Tokujin Yoshioka is best known for his stirring, mystical furniture and product designs. But he’s less interested in what’s there than what isn’t. He’s interested in formlessness. “I was not interested in designing the shape of a chair, I was interested in designing the function of seating,” he told us the other day, sitting in his hazy “Twilight” exhibit at the Moroso showroom in Milan.
To prepare for this latest collaboration in seating, Yoshioka did research and collected data on the way people sit and what they actually do in chairs. Apparently, what people naturally do in a chair is move around a lot. He wanted his design to flow out of his findings, and because sitting is not necessarily a stationary, static endeavor, his clean, smooth and very tactile Moon chair winds up being less about ergonomics than about freedom of movement. You shift, slide, slouch, and lean to your heart’s delight.
The exhibition Yoshioka built in the Moroso showroom, to show off the Moon chair, is more akin to a happening than a design exhibit. The large room is filled with fog, and the chairs, though all essentially the same, become experiential. In multiples, the Moon Chair becomes a series of forms found in nature, made to reflect on the experience of looking at the sun breaking through the clouds, or snow melting in the warming air. The room was hushed, beautiful, and dictated not as much by the designed object as by the interaction of the light with the space, the people with the chairs, and the simplicity of the shapes.
Yashioka has been highly impacted by the recent tsunami disaster, what he calls a “very difficult moment for Japan.” As we were talking about his work and the natural elements all his pieces evoke, he reflected on nature’s capacity for being at once beautiful and dangerous, much like the evocative title, Twilight — a time or place with little to no light. Yoshioka’s work is always riding the line between art and product, beauty and austerity, playful and somber.
[Images via Tokujin Yoshioka]