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Exhibit unlayers the elements of Japanese design

Japan Unlayered, an exhibit located in the lobby of the Fairmont Pacfic, could be view as a soft sell PR exercise for a “soft building” development.

The multi-disciplinary exhibit located on two levels in the main lobby of the hotel is also an introduction to the architectural work of Kengo Kuma who is designing a curved residential tower, the Alberni, near the entrance of Stanley Park. This exhibition is sponsored by Westbank, the developer of the project. Westbank is responsible for some of the most interesting buildings in Vancouver such as the Woodward’s redevelopment and Telus Garden, so we can expect an impressive building that you and I probably can’t afford.

However, we can afford the exhibit in the Fairmont lobby, which runs until Feb. 28. It’s free.

The name, “Japan Unlayered,” comes from the Japanese philosophy of many elements coming together to create one experience – architecture, design and craftsmanship – in this case. While modern Western architecture often contrasts with the natural environment, Japanese philosophy is to compliment it. This is why Kuma’s planned building, the Alberni, has been called a “soft building.” You’ll see the incorporation of nature into design in this exhibit as well.

The most noticeable installation in the exhibit is the Floating Teahouse which is made of 130 square metres of Super Organza, a light see-through, polyester fabric made in Japan. The concept of transparency is echoed in the model design for the Alberni. The building lines curve allowing views of the scenery. Kuma is quoted as saying,

“You could say that my aim is ‘to recover the place’. The place is a result of nature and time; this is the most important aspect. I think my architecture is some kind of frame of nature. With it, we can experience nature more deeply and more intimately. Transparency is a characteristic of Japanese architecture; I try to use light and natural materials to get a new kind of transparency.” (Bognar, B. (2009). Material Immaterial: The New Work of Kengo Kuma. New Yrok: Princeton Architectural Press.)

 Continuing through the exhibit to the second floor there is a collection of contemporary kimonos.

There are two pieces by Nobuyuki Tanaka, a lacquerware artitst, Primordial Form I and Inner Side-Outer Side II. Another contemporary piece on display is Wajue Washi by Hideki Taki. Washi is handmade paper made from natural fibres. Here it is stretched over a canvas.

The 1958 film Equinox Flower by Yasujiro Ozu is being screened in the lobby near the guest elevators. This family drama is not the first colour film in Japan, but it is the first colour film by Ozu.

Photography is represented by reproductions of the work of the Japanese American artist Yasuhiro Ishimoto. In this case the work is a series of photos taken at the 17th Century Katsura Imperial Villa, which is a world heritage site. Ishimoto’s photos emphasize texture, pattern and design.

You’ll also find a retrospective of the Kuma’s career. Incidentally, he is also working on the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Stadium.

Immerse yourself in the layers of art, design and nature by checking out this exhibit at the Fairmont Pacific Rim until February 28.

Where: Fairmont Pacific Rim, 1038 Canada Place

When: Until Feb. 28, 11 am to 7 pm

Cost: Exhibit is free

Shella Gardezi

Shella Gardezi is a writer and editor living in Vancouver. She loves to travel and created this site to share her love of British Columbia.

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