Nendo at Design Museum Holon

June 12 2016

This week saw the opening of the first major retrospective from acclaimed design studio Nendo at Israelis Design Museum Holon. Entitled The Space in Between, the show covers 14 prolific years of output from Nendo and it’s Oki Sato.

Curated by Maria Cristina Didero, the exhibition itself was designed by Oki Sato and his team, The Space in Between explores “The exhibition investigates the un-design and in-between spaces left for light and air.” To help explore the idea, the exhibition displays 74 pieces divided into six categories; between processes, between textures, between boundaries, between the object, between relationships, between senses. “There are plenty of gaps or spaces within things,” said Nendo. “Widening, truncating or replacing these gaps with completely different elements can bring about new functions and meanings from the inside.”

The famously prolific output of Nendo, with upwards of 100 finish projects being released every year, makes the expedited timing of a retrospective all the more intriguing. Born in Canada and studied in Architecture at Waseda University in Tokyo, Sato established Nendo’s first office in Tokyo immediately upon completion of university. Nendo, or ‘modeling clay’, dipped into the worlds of architecture, furniture, art and graphic design to produce projects that feel both concise and timelessly clever. Sato’s practice has always been narrative first, a deviation from the functional aspirations of many of the last centuries most notable designers. Whimsey is a term often applied to the projects by outside viewers, but the aesthetic restraint that Nendo applies to it’s concepts is hardly whimsical.

The true mastery of Nendo is the clean pathway from sketch to final solution that they enforce. A clever idea drawn in thin marker is unobscured by flamboyant material or the compromise of a committee. The end projects are allowed to rely on the strength of a single idea – be it humor or a poetic observation. This trust in the strength of ideas is what has allowed Nendo to live at the intersection of prolific and innovative.

In addition to the retrospective, Nendo has created a site specific installation entitled In the Shade in collaboration Glas Italia and Caesarstone, comprises a sequence of five colored glass screens held in place by pedestals. Housed in the beneath the sinuous bands of architect Ron Arad’s COR-TEN steel, the courtyard is a constantly changing state of shade and light, and Nendo’s interpretation of the phenomenon provides a soft counterbalance to the heavy steel. A simple construction of sheet glass on pedestals feels almost un-designed, but as dinero notes “ what is un-design and the carefully calculated operative-area left to light and air. This theme became a narrative expedient to tell the story of his unique career, up to now.”

The Space in Between will be on view at the Design Museum Holon until October 29th.