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3 August 2023
Young and modern, meeting point between rigor and beauty, it is already an icon
From architecture to product design, from public to domestic spaces: Toyo Ito explores all scales of design by experimenting with the behavior of structures in the transition from small to large, from private to public and vice versa. Not everyone has the talent to imagine it and the skills to do it, but Ito succeeds, and it is no coincidence that in 2013 he was awarded the Pritzker prize, the highest award for architecture. Born in Seoul in 1941, he moved with his parents to Japan and graduated in architecture at the University of Tokyo, the city where he founded his design studio. He has a very broad vision of architectural culture, and his buildings are never simple structures but rather condense formal and design reflections, technology, and contemplation. And the same goes for his furniture, featuring an approach that at first glance appears poetic and contemplative and then turns out to be rigorous and punctual.
Ripples was born in 2003 as an urban installation for the Roppongi Hills area in Tokyo: its first version is, in fact, in steel, aluminium, brass and copper. On the bench, the different materials, each with its own colour, are used to reproduce the effect of concentric centers which evoke the movement created by a stone thrown into the water. The world ripples itself leads us to another recurring theme of Toyo Ito’s approach: sensoriality. From furnishings to buildings, his works stimulate all the senses and in the case of the Ripples bench, touch and sight are the protagonists. The surface is, in fact, pleasantly irregular and invites the hand to perceive this movement of the material. The view is stimulated by the circular and wavy shapes but also by the now more intense now more delicate shades. In its original version, intended for urban spaces, Ripples therefore takes the form of an invitation to take a break and rest not only the body but also the gaze, clearing the mind and making room for contemplation.
In the same year, Toyo Ito takes the Ripples bench by the hand and accompanies it within the home thanks to a meeting with Horm. The company’s philosophy is to create emotions through furnishings, arouse amazement without neglecting function. An approach that immediately tunes in with the method of the Japanese architect, creating a surprising alchemy. In the transition from urban space to the home, Ito decides to revolutionize the bench without distorting it. The key is to replace metals with wood to protect the sense of movement, the ripple, the dynamics of color, and at the same time create a furniture that fits more softly and comfortably into an interior space.
Thus, was born the version of Ripples for Horm which in 2004 won the Compasso d’Oro in the furniture design category. In place of steel, aluminium, brass, and copper there are now different types of wood: black walnut, mahogany, cherry, oak and ash. They solicit sight and touch but at the same time, the concentric circles that seem carved suggest possible configurations for the use of the seat designed for moments of conversation for two or simple contemplation. In the transition from outside to inside, from metal to wood, the sculptural profile is not lost but rather changes its personality, becoming more domestic and informal but always of great elegance. Without neglecting the function, since the seats are finished by hand to ensure comfort and beauty down to the smallest detail. Ripples becomes a sculpture bench and is appreciated not only for its philosophical beauty but also for its versatility: from the private space to the contract, from the sleeping area to the living area, it is the piece of furniture that completes the experience of use of the environment as well as its overall decorum.
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