Yes, I know, another piece about something Japanese. But I can’t help it; I have big love for Nippon-ya. I also have big love for the designs of Italian designer Luca Nichetto. And when Luca Nichetto and Oki Sato of Japanese design studio Nendo come together, they create magic. When it’s for Foscarini, it becomes light magic. There are ice lollies and jellyfish involved in the process (can you imagine all the stories that you can make from that combination?) The result is the Kurage lamp—a wispy dome atop legs like ice lolly sticks on tip toe. It was shown at the recent Milan Furniture Fair. The process is as intriguing as the end product, inspired by the Japanese tanka poetry where three lines generate a further two-line response. This was what the two designers did with the lamp—sort of like a jam design session, they describe, “with each participant taking turns improvising new melodies on top of a shared rhythm until a new song emerged”. So here, one came up with a basic concept and the other continued to develop the idea.
Oki Sato tells us a little bit more about the lamp design:
Can you share some interesting stories/insights about this particular process inspired by ‘tanka’ for the design of Kurage? Also, what does ‘Kurage’ mean?
Kurage is ‘jellyfish’ in Japanese. The real name at the beginning of the project was’ Ice Cream Paper Lamp’. The lamp was based upon a simple idea. Luca Nichetto sent me sketches of [the one time] when he had an ice lolly and the light of the sun shone through it, creating this really nice effect and diffusion of light. The jellyfish link came much later in the prototyping stages of production, following recurrent mentions of the lamp’s likeness to the sea creature. ‘Ice Cream Paper Lamp’ is a really long name so we decided, ‘Ok, if people look at it and see a jellyfish, why don’t we call the lamp ‘Jellyfish’?’ Whereas the shade represents the ice lolly itself, the lamp’s legs resemble ice lolly sticks.
Can you share about some of the challenges that went into producing Kurage?
Foscarini, luca Nichetto and I subsequently embarked on a two-year research project that saw more than 40 varying prototypes of the lamp. We did the shell in polycarbonate and we tried other kinds of paper. In the end we decided to come back and use this supplier in Japan that specialises in creating this 3D shell using Washi paper. Washi paper is very light—suitable for the extremely light cypress posts. The prototype that we showed in Milan two years ago was in paper and it was almost exactly what Foscarini was able to put into production right now.
Nendo’s signature is its playfulness and the delight its designs provides. Oki, were you playful as a child?
Yes, I think so. I spent my childhood in Toronto for about 10 years. It was so inspiring to me to see and experience the normal everyday life in Japan. That could be the origin of the way of thinking when I design.
Please continue this sentence: Play to me is…
Design! Play is fun and I love to design because it is fun!
Foscarini is available at Xtra.
+ images courtesy of Nendo