Thursday, September 20, 2007

Beauty in Translation

The architecture stars aligned a bit over the last few days for *boy and me. First we accidentally stumbled upon New Museum in NYC last weekend and then discovered that one of the architects, Ryue Nishizawa, was giving a lecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) last night. I love coincidence.

Before running into New Museum on Saturday, I had never heard of Ryue Nishizawa or SANAA or Sejima. Not shocking given that I'm not an architect. But after seeing those little stacked, white boxes in the Bowery, I was very interested in seeing more work from this architect. There is something wonderful and refreshing about simplicity when its done right - in any form of design. It is an ephemeral quality, hard to describe but effortlessly recognized.

He shared 4 of his independent projects and 3 projects in conjunction with Sejima via SANAA, but my favorite part of the entire presentation was simply listening to him speak. I would describe his English as good but not fluent - his vocabulary and grammar limited to very simple words and phrases. You could tell he felt pressure to say more but, lacking the alternative words to elaborate, he would resort to repeating the only words he knew to describe the images on the screen: beauty, light, open, air, green.

I've only really been a part of this crazy world of architecture for a little over a year but it only took about 5 minutes to discover that the discourse, like in all other forms of design, is mostly just plain BS. Simplicity and restraint in design is an achievement but simple, succinct description of design is almost unheard of. I'm sure when speaking about his design in Japanese, Nishizawa is the epitome of eloquence, but when designing using the basic principles of beauty - light, open, green, air - what more really needs to be said?

Some images from last night's presentation:

N Museum, Japan

1-room museum, concept based on a water droplet

Moriyama House, Japan

Apartment building divided into individual houses with public patios

Private Residence, Japan

Translucent cotton panels seperate and reveal each room

Main living room with retractable roof

Glass Pavilion at the Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio

Glass walls seperate program while revealing contents

Learning Center, Switzerland

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