White Out: Tokujin Yoshioka

Japanese architect Tokujin Yoshioka brings his mesmerising visual wizardry to Australia for the first time with ‘Waterfall’, a three-month exhibition in Sydney.

Tokujin Yoshioka has created pieces for Issey Miyake, Moroso and Swarovski, but his reputation is based on more than his product design skills. In the past decade, the Japanese designer’s installations have transformed spaces into extraordinary ethereal environments. A highlight of events such as Design Miami and Milan Design Week, Yoshioka’s work has been introduced to Australian audiences for the first time with Waterfall, a three-month exhibition at Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation (SCAF) in Sydney.

Using ordinary materials, Yoshioka recreates visual atmospheric elements using nature as inspiration. Feathers appear as snow swirling through a space; millions of straws nestle en masse to form snow-white ice caves or a mirage in which clouds appear to rest on earth. But mimicry is not his aim. He wants to elicit the same response in people that they feel when encountering beautiful visions of nature.

The SCAF exhibition features ‘Water Blocks’ – benches made of optical glass so they appear to have been carved from water. The objects stand in a white gallery space surrounded by millions of translucent straws. The massed layers appear white, the way water particles or ice become opaque as snow or clouds. A Barrisol lighting wall accentuates the other-worldly qualities of the installation.

Yoshioka’s installation is a coup for SCAF, who fought hard to get him before an upcoming prestigious solo show that was yet to be announced at the time of print. “We were set on having him because he is going to become more famous and unavailable after that show,” says SCAF chairman Dr Gene Sherman.The work is a reconfiguration of previous installations ‘Tornado’, at Design Miami in 2007, and ‘Spectrum’, in Seoul in 2010.

SCAF has enabled Yoshioka to work with these previously devised concepts. “All his installations are site-specific so it won’t be the same but will be conceptually linked to what he has done in Milan, Miami and Korea,” says Dr Sherman. Shared with those works is an experience not easily forgotten.

Tokujin Yoshioka: Waterfall, 7 October – 17 December 2011 at Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation, 16–20 Goodhope Street, Paddington, Sydney NSW. www.sherman-scaf.org.au.

This story was originally published in Vogue Living Sept/Oct 2011.

Text: Madeleine Hinchy
Photographs: Tokujin Yoshioka Studio and Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation

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