By Maria Cristina Didero
An artist who creates by breaking, and a designer who creates things to be broken: American artist Daniel Arsham and Oki Sato of Japanese design firm Nendo have engaged in a dialogue spanning over four years, culminating in their latest collaboration titled ‘Break to Make’, debuting at Milan Design Week 2023.
Their collection of works transcends the boundaries between art and design, showcasing each designer’s specific yet uniquely poetic approach to materials and form. Nendo’s minimalist and precise forms are given new life by Arsham, who deconstructs and transforms them into functional and playful works, each piece telling a unique story of destruction and rebirth.
This intersection of two opposite perspectives is a hallmark of the collaboration. Arsham’s expression of present objects as past artifacts is counterbalanced by Nendo’s ability to create present objects that anticipate the future. The resulting works invite viewers to look beyond the surface and embrace the beauty of transformation.
Nendo’s streamlined designs are reinterpreted by Arsham through his unique ‘eroded’ approach: ‘After we create objects with no intended use, Daniel creates new functions by breaking them,’ says Sato. For instance, Arsham hammers a bathtub into a love seat, or carves a bench from a narrow block. ‘[We are] an artist who expresses present objects as past artifacts, and a designer who makes present objects that anticipate the future. The collaboration may be seen as an overlay of these two contrary perspectives,’ adds Sato.
The special installation, staged at Nendo’s Milan office, provides a unique opportunity for visitors to witness first-hand the synergy between these two creative forces. ‘Break to Make’ is a poetic and harmonious exhibition resulting from the collision of different disciplines, transcending our preconceived notions of time and space. A series of customised items, such as T-Shirts and keychains, are available to be purchased on site. Don’t miss the short cartoon series with the two characters, Oki and Daniel, building and breaking things.