Cersaie 2011 focuses on Japan, represented and investigated through the presence of two outstanding figures on the international architecture scene.
The most important moment of this survey is a lectio magistralis (Friday 23 Sept, 11.00) by Kazuyo Sejima. Sejima is a different sort of star whose success depends on personal charisma and intriguing works of architecture, masterpieces that reveal unexplored spatial possibilities. As director of the latest Venice Architecture Biennial, in 2010, she focused on experimental research and the human scale, excluding architecture that shouts about high technology at all costs. In 2010, a magical year for her, Sejima also won the Pritzker Prize, the highest honor for architecture, and opened the Rolex Learning Center in Lausanne, a revolutionary building that transforms a service center for students into a continuous landscape punctuated by gardens, hills and large circular windows. The second guest of honor at Cersaie is Kengo Kuma, creator of many memorable works, with constant research on materials like ceramics, bamboo and stone. He will illustrate his projects on Wednesday 21 Sept, at 14.00. In Italy Kuma has created, for Casalgrande Padana, the Ceramic Cloud, an installation made in collaboration with Alfonso Acocella and Luigi Alini. The project was presented at the event organized by Interni for the FuoriSalone in Milan in 2010, and then built in front of the headquarters of the company, inside a road junction. The CCC is a wall 7 meters in height and 40 in length, with a metal frame that supports special sheets of white porcelain stoneware. An idea that translates a solid ceramic material into a structure as impalpable as clouds. Today the collaboration continues with Old House, a typical country house Kuma has recovered and transformed into a center for encounters, exhibitions and events, as well as the historical archives of Casalgrande Padana. The building and its surrounding garden establish a dialogue with the nearby Ceramic Cloud. Like these architects, Japanese designers also stand out for their interest in dematerialization, lightness, a world in which objects are simply the reflections of an idea. To achieve this, intense research has to be conducted on materials, their characteristics, techniques and forms, to discover their potential and their possible applications. When the idea is to bring quality and attention to detail to the fore, combining tradition and innovation, Italian companies are the ideal partners. For Brix, Naoto Fukasawa has made Linen, a panel in porcelain grès that reproduces the patterns made by tofu on cotton fabric. Kaori Shiina, for Cisa, covers tiles with delicate, abstract patterns, like pixels, while Junzo Yamashita, for Disegno Ceramica, creates a washstand holder in steel, woven like wicker and bent around a bamboo column. For Flaminia, Nendo has designed Roll, a washstand formed by a single sheet of ceramic, as light as paper, that wraps to enclose and enhance the basin for the water. But the images that perhaps most clearly represent a truly innovative approach to ceramics are those of Tokujin Yoshioka. His Phenomenon collection, produced by Mutina, imitates and interprets natural images and textures – honeycomb, snowflakes, the veins of ice, rain – and through insertion of particles of extraneous materials alters the serial repetition of industrial work, creating images of great emotional impact. Alessandro Rocca