Julia Lohmann

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Architecture

Friday, September 20th, 2013

Oki Naganode

‘Oki Naganode’
Installation
Seaweed, cane, aluminium
3.5m x 3.5m x 3.5m
Victoria & Albert Museum,
London, 2013

The ‘Oki Naganode’ is a large-scale installation made of Japanese Naga seaweed,
which I treated to remain flexible like a translucent leather and stretched over a
modular framework made of cane and aluminium. The installation showcases the
potential of seaweed as a versatile material for design and manufacture. It was
developed as part of my ‘Department of Seaweed’ residency at the Victoria &
Albert Museum from April to September 2013 and exhibited publicly during the
London Design Festival.

oki naganode web1 682x1024 Oki Naganode

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

Bound in a Tokyo Nutshell

Tokyo Capsule 2 Bound in a Tokyo Nutshell

Gero spent his last night in Japan in a Tokyo capsule hotel, the pinnacle of anonymous abodes. The tiny pods, stacked like bunk beds, twenty per hallway, in who knows how many hallways on six floors, looked like leftovers from the film set of 2001 – A Space Odyssey. The light of capsule 5008 glowed like the eye of HAL. Guests in this men only establishment are issued with pale blue pyjamas and a towel and then left to their own devices in the maze of the hotel. There are communal TV lounges, baths, and infinite-looking washrooms full of mirrors, probably to counter claustrophobia. Most guests prefer to stay in their capsules though, entertaining themselves with a small TV set with channels ranging from traditional Japanese pottery to hardcore Japanese porn.

Tokyo Capsule 1 Bound in a Tokyo Nutshell

Capsule 5008

Tokyo Capsule 5 Bound in a Tokyo Nutshell

Somewhere in the infinite washroom

Tokyo Capsule 4 Bound in a Tokyo Nutshell

The ever-present ‘No Yakuza’ signs

Friday, November 16th, 2007

Naoshima

The contrast between our present location and Koyasan could not be greater. Naoshima is an island dedicated to contemporary art. It is home to the museum/hotel/spa complex of the Benesse foundation and the Chichu Art Museum. Both buildings were designed by Tadao Ando.

The Benesse House and Benesse House Annex could easily have been the setting of a James Bond movie. The three main buildings are set into a hillside with the top part, called the Oval, only accessible via a small monorail. Benesse hotel guests can roam the art collection until 11pm before retiring to their rooms located conveniently inside the museum.

naoshima oval4 Naoshima

naoshima oval1 Naoshima

naoshima oval2 Naoshima

naoshima oval3 Naoshima

Chichu Art Museum is a collection of minimalist underground spaces custom-designed for the works of art they contain. They are lit entirely by natural light and provide a gallery experience unlike any we’ve ever had. The artists on show are Walter de Maria, Claude Monet and James Turrell. Near the museum is the Chichu garden planted with the same plant species as those found in Monet’s Giverny garden. Photography of the buildings is not allowed but they have a great website that gives information in English and shows the work: http://www.chichu.jp

Dotted around Naoshima’s Miyanoura Port are various buildings belonging to the Art House project. Some draw on traditional Japanese architecture for inspiration while this one is built using local reclaimed materials.

naoshima arthouse Naoshima

Last but not least, there are many sculptures along the shore of the Inland Sea, the most famous being the red and yellow pumpkins by Yayoi Kusama.

naoshima pumpkin Naoshima

naoshima julia pumpkin Naoshima

naoshima geropumpkin1 Naoshima

Monday, November 12th, 2007

Nara

Today we visited Nara, Japan’s first real capital. The city is home to the Todai-ji temple and its Daibutsu-den hall, the largest wooden building in the world. The temple burned down several times in its history and it is hard to believe the present Daibutsu-den is only two-thirds the size of the original building. The enormous bronze Buddha figure housed inside made us feel like ants in the house of a giant.

nara tempel1 Nara

The Daibutsu-den hall of Nara’s Todai-ji temple

daibutsu nara Nara

The Daibutsu, or Great Buddha. To give you an idea of scale: The golden figures in the halo are approx. human-size.

buddha outside todaiji Nara

Detail of a smaller wooden figure outside the temple hall

nara buddhist Nara

A monk blesses visitors

We found about a thousand other National Treasures roaming Nara’s temple district – deer! Considered divine messengers in pre-Buddhist days they are so pampered that they have lost all fear of humans. They’ll do almost anything for the special deer biscuits sold by local vendors.

nara deer Nara

A National Treasure

Nara model on lunchbreak Nara

Young supermodel between photo shoots

Nara feeding deer Nara

Biscuit bonanza

Nara Gero Hirsch Nara

Hunter-gatherer meeting a messenger of the Gods

Monday, November 12th, 2007

Kyoto

The steel-blue skies and heavy downpours in Kyoto provide a dramatic backdrop for the many temples and gardens in the north-east of the city. Like many other visitors we decide to brave the weather and explore the area until nightfall.

kyoto 1 Kyoto

kyoto 9 Kyoto

kyoto 10 Kyoto

kyoto 5 Kyoto

kyoto 7 Kyoto