With a model, you can share it with everyone and it’s easy for the client to visualise. With drawings, it can be a bit hard to read. You don’t understand how high the ceiling is, etc.
With renderings, it all looks a bit too finished. The client starts noticing small details and might start talking about how they don’t like a certain chair or similar. Models are more abstract and yet everyone can physically interact with the space, so it’s much easier to engage the client. I always think our clients are unique and can bring out something special in my work, so it’s vital to get them excited and involved early on.
Even if I feel bad for the person who has made the actual model, we often break it or change it during client meetings. We always have scissors and cutters ready. We would go “Oh, is this how you like? Let’s try and change it.” This gives them a real sense of being part of the process and of us working together as a team.
Apart from architecture, you also do a lot of product design. Can you tell us a little about these?
K: I’m mostly in charge of the products and work with some of our staff on these. When I was first asked to design a piece of furniture, I didn’t really know where to start. There are so many great furniture designs around, why not just get an ALTO chair? [Laughs] I really didn’t know where to start. But then I started thinking about the room as a site and the piece of furniture as a small piece of architecture and thought maybe I could contribute with something like a piece of furniture created for a specific space.
For example, terraces in Japan are small, but it is nice to have an outside space in front of your house. If there was a tree, people would want to be out and have a beer. And I thought I could make chairs for them to sit on or even a table. There is usually a railing on the terraces here, so I was thinking of something that could be attached to the railing of the terrace. That’s how the idea for the SkyDeck for Ishinomaki Laboratory came about.