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Milan Design Week 2019: New Expression of Comfort Created by nendo × DAIKIN —Part 1—

Oki Sato, nendo CEO and Chief Designer, and Koichiro Seki shared their thoughts on the planned exhibition at Milan Design Week.

An installation evoking a breeze in movement of light and shadows
—Visualizing shapeless air through design

Koichiro Seki, Leader of the Advanced Design Group (Seki):
Last year, nendo and Daikin collaborated to exhibit prototype designs of “air lids,” which refer to “lids like air” made from the high-performance fluoroelastomer DAI-EL.
In 2019, we are holding another exhibition at Milan Design Week under the title of “breeze of light.” Mr. Sato, could you tell me what the key point of the exhibition is?

Oki Sato, nendo Chief Designer (Sato):
The exhibition is themed on air itself. Air is intrinsically invisible but that shapeless state is visualized through design, and in doing so people experience a new feeling of air.

I see. I completely agree with your thoughts as the Daikin Design Group is working hard every day to make invisible air beloved. What do you think is the most interesting part of the exhibition?

The most interesting part is an installation placed in a large space of about 18 meters long and 32 meters wide. It uses 115 spotlights and about 17,000 flower-shaped polarizing films to suggest the movement of a comfortable breeze with only light and shadows.
Every single part of the installation, such as position, height, and direction, must be designed accurately. Any misalignment or failure could ruin the artwork. Creating that installation requires vigilance.
We rented a warehouse in Tokyo more than six months prior to Milan Design Week and have repeatedly tested full-scale mockups. Similar tests in Milan have been taking place in February. This year is unprecedented in that onsite preparation for the event is starting earlier than usual (early March), and the preparation period for the exhibition occurring over several days is more than one month.
This enormous amount of energy of ours may well be the single most important factor in delivering an inspiring exhibition (laughs).

Design conveys creators’ beliefs and commitment to users. In that sense, I believe our strong commitment to this installation will certainly reach audiences. I hope many people will come to the exhibition to experience it firsthand.

Connecting creative dots to draw a line
—Presenting a new way of thinking at the nendo × DAIKIN exhibition

Thanks to your high reputation, our 2018 exhibition welcomed 30,000 people, which accounted for 10% of the roughly 300,000 Milan Design Week visitors. It also attracted an avalanche of media attention, resulting in being media coverage by many distinguished design and interior media outlets in Europe. What do you think about the purpose of the air-themed exhibition with Daikin?

Last year, we exhibited kitchenware lids to showcase features and benefits of DAI-EL through design and created a sensation.
As I said earlier, this year we are focusing on air itself to test the possibility of design. The theme is larger in scale than last year’s theme of “material born from air” created by Daikin.
I hope nendo and Daikin will be able to leverage success in 2018 and connect creative dots to draw a strong line in the second year of collaboration.

At Daikin, we aim to display our worldview at the exhibition. Could you tell me your thoughts on the significance of companies such as Daikin participating in Milan Design Week?

Fuori Salone began in the 1960s as an international furniture fair and has gradually come to include design subjects overall. I think it is no longer just a place for trading goods; it is a forum to communicate a new way of thinking.
Daikin air conditioners are already well known in Italy, but the exhibition will help you convey your vision and the philosophy behind your products. This will undoubtedly make your brand even more loved and admired among the people.

I strongly agree with your idea that Milan Design Weak is a forum to communicate brand. That’s why we are committed to participating in the exhibition. It provides an opportunity to experience a brand using right brain intuition. Do you have anything else that you find fascinating about Milan Design Week?

I opened nendo’s office in 2002 as a designer, and we have participated in the exhibition every year since 2003. While we may have failed at times, those failures have given us opportunities to grow.
I hope we can contribute in some way to the event through this year’s installation in return for all the benefits we have received so far.

Designers are required to have the ability to understand and identify with others’ feelings

The Daikin Design Group’s mission is to feel, imagine, and visualize invisible air. Could you share your thoughts on air to conclude this interview?

A big difference between an artist and a designer is that the former is active while the latter is passive. In other words, designers cannot start a project without a request from a client or materialize an idea without a partner’s help. Therefore, designers are required to have the ability to understand and identify with the thoughts and feelings of others.
Understanding unspoken thoughts of others in a room is described as “reading the air” in Japanese. Lacking this skill, I often unintentionally create awkward moments at meetings with my clients. I wish I could improve on this a little more (laughs).

That perspective from you surprises me, but it is a significant subject. Understanding non-verbal communication and reading the atmosphere largely depend on human emotions, and thus solutions should be provided through design, not through technology. The unspoken communication at Milan Design Week will be, in a sense, the emotions and excitement felt through the facial expressions and comments of the people viewing this exhibition. For this reason, I will pay special attention to visitor reactions.


Milan Design Week 2019 “breeze of light”
DATE: 10th (Wed) - 14th (Sun), April, 2019
VENUE: “TENOHA MILANO” Via Vigevano, 18, 20144 Milano Mi Italy

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