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April 12, 2014

Flower Power

The Art of Ikebana is Showcased at Tokyo’s Sogetsu School to Launch Modern Design Review

Ikebana expresses not only the beauty of flowers,” says the Sogetsu School's Eikou Sumura, who here demonstrates the revered Japanese art of flower arranging. “It also brings out the essential brilliance and vitality contained in every plant.” Tokyo's Sogetsu School is renowned for its contemporary outlook to ikebana, making strikingly balanced displays using branches, blossom, leaves and synthetic materials. To celebrate the inaugural issue of new magazine Modern Design Review, which launches this week during Salone Internationale del Mobile in Milan, director Matthew Donaldson traveled to the renowned institution to capture ikebana in action. The youngest school of its kind in Japan, Sogetsu has done much to open up this beautiful and under-explored discipline to the outside world. Its founding Iemoto [master] Sofu Teshigahara—dubbed the “Picasso of flowers” by Time magazine—was just 27 years old when he founded the school as means of creative expression, and the institution he started reflects his interdisciplinary attitude. The Kenzo Tange-built school features a beautiful stone garden from artist and designer Isamu Noguchi in its atrium, and continues to make evocative floral forms.

Modern Design Review is available now.

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Floating Architecture

Japanese Surrealist Terunobu Fujimori Reveals His Otherworldly Vision

A one-legged teahouse suspended amid cherry trees in the Japanese mountains showcases the vivid imagination and designs of architect Terunobu Fujimori. Conceiving his first creation at the age of 42, Fujimori is considered one of the world’s first surrealists in his field. Working solely with natural materials such as earth, wood and stone, the modern eccentric has dedicated his career to pioneering contemporary design with buildings “that float in the air” and roofs covered with living leek plants. Curating the Japanese Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2006, Fujimori invited audiences to remove their shoes and enter the exhibition through a hole in a wooden wall to sit in a simple straw hut. “A building should not resemble anyone else's buildings, past or present, or any style that has developed since the Bronze Age,” he explains of his fairytale structures. This month sees the release of a new comprehensive monograph, Terunobu Fujimori: Architect, illuminate by personal drawings, photographs and his own intimate words. Co-edited by curator Hannes Rössler, the tome coincides with the largest retrospective of Fujimori’s work to date at the Museum Villa Stuck in Munich, featuring a new mobile teahouse situated in the Museum’s gardens.

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In Residence: Claudio Silvestrin

The Italian Architect and Designer Invites Us Into His Minimal-But-Commodious London Abode

Claudio Silvestrin lives as he preaches: his East London apartment, visited by filmmaker Matthew Donaldson for our In Residence series, is a minimalist masterpiece, free of any physical clutter but filled instead with light, shadow and sculptural forms. The architect’s reductive, contemplative, near-ecclesiastical spaces can be found across the globe. He has designed beautiful residences from Moscow to Majorca, and currently on his drawing board is a Miami home for Kanye West. Silvestrin’s signatures are employed in his own home to full effect: the vertical is emphasized in columns of material that lend the double height living space an air of classical structure; the horizontal is emphasized by a parapet that extends the length of the living space. Monolithic forms that reference the ageless minimalism of Stone Henge and The Parthenon are everywhere, while his use of materials such as stone and wood bring raw and harmonious results. Groceries and even an extensive library of philosophy are hidden behind paneled doors. Only the occasional Wegner chair or Calder mobile breaks through the interior’s clean planes. “This is a space to reflect in,” says Silvestrin—one where guests quickly shed the hubbub of the London streets below and in which, he confesses, they always seem to linger a little longer than intended.

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