March 30, 2010

Lost in Translation


When this month's issue of Elle Decor arrived, I was thrilled to see a feature article about Tokyo and the city's thriving design sensibility within fashion, food, architecture and interior design.

What started out as a small fishing village in the 12th century, today's Tokyo has survived earthquakes, wars and citywide fires to become an enigmatic combination of ancient tradition and modern sensibility.

Two years ago, I had the distinct pleasure of spending a week in Tokyo.  Staying at the Cerulean Tower in the Shibuya neighborhood of Tokyo allowed a bird's eye view of this sprawling metropolis as well as daily interaction within one of the world's most fascinating crosswalks, Shibuya Square (yes, it's where the Starbucks was!):


Architecturally, three buildings left lasting impressions and should be on the "must see" list.  The Mikimoto Building, designed by Toyo Ito, is constructed by steel plates reinforced with concrete.  Due to the integration of the two materials, no interior structural supports for this nine story building are necessary:

The Prada retail store (designed by Herzog and de Meuron in 2003) in the fashionable district of Aoyama is a unique six story juxtaposition of steel and glass.  With three types of glass (flat, concave and convex) there is a constant interaction of movement between visitor and architecture.  With continuity between selling floor, private dressing rooms and interior displays the language of design stays congruent within interior and exterior facades:


On one of my last days in Tokyo, after all the stimulation of technology, lights, glass and steel, finding a peaceful solace at the Meiji Shrine was the perfect way to  close out my stay in Tokyo:

I was lucky enough to visit the Shrine during a wedding ceremony and as much as I hated interrupting a beautiful moment, being witness to ancient Japanese tradition was certainly a highlight of the trip:


It was as I was watching the procession that I found inspiration for my work: a beautiful pagoda inspired lantern

Coming back to the States, I quickly investigated where I could find similar lighting fixtures.  Below are some of my favorite pagoda inspired lanterns within the marketplace:



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