Exclusive Interview Curiosity

       Curiosity is a Tokyo multidisciplinary studio founded by Renowned French designer Gwenael Nicolas. The studio continues to redefine the boundaries of design, from interior design to architecture and product design. Not in an abstract way, but by working with a large number of companies and customers to create new products, develop new materials and define new design logos.

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Yinji 1:What kind of opportunity made you choose to establish CURIOSITY in Tokyo?
Curiosity:In Tokyo I was planning to move into the future a place was I would not been asked “why" all the time I present an idea but “how”. Tokyo is a place where past present and future co-exit in harmony and disharmony, this tension is a source of inspiration. There is a sense of timelssness that is very rich for creativity as all references can be interpreted in different ways.Surprisingly there is not mainstream of ideas but sort of paralleled world, meaning you can create your own word and bring individual to share your values and build something.
       I feel Japanese culture is a good filter to experiment and implement ideas and thinking from all around the world. I was able to create in japan a network of collaborators, suppliers, artist and artisans form traditional crafts to high tech industry and digital creators. So we constantly experimenting different ideas, so when the project comes we already have new possibilities ready that sometimes takes years to develop.


Yinji 2:Your diversified design covers a wide range. From architecture, interiors, products, furniture, packaging to planes, how do you master diverse knowledge backgrounds at the same time?Can you tell me your growth story?
Curiosity:Well maybe I am just “curious “…. Honestly it is very difficult to reduce creativity and ideas in a project to a specific type of design. Coming to Japan I was really impressed with the work of Issey Miyake, as all its creations, though very diverse from interior to fashion and perfume had one think in common. There was the best in their own category. So, I am trying to follow that path though it is not my brand but trying to find the best in each field. Actually, the multi-platform work inspires each other in surprising ways.
       Everything is seamless and totally integrated, where is the line between architecture, interior and the choice of a flower on the table. It is just life and we must embrace everything at once to create a situation where mind can share a moment and a space. What do you remember most the architecture or the soft touch of a bed sheet? Both contribute to the creation of a moment.
       Design is about space and time, when you create something first you have to ask yourself: shall this object exist, or shall it disappear. This define space and time and the relation with the viewer. Sometimes it is more effective to make something disappear than trying to make it real with strange shapes. It is time to stop re-designing objects as we apprehend the existing typology but question the existence itself. Fusion is very important factor to combine different objects into one, digital mobile devices become so but thinks can apply to products and space. The “Sen series” I designed for Agape, the Italian brand, applies this rule. By combining all functions into a single shape the objects become stronger but disappear.

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Yinji 3: Why did you take over the design of Sorano Hotel? What moved you the most about this project?
Curiosity:Sorano Hotel was an opportunity to work with an independent team, a client who does not have an history in hotel so in a way it was a challenging project. An amazing opportunity to propose ideas and avoid preconceived ideas. Also Tokyo does not have such location, an hotel in front of a park with an infinity pool.


Yinji 4:Why did you choose the triangle shape for the hotel entrance?
Curiosity:Sorano Hotel to become a destination, it was crucial to create a strong feature, an icon that would symbolize the SORANO HOTEL. The idea of a resort hotel so close to Tokyo was translated into this tent shape, that would invite you to rest in the mountains that are just behind.
The hotel is part of a larger project, so the hotel itself is inside a building. I wanted to recreate an architecture inside the building to control the proportion and perception of place and totally separate it forms the large structure.
The lobby is very important place as it is a gate between the urban context and the large park in front of the hotel. In 15 meters crossing the lobby you feel totally immersed in the greens parkland forget the city. When designing a space you have to surprise the visitor but at the same time use cognitive elements and the memories. Though the design is very impressive it uses a very simple language, the vernacular roof shape.


Yinji 5:Sorano Hotel chooses to use wooden structure, is it influenced by Japanese aesthetics?
The hotel concept concentrates on the wellbeing attitude: so, we concentrate our attention to use natural materials, form the wood to translucent fabrics and washi paper work. The esthetic is very much influence by the traditional ryokan and the delicate wood work you can find there, as it brings warmth and softness, that contrast with the impact and somehow dramatic setting of the hotel. It really feels the hand of the person that build the space, the structure is kept open and details are clearly visible, the sense of luxury comes from the intersect quality of the making and not added decorations. Curiosity design can be described as textured minimalism, as very few materials seems to be used but actually we have a large palette of textures mostly created specifically for the project. That you discover as you walk through the interior, sit at the table and rest in your rooms.

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Yinji 6:How did you realize the beauty of light and shadow inside the hotel?
Curiosity:Light and shadow is crucial in my work. A play of hide and seek! Again, it is the intention to show and hide things. Shadows can make a space very dramatic and a warm light can soften that space. Working in Asia, I learn how to create spaces in shadows, and with shadows, and that tension a create depth and real multi-dimensions perception. When an interior is widely open to the exterior, you have to play with different elements of the changing light all day long, a strong sun has the same power as a dark night. Indirect lighting is something I discover in Japan, as you do not light the dark surface but make as if materials themselves shine the light through, even a stone wall.


Yinji 7:How do you define a resort hotel? What do you think is necessary for an excellent resort hotel project?
Curiosity:A resort hotel in Tokyo is actually very strange that why it was so interesting. Usually there is the notion of contextuality, a feeling of place which usually apply when you are in Bali or in the mountains. But I wanted the visitor to totally be disconnected from the place and really feel transported in a different location. The situation with the open space of the large park in front of the hotel was ideal to create that effect.
       In Japan, we have the ryokan which is for me the ideal resort place, because not only of the location, the interior but mostly the design of time. There is a rhythm and it is actually very controlled, you arrived, change clothes, rest for a while, go to onsen (hot spring), go to dinner, you come back the room totally changed, etc,..
       It is great inspiration because you have to create a different moment, design of time and not only design of space. So designing a resort is imagining all those moments and happenings and create the canvas that surround those events. I actually just completed a project “SEN RESORT“ in Hakone, which we created the concept, produced and design. I choose a river and created a series of sceneries where each function of the resort is carefully implemented, as the resort, villas, restaurants, are organized along the water falls, rivers streams, mountains sides. Each place become a moment of wonder and renewed discovery.

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Yinji 8:What is the future design direction of CURIOSITY? Are there any criteria for your selection of projects?
Curiosity:The mission of a designer is not limited to the creations of design but the context of design itself. Like the “SEN RESORT” we created, we become producer, conceptor, initiator, architect, food coordinator, and botanist. If you want to have a complete understanding of a project it is necessary to be at the very beginning with clear vision and intention. Also behind involved and interested in all aspects, this project was created to prove that ideas are the initiator of all. Working like a magnet curiosity initialize ideas and projects that aim at connecting with new partners, clients, creators and artist. We create a context where all can express their vision and talent from business opportunity to creations.The creative process is a very long path so I would say it is more important to choose the right partner more than the project itself.

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