Time can’t be stopped, altered or predicted. But two contemporary designers with a thirst for innovative expression just came up with a new way for us to see it happen.
Toshiya Hayashi and Hokuto Ando are the experimental designers behind we+, a contemporary design studio based in Tokyo and represented by Gallery S. Bensimon in Paris. They combine unconventional materials with new technology to shift traditional approaches to products, installations and graphics within the design industry. We’d like to introduce their latest project, Drought, which they exhibited earlier this year at Gallery Rossana Orlandi during Milan Design Week. At first glance, Drought is a chair with a minimalistic, linear frame. But take a closer look and you can see that it has a totally unexpected texture.
The unique shapes that pepper the chair’s surface tell a story about time. Hayashi and Ando challenged themselves to embody the intangible process of time in a static object, a project that they framed around something we use every day: a chair. By using a dehydration process that occurs naturally over time, Hayashi, Ando and the rest of we+ studio produced Drought, a bronze chair with a porous textural quality similar to volcanic rock.
The chair’s original mould was made out of translucent white wax and marble-sized spheres of extremely absorbent resin. As the mould dried over time, the resin shrank down to a tenth of its original size and slipped out from the wax, leaving behind countless holes and hollows throughout the entire form. By then casting the final version in bronze, Hayashi and Ando managed to maintain the integrity of a conventional chair, despite the perforations left behind by the dehydration process.
As is often the case, time’s effect on Drought was thoroughly transformational. The chair looks dry and brittle, with a texture reminiscent of the air pockets in volcanic rock left over time by lava as it cools. Concepts of strength and fragility come to mind when viewing the contrast of the chair’s sturdy bronze structure and the perforations that appear to have eaten away its linear shape. Each intricate recession in its surface represents an absence; these hollows are small parts of the chair that has disappeared. We are left with a feeling associated with droughts, a longing for the small pieces of the chair that are missing – the pieces that could have made it whole. As a result, Hayashi and Ando’s unique project confronts viewers with a real example of time’s unexpected processes.
Words by Eimi Tagore-Erwin
Photographs by Masayuki Hayashi