(THISIS)SHIZEN® ディスイズシゼン

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名和 晃平

Sculptor / Director of Sandwich Inc. / Professor at Kyoto University of the Arts

彫刻家 / Sandwich Inc. 代表 / 京都芸術大学教授

Capturing the cyclic ecosystem beyond the stratosphere


二面のガラス戸、墨色のモルタルのフロア、ステンレス製の什器。無機質な空間の中央に、5.8mもの天井から床までを突き抜けるように配された、異物感をも漂わせる巨大な造形「Seed」。(THISIS)SHIZENのコンセプトを空間デザイン、そしてアートで表現したのが彫刻家であり、様々な領域のクリエイターとプロジェクトを展開するSandwich Inc.代表の名和晃平さん。彼がここで解釈し表現した自然が、(THISIS)SHIZENのフィロソフィーと共鳴します。

Glass doors on two sides, ink-colored mortar flooring, stainless steel fixtures.... In the middle of the inorganic space there is a huge sculpture ‘Seed’ engendering a foreign ambiance, penetrating from the floor to the 5.8m-high ceiling. Kohei Nawa, a sculptor and the director of Sandwich Inc., working with creators form various fields, expressed the concept of (THISIS)SHIZEN through spatial design and art. His interpretation and expression of nature resonates with the philosophy of (THISIS)SHIZEN.


The core of the store concept
- Interpreting nature as an ecosystem

I believe that nature is an entire ecosystem. In Japan, after the Meiji era (1868-1912), the modernisation transitioned the way you interpret nature, spreading the dichotomy between nature and humankind and nature and man-made. Nevertheless, humankind is a part of nature from the very beginning. I think all the matters happening in this world are natural. For instance it would be shallow to interpret an image of a jungle with plants growing thickly as nature. That is just one part, and nature is the whole ecosystem including the relationship between energy, water and gravity, roles of plants, animals and microprobes... And, this relationship between producers, decomposers, and consumers that circulates in the system has led to the concept of (THIS)SHIZEN store.
In Earth's ecosystem, there are producers who produce organic matter from inorganic matter (soil), microorganisms that break it down to inorganic matter (decomposers), and animals (consumers) that feed on other organisms to take in the organic matter. I thought that this relationship could be applied to the plants, pottery and sake that make up (THISIS) SHIZEN. While the plants are the producers and the soil being the pottery, the liquor is made by the decomposers. And they are open to human beings who are the consumers. Initially, I was wondering why plants, pottery and sake are all in one store, but these thoughts have led me to interpret in this way. I’ve never had such perspective in any of the concept stores that I’ve worked on.

— It seems that the object in the middle of the store in (THISIS)SHIZEN summarises that interpretation of the ecosystem.


Nature expressed as art
And the origin of life

Organic materials, embryos, seeds and egg cells are all source of life. They are a motif of the sculpture ‘Seed’ in the middle of the space which expresses how meteorites that contain these materials are delivered from space through the clouds to the ground. It is inspired by the theory of the origin of life, "panspermia" (meaning “to plant seed” in Greek). In recent years, meteorites from Mars have been discovered and in those the presence of organic matter, insects and seeds that survive in extreme conditions have been detected. That gives reliability to the idea that organic matter is moving between planets and an ecosystem like Earth’s might exist on another planet. If this panspermia theory is correct, the human quest for life on Mars and migrating there might be homecoming in itself. I have researched a concept similar to this before for a stage design, but I guess this time my ideas and expression finally overlapped.
Also, I made a pot to sell at (THISIS) SHIZEN which shape is that sculpture cut off in the middle. I thought that it would be stronger to have a single concept connected than doing a product design for a pot. It is neither a sculpture nor a product, but simply a pot. The main characters of (THISIS)SHIZEN are the plants, and I believe that it makes work of art when the plants join the pots and bring out the concept of the store to the outside.

— In addition to the space design, you are also responsible for the art direction. And in the courtyard of Shinpukan which is in front of (THISIS)SHIZEN, your works are also on exhibited. Is there anything common that you paid attention to in the series of artworks, although they are all different?

The figure in the middle is a falling object (= meteorite) from the above, with the vector facing the centre of Earth. The work “Ether (Octagon)“ in the courtyard of the Shinpukan is a highly vertical sculpture that depicts the force of life rising from the ground, and its vector is directed from the centre of Earth to the universe. The work called “Direction #289” displayed in the store is painted with paint which drops run on the sculpture by the force of gravity, which is also directed towards the centre of Earth. Then, plants try to defy gravity and grow towards the sun. I think it's interesting that these forces that are different in direction exist together in the garden as well as in the store, and you can enjoy it from that perspective.

— The space of (THISIS) SHIZEN that you produced forms the outline of the store’s concept, and the interpretation of nature can be an opportunity for each of us to broaden our view of nature. What kind of store do you think it will it be in the future?


The Radical perspective of now
starting from (THISIS)SHIZEN

For the interior of the space, I put as little design as possible. The fixtures are made of materials that feel inorganic, such as mortar, stainless steel, and glass, and they are placed according to their functionalities to match the space. By removing decorations of the walls and ceiling and leaving them untouched, I aimed to to create a space where artworks, plants, sake and soil exist as the only things. My intention was to make it look like the plants were the main part of the space, but the way I put them together might seem a little insane (haha). But I think it's a message that we must go back to the radical side of things, and I like that. That was what motivated me to participate in this project. I think it's going to be interesting because it has tuned different from the other commercial stores. I can't wait to see what kind of store it will become in the future.

Photography by Kohei Yamamoto


Kohei Nawa
Sculptor / Director of Sandwich Inc.
Professor at Kyoto University of the Arts
Born in 1975 in Osaka. Based in Kyoto. After he acquired his Ph.D in sculpture in 2003 from Kyoto City University of Arts, he founded the creative platform Sandwich Inc. in 2009, renovating an old sandwich factory along Uji River in in Fushimi, Kyoto. The place keeps transforming to serve its purpose as a platform for creative production. In these recent years, he works on architectural and theatre project, along creating spaces and art.



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