this afternoon was the Kuma lecture, one that i have been highly anticipating. The poor guy was fresh off the plane from tokyo, must have been completely exhausted. He is a very low key accessible guy...i think if you saw him walking down the street he would not strike you as someone significant; one would not realize that they just passed a brilliant artist.
What struck me above all else was his incredibly unique vision of materiality. In a residence near the great wall (on the good side...as rodney dangerfield would say) he utilizes only bamboo throughout. As structure, he fills the interior of the bamboo with concrete, and facets metal bracketing on the outside. In the lotus house, he was asked to design something in the spirit of the Barcelona Pavilion...so he creates a checkerboard facade of thin travertine panels on the vertical planes. pretty incredible.
Much of Kuma's inspiration seems to come from nature, and existing conditions...all very site specific though. This allows his projects to take on a wide range of aesthetic quality....refreshing in a global architectural environment of Hadid Libeskin, Gheary, Meier, Mayne ect... these STARchitects could design something on mars and its going to look the same. Whatever, it is what it is...all im saying is that Kuma looks at form in a unique and sensitive way. I argue that this has connections to the Japanese culture in general. A heightened sense of craftsmanship and detail. This is present in all aspects of the culture, and it is something that i value and respect.
Much of the lecture was peppered with references to frank lloyd wright. Franky baby....he really made an impression over there on the other side of the globe. This clearly influenced Kuma greatly in his exploration of materiality.
Lastly, if there could be an aesthetic lineage to Kuma's work i would say it is the "one big idea" concept. Establish a design move in your work and carry it throughout...dont get messy with too many design forces all acting against eachother. This is stressed in studio often, and it is hard for me to push myself, and really sensor my work. something to keep practicing for sure. My old project manager had a quote that he printed and posted all over the office; i think it might stick with me forever:
"simplicity: complexity resolved."