Japanese designer Yukihiro Kaneuchi recently unveiled a series of sculptural vases made from local sand. Dubbed Sand Vases, the four flower-container designs consist of a mix of crystals, renewable cork and sand from a nearby beach, all bound using waterproof resin. Elegantly shaped, they are the result of an exploration into typologies combined with Japanese games and architectural traditions. Becoming instantly fascinated with his work, I caught up with him to discuss his projects, past and present. Read below for the full interview…
Tell us a bit about the sport of Bou-Taoshi for those who aren’t familiar and how it directly influenced your work.
Yukihiro: Bou-Taoshi is a game.The rules are simple. Players make a heap of sand and place a branch in the centre, then each player takes turns removing sand, the one who causes the branch to fall loses. “Sand” vases are made through memories that I played this game on beach in my childhood.
The gradual process of life, by engaging and interacting with others through experience, is a very heavy influence to instill in the object of a coffee cup. How hard is the task of using inanimate objects to express life?
Yukihiro: When I designed “Tiny landscape in a coffee cup”, I held a coffee cup and I imagined this coffee cup’s life – who/where/how have used it. When a product is created, it is as though a new born, with no memory or understanding of the world around it. These relationships are formed through user interaction over time, the product “ages” and gains knowledge of it’s purpose in the world. The stain’s image is a representation of the products feelings, memory as the product ages through use.
Having exhibited your works in the UK, Italy, and Japan, how different do these countries react to your work? What kind of emotions do you try to evoke from those who see your work?
Yukihiro: I didn’t feel a difference. Recently, I [took] interest in a primitive emotion (meaning of product – How we develop products?,Why we need, and who? It may be like anthropology).
What is your concept of sustainable design?
Yukihiro: For me sustainable design is good design. It never bores us. To design good product means reducing trash.
For the westerners who are unfamiliar with Japanese customs, your work has a deeper meaning in not just the message, but also in the shape of its form. What can you tell us about the conic shapes of your creations and what they represent?
Yukihiro: I made “Sand” vases through discovering similar conic shapes in a children’s game ,a Japanese temple and ceremony. A game is Bou-Taoshi. The rules are simple. Players make a heap of sand and place a branch in the center, then each player takes turns removing sand, the one who causes the branch to fall loses. It is a common sight in several Japanese temples, where the conic shape represents where God first came in the mythological age. The sand heap is also considered to be an object representative of a divine spirit. The shape is also used in a ceremony for laying cornerstones, a process through which the building site is purified, though here, the sand is removed using a hoe.
What are some other themes or areas you are contemplating exploring in the future? Are there any particular ideas that you would like to explore but undecided on how to execute?
Yukihiro: I’m going to keep exploring a primitive form of product. Now I’m trying to make a spoon made of a shell.
Do you have any favorite Asian films or Anime?
Yukihiro: Su-ki-da (directed by Hiroshi Ishikawa) and Castle in the Sky (directed by Hayao Miyazaki).
When you were a child, did you want to become a designer?
Yukihiro: I wanted to become a carpenter.
Which project has given you the most satisfaction?
Lastly, any advice for the forward thinking creative out there that are experiencing roadblocks?
Yukihiro: An important saying for me is that “Keep walking” (Don’t stop, but running make us tired. Just keep walking).
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