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ART PHOTO TOKYO

  • Exhibition Design
  • Client: AFT
  • Location: Chuou-ku,Tokyo
  • Usage: Art Fair
  • Graphic Design: neucitora
  • Construction: TANK
  • Floor area: 4502.05 m2(include Exhibition Area)
  • Structure: RC
  • Date of completion: Nov/2016
  • Photo: Kenta Hasegawa
  • We were commissioned to design an art fair venue using a vacant building in Kayaba-cho. The district had been one of the centers of the stock exchange during the period of high economic growth in Japan, but lost its vigor after the rise of the online stock exchange. The building used for the venue was set to be demolished due to redevelopment of the area in the near future.
  • Basically, the building was composed of a typical office building layout where the office compartments line up on both sides of the central corridor. You can find some good "retro" architectural details from the 70’s in some of the rooms, while there are other rooms littered with random bits and pieces, as if someone had to ran away under the cover of the night– it was more or less a "run-down" building. 
  • The exhibition would take place on the 1st to 3rd floors, and 8th to 9th floors, where art galleries and photographers exhibit their works at the existing 30-plus office compartments on each floor. The client’s request for us was to plan the circulation route, design the passage and the common area. 
  • It is interesting to note that there are two types of architectural or space design commissions; one is that the client asks you to design "contents" based on a certain story or a concept, such as in the case of shop design; the other is to design a "container" or platform" serving as a background, like art museums or houses. Although in my view, a container could also serve as a content at the same time. 

  • ART PHOTO TOKYO like a "trade fair" of photographic works; we were requested to design an exhibition venue where not only artistic photographic works, but also all kinds of photographic works, from fashion to advertisement, are displayed side by side in multiple packages. In other words, the venue was expected to serve a platform as well as packaged contents.

  • If they only wanted a "container", one of the options would be to paint the space white, like a typical "white cube" art gallery. But considering the existing state of the "run-down" building, we thought this idea was not interesting enough. 
  • We intended to create a situation where diverse views are treated equally in order to express the world of photography from advertisement to art in a single space. 
  • In addition, although the works were excellent, there was no coherent concept for the exhibition due to the lack of curation. Therefore, our aim was to create a neutral yet unique platform embracing the existing state of the run-down building as well as the diverse personalities and view of the photographers; it would be like a space where a luxurious fashion brand and a cheap drinking place co-exist side by side. 
  • Thinking from a contemporary Tokyo perspective, we intended to create a condition where diverse elements co-exist and are treated equally, while maintaining a sense of wholeness at the same time. 

  • In such condition, we attempted to incorporate as much contrast as possible– smooth/rough; light/dark; fine/coarse; cheap/expensive and more.
  • Since ART PHOTO TOKYO was a four-day event, an easy construction method and materials were preferable. For this reason, we decided to tube pipes used for scaffolding; they are cheap and can be assembled easily. We decided to finish them with shiny gold plating, because the roughness of the material and the joint detail did not match the atmosphere of the place dealing with high-priced art works; and also I didn’t want to exaggerate temporariness and roughness associated with steel pipes. The counter was made of steel pipes finished with gold; here luxury and roughness were integrated without negating each other. Then, the plywood countertop was placed on top of the steel pipe legs, creating the contrasting effect of smooth and rough materials. 
  • Entrance, reception counters, and sponsor booths were designed with lightness and elegance. In contrast, we maintained the rough texture of the stripped-off walls and floor of the stair and passage leading to the exhibition spaces on the second floor; the space is kept dark, illuminated only with ambient lighting for photo shooting, marked with the direction arrow sign.

  • The "white background" mentioned earlier can be made easily, and most convenient for exhibition use. But, the white and beautiful setting is sensitive and exclusive, where miscellaneous things are excluded as "noise".  
  • We wanted to avoid a situation where the corridor and the stair would look like a "back stage" of the beautifully-finished exhibition space. For this reason, we stacked left-over furniture pieces to make partitions in the first exhibition space on the second floor, intending to make it look as if the exhibition was installed in the back stage. 
  • We wanted to provide an ambiguous experience where we can hardly tell which parts are designed and which parts are garbage by reversing the "front" and the "back" from the beginning, because such space would accommodate diverse works in a more generous way. By doing so, we wanted to transform the existing corridor and stair into a space where all kinds of elements are juxtaposed, rather than simply treating them as circulation routes. By equally appreciating "what is designed" and "what happened to exist there", we hope to provide an opportunity where people develop an eye to discover and appreciate diverse things without preconception.

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