Architects spanning the 20th Century, including Frank Lloyd Wright, Frank Gehry, Daniel Liebeskind and Santiago Calatrava, have transcended name recognition beyond architecture circles and secured their place in popular culture. Their uncanny ability to push design and materials beyond predictable limits have transformed the urban landscape across North America and Europe. Tokyo-based Moriyuki Ochiai is poised to carry that movement into the 21st Century while representing an Asian variation on the theme through his gravity-defying interiors, public art, and structures that are at once futuristic and rooted in centuries-old Japanese aesthetic design traditions.
Tokyo-based Moriyuki Ochiai is poised to carry that movement into the 21st century … through his gravity-defying interiors, public art, and structures that are at once futuristic and rooted in centuries-old Japanese aesthetic design traditions.
“Our inspirations originate from our being captivated by the vivacious and lively beauty of nature and life,” Ochiai says from his Moriyuki Ochiai Architects studio in Tokyo. “There is influence based on the delicate sensitivity in which nature is represented in Japanese temples and gardens. My goal is ultimately to create a body of work that will become something that makes a viewer deeply understand the aesthetic traditions of Japan, as well as those in other countries where my commissioned works are displayed. One of my dreams is to win a commission resulting in a work on display in New York City’s Central Park.”
My goal is ultimately to create a body of work that will become something that makes a viewer deeply understand the aesthetic traditions of Japan.
Whether the client is a beauty salon (such as Spea in Tokyo), corporate structure, an educational institution or public installation such as Stargazing Tea Rooms or Crystalscape, he’s always bent on combining an unexpected mix of materials and colors intended to or commissions he’s striving to heighten the emotions of the viewer and imbue the surrounding environment with energy by creating shapes that appear to move and take on a life of their own.
“I design with the intention of making an installation that’s truly alive in that a viewer will perceive the whole space changes as he or she moves around the artwork or structure,” he says. “I use reflective material to create the effect of beautiful shapes that change continuously as people move.”
At Spea in Tokyo, for example, waves of polished aluminum that evoke silken human hair are suspended over the cutting area. One thousand linear feet of the metal are formed into swoops and coils that flow into braids and twists. As the sun passes across the salon’s window wall, the its rays “highlight” the aluminum, adding greater dimension to the tresses.
Although Ochiai believes older forms of public art and urban architecture holds an appeal for the public with their historic value, his art is a deliberate juxtaposition of nature’s timeless forms (such as plant life, beautiful hair and oceans) with unlikely materials that represent the future and time moving forward.
“I understand the essence of historical old things but want to create new things that set the tone for the future,” he says. “While older buildings and art forms are universally relatable, what enables them to be modern bringing in new materials and building approaches to new commissions. For example, while metal is a material far from the human skin, I like to use that material organically as if it were a living thing.