Nendo and Arsham Break to Make

Japanese design firm nendo and New York-based artist Daniel Arsham played around the concept of “nendo makes. Daniel breaks.” for the Milan Design Week and showcased their endeavour to the public.

Titled Break to Make, the exhibition, supported by the Friedman Benda art gallery, intended to highlight that destruction is not strictly negative and can be used to create new designs.

“After nendo creates objects with no intended use, Daniel produces new functions by breaking them. From a bathtub-like form, a loveseat emerged; from a long and narrow block, a bench or a stool; from a tall, square form, a console table was revealed. The pieces are coloured in pastel tones, typical of Daniel’s work,” explains nendo of his work.

The theme that has long dominated Daniel’s practice, “Fictional Archeology,” refers to the partial breaking of everyday things to transform them into “excavated” artifacts. In traditional Japanese craft, on the other hand, the idea of “creating to be broken” is honoured, as displayed in the easily dismountable joinery of wood construction or in barrels made of just wooden planks and held together by a hoop.

This theme of “reverse-engineering from breaking” is often explored in nendo’s work as well.

“An artist who expresses present objects as past artifacts, and a designer who makes present objects that anticipate the future. The collaboration may be seen as an overlay of these two contrary perspectives,” says nendo.

Arsham says,”Everything that exists today will become a relic, yet when we think about decay or deconstruction, there is a sense that is not beautiful or useful. Through this collaboration, we focussed on creating functionality out of what is broken.”

On display at the Nendo Milan office, the collection consists of prototypes made from styrofoam.

“We used styrofoam to create prototypes as it allowed for freedom to explore the act of breaking,” Arsham explains and Sato adds that prototypes would later be moulded with plaster and have a coating applied to protect and strengthen the pieces.

“In Japan, Styrofoam is one of the materials recycled at dedicated facilities with a high recovery rate, similar to PET bottles and corrugated cardboard,” says Nendo founder Oki Sato, on why this process is not a waste of materials but can be viewed as finding more ways to use a certain material.



Client: Friedman Benda

Collaborator: Sayaka Ito

Photographer: Akihiro Yoshida. Takumi Ota

Information and Images: Courtesy nendo