Chairs and couches are usually associated with home, security, comfort, and relaxation. That mindset may be considered archaic very soon, due to the new, arguably revolutionary design exhibition presented by the young, visionary tastemaker, Adrian Cheng, who founded the K11 Art Foundation, and renowned Japanese master designer, Shigeru Uchida.
The pair collaborated to present an exclusive design exhibition, called Wander from Within, featuring a new, artisanal furniture collection co-designed by Cheng and Uchida. Their collection, entitled Khora, consists of seats and tables attached to woven or gridded screens that cast patterned shadows. They are handmade, using Japanese bamboo and chestnut, and incorporate traditional lacquering techniques and Washi paper. The exhibition will run through April 8 at the Villa Necchi Campiglio, Milan, coinciding with the annual Milan Design Week, the Salone del Mobile Milano. The furniture designs explore the nuanced essences of the Japanese tea ceremony: peace, mindfulness, restraint, harmony, and quiet.
Uchida’s works are held in permanent collections at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the M+ Museum in Hong Kong, among others. Combined with Cheng’s unique use of fine detailing, the collection prompts a re-evaluation of space and nature-culture connections in sequestered settings.
The five-piece Khora collection was the last collection by Uchida-san, who died in November 2016 before the completion of the project. Thus, the Milan exhibition is also a tribute to Uchida and his exceptional career.
Guests at Wander from Within experience the development of the collection, including design concepts and a prototype of Uchida’s famous Tea Room, where he and Cheng held their final design meeting.
Throughout the journey, images and furniture are accompanied by haiku. On the opening night, master craftsman Chuzo Tozawa, who created the prototypes of the collection, was also present to demonstrate the compelling art of traditional Japanese craftsmanship, as it defines the furniture pieces.
“It’s a great honor to unveil my first furniture collection, co-designed with master designer Shigeru Uchida, during the Milan Design Week,” said Adrian Cheng at the opening. “Unquestionably, furniture has always evoked a personal sentiment: It means home, it means relaxation, it also means family time. But what Uchida-san and I wanted to explore together was something beyond that.”
The philosophy behind these furnishings infer traditions of the traditional Japanese tea culture, finding calmness in the state of sitting, as the mind focuses on the light and shadows of its immediate surroundings. The exhibition endeavors to craft spaces to allow the mind to both wander and focus, breaking away from internal and external enclosures.
“What Wander from Within celebrates is the spirit of mindfulness. and Japanese tea culture combined with true craftsmanship. With this collection, we are re-exploring the power and role of furniture, particularly through the simple act of sitting.”
Images courtesy of Adrian Cheng