Kyoto Field Trip Notes

I have for some time now been working on a project Hunting Wajima – that has set out to imagine the form and construction of furniture that will be made by a workshop in East Timor. The name of the project was itself a project – a sort of branding exercise. I set out to come up with a name that would point to the spirit of the design – a design-brief in two words as it were. This is different from what I have done for another project where I carved a portmanteau word – Jaliangan – to define the form of a particular kind of contemporary architecture. An architecture of boxes and their jali like wrappers. Somehow very Japanese too.

NOTE: The Hunting Wajima Project is mentioned in a previous post: https://campaignprojects.wordpress.com/2015/02/06/hunting-wajima-project/

In the current phase of the project I am building on a proposition – Slatted Constructions (as posted here https://campaignprojects.wordpress.com/2015/09/06/slatted-constructions/). I want to design a furniture collection that does two things:
1. It explores the notion of slatted construction as a program, a way of building furniture.
2. It explores the typology of Japanese wood work as a source of inspiration and as a text to write into the program of Slatted Constructions.

The exploration of Japanese wood work has brought me to Kyoto, the home of and location of traditional wood work practice in Japan. I am looking not at the hard and pushy furniture products such as what I been seeing in the furniture shops and the traditional wood working Kojos. I am yet to see something inspiring. A few days ago I visited a workshop making extremely expensive (1 million Yen and above, or 10,000$ and above) furniture. Drawer units and tables. Very refined work but it left me untouched. I was excited to see the use of the elaborate traditional joints, but apart from that I was left cold by the obsessive pyrotechnics, excessive finish and shiny polish. I was looking for the rustic the natural and the truly old. So I have set out to document the marginal and forgotten. Pieces of wooden craftsmanship that are natural and light. The photographs here are some examples from that documentation.

Today I came up with the elements of a language – a typology of components:
Legs: I am documenting the forms of legs, especially that of low tables.
Endings: I am looking at the way members end, often flat but every now and then differently such as with a taper
Sizes: I am looking carefully at the sizes of linear elements, I am looking at the cross sections of the timber.
Intersections & Crossings: I am looking at how the linear elements continue beyond the intersections, for a bit more.
Lattice forms: I am looking at lattice form – the grid – which is more often a composition mainly of vertical slats.
Joins: I am looking at the way joins are formed.
Key wedge: I am understanding how the wedge in the joint helps the furniture achieve No nails/ No glue

I then had a thought today that CAD and CNC could be played with to sculpt the linear elements. The joints still occurring in the precise rectilinear locations.

I am doing some photography and also collecting images in Pinterest. You can see my collections and resources in the links below.

Japanese Joinery: https://www.pinterest.com/explore/japanese-joinery/
Kyoto: https://www.pinterest.com/faintvoice/kyoto/
Japanese bamboo Crafts: https://www.pinterest.com/faintvoice/japanese-bamboo-crafts/
Reimagining Nature: https://www.pinterest.com/faintvoice/wajima-forms/
Inspirational woodwork: https://www.pinterest.com/faintvoice/hunting-wajima/

A great Japanese and Japanese inspired furniture board: https://www.pinterest.com/rich_deboer/japanese-furniture-and-sculptures/

Video

The Book Wallah Project

I worked on this project in 2012.

A Masters in Social Design

I get the news today on Facebook that Ambedkar University Delhi is open for admissions to its masters program in Social Design. I resist the temptation to add an ‘at last’ to the title and move on.

You can see the Program announcement here – http://www.aud.ac.in/academic/programs/masters_programmes-2/ma_in_social_design-582

I go into my blog to find the posts I was publishing as I was imagining a new school of design to be started in New Delhi. It is 2008, I have just stepped down from the position of Program Director and am very excited to do new projects. I bump into the Vice Chancellor and his Advisor at the India International Centre in Delhi. They say they would like to set up a School of Design at a new university! Would I work on this?

In 2003 I had worked on a similar project with the Advisor (then Dean of Planning at Delhi University) – visualizing a School of Design for Delhi University. So we had a connection. And I had another pro-bono venture taking off as it turned out.

The new university, as we sipped coffee, had at that time only three employees. The two people I was with and their driver. I am excited and running red hot suddenly – and launch into how the future should be non-object, non-elitist and non-urban. At the end of half and hour they say – send us something. I come back and through Nov and Dec 2008 have my vision drafted. As I draft my thoughts leak out into my blog – so I assembled that stuff, plus a paper I published on ‘service design for India’ below.

The vision was – an integrated UG (4 years) in Social Design, and two PGs (2 years) in Service Design and Social Innovation. You can see the documents and the program structure of the three programs here – https://sites.google.com/site/faintvoicesite/

You can see the argument for the vision here (a conference paper I published with Liz): The Social for India

Yes its now a PG in Social Design – but its great that its non-object, non-consumption focussed and focussed upon social engagement.

I am chuffed/ this is great news to start the day/ wondering about the curriculum! And so it goes.

New Design School at Ambedkar University Delhi

Nov 10, 2008

There is to be a new School of Design in New Delhi. This will be in the new university – AUD or Ambedkar University, Delhi. See link below to the site of the university.

The School of Design

Nov 10, 2008

I wrote this in October – as a starting of a vision document for the Design School (AUD)

Design School Vision

Nov 28, 2008

I finally started writing – the tool kit for a new School of Design. A tool kit because a vision is so self aggarandising. Tool kit is so much more participative. For now the tool kit has three parts – a way to do a take on design.

Integrated Design

Dec 8, 2008

I have been looking at the Bachelors in Integrated Design offered by the Koln International School of Design. This means I have considered it from many angles and there are many things I like about it.

A New School for India

Dec 9, 2008

So I ask the question – can a design school be set up which lets go of its professional anchorings (in the art and design framework ) to focus all its energies upon this population of people?

Design Education for the future

Dec 10 2008

Such a design school then offers design education along two lines: Service Design and Social Innovation.

Social Design it is

Dec 22, 2008

I have just come back from India. And from Presenting the School of Design vision. For now its all go – and that is really exciting. In short the vision argues for three new kinds of courses: …

And for the future >>

Service design for India

July 15, 2009

Soumitri Varadarajan – Service design for India: The thinking behind the design of a local curriculum | Re-public: re-imagining democracy – english version