February 23, 2012 - 6:00 pm
Blaine Brownell Lecture: “Matter in the Floating World” @ N-Dimensional Japan, University of Minnesota
January 15, 2012 - 12:00 pm
Blaine Brownell and Students Tour Japan, December 2011-January, 2012
Following Japan’s Tohoku earthquake—questions that designers and architects now face
The magnitude 9.0 earthquake and resulting tsunami and nuclear disaster that hit Japan last March created an unthinkable tragedy that devastated Japan’s northern Tohoku region. According to the Japanese National Police Agency, the triple-sided cataclysm killed more than 15,000 people, displacing some 100,000 children, and caused tens of billions of US dollars in damage.
Although Japan is no stranger to seismic events, the Tohoku catastrophe was Japan’s largest known earthquake, and one of the five most powerful earthquakes in recorded world history. Despite Japan’s familiarity with devastation and reconstruction – consider the 1923 Kanto earthquake, or the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 – there remain fundamental differences of opinion regarding the appropriate way to rebuild. The greatest argument concerns whether to emphasize a centralized or dispersed model of population distribution. [...]
Conversations with Leading Japanese Architects and Designers
It seems that Japan contains a higher number of internationally significant architects and designers relative to its geographic size than anywhere else in the world. Japanese designers regularly implement radical experiments in new materials and building systems that successfully address imminent energy and resource challenges. These technological achievements are combined with an acute awareness of the ephemerality of materials as well as an engagement with the “floating world” of changing cultural behaviors and shifting societal patterns.
In Matter in the Floating World, materials guru Blaine Brownell (author of the bestselling Transmaterial series) travels to the offices of twenty leading material and design innovators in Japan, including Tadao Ando, Shigeru Ban, Kengo Kuma, and Kazuyo Sejima, to find the connections between materiality and transience in their work. The dialogues in Matter in the Floating World are organized into four sections—lightness, atmosphere, flow, and emergence—that embody various approaches to materiality and evanescence in Japanese architecture and design. There is also a companion website that includes samples from the book as well as exclusive online interviews. [...]
Japanese architects and designers integrate materials and light.
Japanese approaches to light have long fascinated Western audiences. Novelist Junichiro Tanizaki’s 1933 book In Praise of Shadows articulated the unique qualities of Japanese light found within the shadowy recesses of traditional Japanese dwellings. Tanizaki claimed that the Japanese approach to illumination prioritized subtlety, smoothness, and depth—in contrast with the West’s stark treatment of light. In today’s variegated design culture, contemporary Japanese designers explore light in myriad ways, but this subtle and meaningful treatment of light remains a principal characteristic of Japanese design and architecture. The following themes of atmosphere, integration, dematerialization, and emanation describe common approaches used by Japanese designers who are particularly adept at harnessing the complex interplay between light and material.
April 17, 2011 - 5:00 pm
Blaine Brownell Lecture: “Substance and Transience in Japanese Architecture and Design” @ Minneapolis Institute of Arts
September 1, 2010 - 9:00 am
Blaine Brownell and Kaori Ito (Tokyo University of Science) Lead “Open Space” Summer Design Workshop @ University of Minnesota
February 5, 2010 - 10:55 am
“PET Wall” Project and Introductory Essay Featured in A+U
December 17, 2009 - 9:00 am
Blaine Brownell Co-Edited Space Design (Japan) 2009
June 19, 2009 - 5:00 pm
Blaine Brownell Lecture: “Sustainable Material Futures in Architecture” @ Architectural Institute of Japan, Tokyo