboration, we focussed on creating functionality out of what is broken," Arsham added.

Bench on display at Break to Make exhibition at Nendo office
The collection consists of various prototypes made from styrofoam

On display at the Nendo Milan office, the collection consists of prototypes made from styrofoam.

"We used styrofoam to create prototypes as it allowed for freedom to explore the act of breaking," Arsham explained.

Sato said that prototypes would later be moulded with plaster and have a coating applied to protect and strengthen the pieces.

Oki Sato and Daniel Arsham sat on styrofoam bench at Break to Make installation
The installation intends to highlight that broken items can hold value

When asked about the materials used and the potential waste generated in the process, Sato said styrofoam is widely recyclable in Japan.

"In Japan, Styrofoam is one of the materials that [is] recycled at dedicated facilities with a high recovery rate, similar to PET bottles and corrugated cardboard".

Doorway leading to piece on display at Nendo and Daniel Arsham exhibition
The installation was held at the Nendo Milan office

The exhibition was held at the Nendo Milan office rather than another venue in the city.

"Using a dedicated exhibition space allowed us to present the objects in dialogue with each other, but also showcase the creative process and tools that brought this collaboration to life," explained Sato.

The photography is courtesy of Nendo.

The projects were on show from 18 to 23 April at the Nendo Milan office as part of Milan design week. See our Milan design week 2023 guide on Dezeen Events Guide for information about the many other exhibitions, installations and talks that took place throughout the week.