Japanese designer Oki Sato has created slews of playful furniture and gadgets since he set up his Tokyo design studio, Nendo, in 2002. “Our approach is small surprises in everyday life,” says Sato. For Nendo’s latest solo exhibition, at the National Taiwan Craft Research and Development Institute (NTCRI), the firm has masterminded this trademark aesthetic within the gallery setting. Made up of monochrome whimsical scenes, the exhibit displays sketches of indoor and outdoor spaces that line the interior walls, enveloping the viewer and forming a dialogue with the minimalist products on display. “It’s the story behind the design that is the most important thing for us,” says Sato. “Now that we can do almost anything and can see anything on the Internet, the role of real space is changing.”

Presenting a pair of furniture ranges called Thin Black Lines and Dancing Squares, Nendo’s designs in the show are based on the notion of still or active lines. As Sato puts it, “We would like to design pieces that look between two-dimensional and three-dimensional by using a common material.” For Dancing Squares, a collection of boxy white shelving units, tables, and stands, the firm created a living space that appears as if seen through a fish-eye lens; for Thin Black Lines, a family of black wire-frame pieces produced by Capellini, they designed a floor that appears to flow like a rushing river around the objects.

The partnering of the NTCRI and Nendo began with a range called Yii (shown in Milan at this year’s Salone and featured in Surface’s July/August 2011 issue), which includes the firm’s Bamboo-Steel chair. Nendo’s holistic approach to design—“the same process for all projects, architecture or furniture,” says Sato—allows for the firm’s concepts to allude to conventional notions of scale. In the case of the exhibit, this approach also alludes to notions of reality.

Thin Black Lines and Dancing Squares
Photos: Daici Ano


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