xLAB Program

Faculty Lecture Kengo Kuma + Keisuke Toyoda + Jeffrey Inaba + Kivi Sotamaa 2017.08.05 (SAT) 17:00 @Kasumigaseki Building

On August 5, 2017, xLAB hosted Faculty Lecture followed by a panel discussion. The participants were Jeffrey Inaba, Kivi Sotamaa, Keisuke Toyoda, and Kengo Kuma.

Jeffery Inaba
Kivi Sotamaa

Jeffrey Inaba presented recent projects from Inaba Williams, including “Suck / Blow” (2009) at the Storefront for Art and Architecture, “Red Bull Music Academy New York” (2013), and BMW MINI A/D/O “Beyond the Utopia – Dystopia Mindset” (2017).

According to Inaba, technology needs designers to interpret it for people and society at large. Many of Inaba Williams’s projects integrate building technologies, such as lighting and heating systems, as a way to explore aesthetics through an integrated building systems approach. “Rather than expressing the technology of the building, the [Global Museum in New City] creates an image of this technology as an architecture expression.” By combining a building’s literal atmosphere (the way a space is heated or cooled) with its figurative atmosphere (the mood or feeling of the space), architectural design is able to translate these uses of technology to produce an aesthetic. It is the role of architects in contemporary society to find these opportunities to develop this aesthetic of technology.

Kivi Sotamaa presented recent projects from Ateljé Sotamaa, including “Spanish Dancer” (2004) at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, “Kissing Helsinki” (2014) entry for the Helsinki Guggenheim Competition, and “Atelier House” (2015) design strategy.

Atelier House

Sotamaa expresses architecture’s need to create friction that disrupts the “smooth interface” of contemporary experience. “The job of the architect is to go against the social media bubble, to create public space, to create architecture that wakes you up, and makes you questions your relationship to the world.” Important to the works of Ateljé Sotamaa is the architect’s expanded role as the “choreographers of the multiplicity of programs that contribute to the experience of [the] audience.” Their work engages with the bodily form, emotion, and the “real” through the design and manufacturing of color, sound, touch, and form. Together these elements contribute to architecture’s capacity to create experiences that impact interpersonal interactions and produce social space that is not necessarily easy, but new.

Keisuke Toyoda and Kengo Kuma joined the panel to discuss the how applied technologies could change the look of the future. Inaba, interested in “Community Aesthetics”, sees the role of the designer to originate images of the design of future built environments. Sotamma, on the other hand, has an interest in “Disruptive Technologies”. Like the generative use of the computer in the digital revolution, there is the ability to take an opportunistic attitude toward technology to seek out the next disruptive technology. With these new technologies, Kuma explains, there is a political entanglement and a system that does not support this type of change.

Kengo Kuma(left)and Keisuke Toyoda(right)

To Inaba, the nefarious uses of technology in the recent US presidential election, coupled with the culture of “Black Mirror”, not only demonstrate the role of technology as able to transform society, but also demonstrate how fragile society is to change. Thus, the designer guides society as to where technology should go. To do so, Toyoda suggests that the designer expand outside the traditional territory, possibly to the digital platform. “What could be different,” he asks, “with this new platform that could engage the outside world?” In response, Inaba refers the revelatory moment when the face of a robot is peeled back. Designers don’t want design behind the face, but the face itself. It is this translation of technology for people to relate to, that transforms the designer into the creative director responsible for explaining ideas. In discussing on the status of friction, Sotamaa notes that people do not pay attention to the built environment, but they do pay attention to good art. Interested in the relationship between human being and built environment, architecture needs to provoke or seduce people into new places though new technological and aesthetic possibilities, resulting in an impact on material production through the intersection between architecture and technology.

Inaba mentions that many projects by Inaba Williams have a digital experience component, driven by content-media. While clients want the newest in terms of content-media, it will be replaced within months; whereas, Architecture lasts longer, has a non-downloadable experience, and may be more impactful to user the technology. This impact occurs in the intersection of technology and architecture, not in the merging of the two.

[fig.1-2,4] Shinkenchiku-sha
[fig.3] Kivi Sotamaa