I went to TDB-CE(Tokyo Designers Block - Central East) in Hacchobori yesterday. At 8 - factory I met Sonia Chow who is a Canadian artist and graphic designer. There she had an exhibition of her magical lampshades called Uni-Light or Uni-La. Uni means a sea urchin in Japanese. She weaves Uni-Light out of colorful plastic cords and does not cut one end of each cord off, so a lot of thorns stick out from the bowl of lampshade. It looks like a sea urchin and it seems to be about to walk around. Very cute, curious, pop and kitsch.
She makes various sizes of Uni-Light. When I visited 8- factory she was weaving a very big blue one whose diameter is almost 1 meter and surprisingly the material is plastic tube.
She showed me some of her other works in her portfolio on the computer; book cover design, furniture design and its prototype, font design, jewelry design, museum catalogs, posters, company brochures(annual report)... etc. She has been working as a designer for almost ten years in Canada, since she was at university. I was very surprised to see her wide-ranging design work and was moved by her clarity to explain her own works. She always has unique ideas and tries to express the concept clearly.
As for furniture design I was impressed with a wooden rocking chair which idea was inspired by a cockhorse. There was a transparent blue chair called Jello Chair which felt and looked like jelly. There was also a wooden chair with back and seat both connected by spring coils in a way that when you sat down and leaned on its back you could warp your body as you like. It made me laugh. Yes, we could feel her sense of humor on her works. She does care about how her works feel, not only about how they look; how people feel or if they are happy when they use her furniture. Recently we see furniture design which has humorous sense and concept in furniture showrooms or interior magazines. I like this kind of sense. Her design goes along with this new wave.
Another important characteristic of hers is that she is not interested only in the 'design' of her works, but also in making them with her hands. She likes weaving and making things with her hands. She really feels happy making things. She seems to be always weaving something in her brain. I was moved by her attitude to her work.
She now lives in Hacchobori which is a town where old Japanese traditions and some landscapes of old houses and streets still remain. She told me that she would like to learn Japanese traditional handicraft. She is also learning Japanese language as she is interested in languages; she has studied French, Russian and Italian. I believe she uses her abilities as a whole effectively and with good balance; brain, heart, hands, and language.
Text by Kazue Daikoku(15th Nov.)
About the artist:
Sonia Chow is a Canadian designer. Her achievements include 18 professional awards for graphic design and furniture, and work in the collection at the National Gallery of Canada. She has a Bachelor of Design from NSCAD University (Canada). Ms. Chow has been living in Japan since August 2002.
Her website: www.soniachowstudio.com
Photo credits: All photos of the work are by Sonia Chow.
The photo of Sonia weaving is by Tadashi Iwamoto.
Images and furniture design are (c)Sonia Chow (2003, 2001, 1995, 1994). All rights reserved. These images may not be reproduced without the written permission of Sonia Chow.
About TDB-CE(from the official website)
TDB-CE is an art event on an urban scale that is going to take place in and around Chuo-ku and Chiyoda-ku in Tokyo (hence: Central East) from November 7-16. The concept of this event is to use old and empty buildings as art-space. The Japanese stagnating economic situation has led to a building vacancy-especially offices and warehouses- in the central-east area of Tokyo.
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