“Manga”, in Japanese, means comics which are the continuous stories as told with drawn grids on paper. They are deeply rooted in Japanese culture, and their earliest form can be traced back to the Ukiyo-e from the Edo period. This April, Nendo has created “50 manga chairs” for the New York design gallery, Friedman Benda, hoping to introduce more people to the Japanese manga culture, as well as to transform it into something a little different.
Using the 50 chairs as comic strip grids, they act as the basis for various comic lines, creating forms such as the speech bubble, the effect line, and the facial expressions on characters, such as “sweat” or “tears”. These expressions, which have always been flat, are now presented in three dimensions. In order to avoid the imagination being limited, due to the rigidness of the materials, “a complete mirror finish is opted for, which generates new spatial layers as the mirror surface reflects the real world, just like manga does”, as Nendo’s founder, Oki Sato states.
It is no longer surprising to see high quality and high quantity production by Nendo, but their particular concepts, which are always naturally integrated through the deep understanding of their Japanese culture, and then executed with a soft and attractive way, truly earns them even more respect. This series of works is currently exhibited at Salone del Mobile 2016, where the 50 chairs are neatly arranged within the courtyard of the old convent, Chiostro Minore di San Simpliciano. During daylight, the sun hits and casts a range of shadows on the ground, bringing the chairs back to a two-dimensional-like space; yet, when the yellow lights are turned on at night, each of the squares become little grids, and look as if they are in dialogue with each other. With the stories held within each chair expressed and then released, the whole scene gives viewers a fun and fascinating experience.