Tokyo-based studio Nendo, led by designer Oki Sato, was responsible for creating one of the gallery spaces inside Japan’s Kengo Kuma-designed pavilion at the Milan Expo. The result was a fantastic dining room, where perspective is put into question and reality is presented differently. In the dining area of 11 by three metre space, we find a long black dining table that runs down the center of the white-walled room, surrounded by 24 black chairs. However, this is a very special table because it’s not the same height until the end, tricking this way the ways of the spectator. Get ready to learn below all about this incredible otical illusion dining room and all of his concept by the words of the designer.
The purpose of this exposition is to show to the public in a creative way the different sets of tableware designed by Nendo and made by Japanese artisans. The tableware is then laid out on the surface of this magnificent table, which is angled from front to back to allow visitors to see the spread from the entrance.
As you can understand in the image above, this is not a normal table. Only when you see someone next to it, your eyes realize that it is all an amazing optical illusion. To get this result, Nendo explains the concept: “The table and chairs gradually increase in height the further into the room one goes, playing with the spectator’s sense of perspective as well as allowing him/her to look over all the items on display from the gallery entrance”.
The chairs along either side are extended to match the ascending height of the tabletop, creating an optical illusion when viewed from directly in front. Towards the back of the space, the stretched chairs can be used as stepladders for better views of the products.
Nendo adds to explain to his creation that “Although resembling an ordinary dinner table, by experimenting with the functional relationship between tables and chairs, the end result is a uniquely conceptual exhibition space that enables the spectator to view all of the products from various angles and distances”.
“Just as in this exhibition, all information pertaining to colour has been removed to encourage the spectator to focus on other more essential aspects of the exhibited pieces” – Nendo.
“In the novelist Junichiro Tanizaki’s essay In Praise of Shadows, there is a passage about eating a yokan (a traditional sweet made from black bean paste) in the dark in order to develop a keener palette” – Nendo.
Each of the 16 sets of tableware was designed specifically for the exhibition, which is titled Colorful Shadows. All the pieces are colored black so the details of their shapes and finishes can be better appreciated, according to the studio. Products on display include a set of minimal cutlery, a collection of intricately carved chopsticks and a range of ceramic cups and bowls with different patterned surfaces.
The tableware was also displayed at the Nendo Works 2014-2015 exhibition during Milan’s Salone del Mobile furniture fair in April, along with over 100 products created by the prolific design studio over the past year.