Sou Fujimoto’s inspires design ideas at Japan House London
What if instead of speculating the future of architecture and the built environment, we let the possibilities of design naturally feed into the world of tomorrow. ‘Creating architecture is like planting seeds of the future,’ says Sou Fujimoto. The contemporary Japanese architect, a leading figure amongst a new generation of creatives, does not believe in offering a concrete solution. Instead, he advocates open dialogue, conversations on the potentials of buildings – private and commercial – in shaping our future.
This is the premise for ‘Future of the Futures’ – the inaugural exhibition at Japan House London, curated in collaboration with Tokyo’s Toto Gallery. On for one more week, this fascinating show asks viewers to walk around Fujimoto’s intricately-crafted models and observe the large-scale photographs of his finished buildings. Each piece gets a one-line quote by the architect – the lack of the usual heavily-curated text allows our imagination to run wild, to see the possibilities of Fujimoto’s scattered seeds.
It is also worth visiting to see Japan House London itself. Opened earlier this summer in a beautifully restored deco building on Kensington High Street, this three-story space houses a shop selling artisan products, a restaurant above serves beautifully crafted Japanese food, and the basement gallery is a quiet space of pristine white walls, where the exhibits have space to breathe. On the day we visit, well-healed Kensington residents pop in, as do teens on their summer break and the odd tourist who appear to have just happened upon Japan House by chance.
Sou Fujimoto Architects, established in 2000, believes in site-specific work. We particularly admire some of his domestic architecture – buildings like House NA, the Tokyo residence of compact exposed living quarters, here on show with what we are told are the actual residents. ‘When we design, we pay close attention to the context of the site, the requests of our clients, and the cultural and historical backgrounds of each local community,’ explains the architect, saying it inspires his team to create ‘actual places’ where people want to occupy. There is a definite blurring of inside and out in his work too. He says, ‘a residence is the integration of interior and exterior, nature and architecture.’
Fujimoto is open to ideas that may be hidden in societies. He explains: ‘If what we call future is defined as a series of manifestation of possibilities, I would say that small architectural proposals that stimulate them are seeds of the future.’
Image © Adrian Brooks/Imagewis for Japan House London