COLANI – Back in Japan

An exhibition in the Museum for Art and Design, Kyoto Institute of Technology, Kyoto, Japan: June 22 – Sept. 19, 2005

On the occasion of Germany Year in Japan, which the German President and the Japanese Crown Prince opened on April 4, 2005, we were launching a major exhibition on the futurist ideas of Luigi Colani, the German designer. It was held at the renowned Kyoto Institute of Technology – Kyoto is a city that reaches many minds, from Tokyo and Japan to the rest of the world.

The idea behind the exhibition: to showcase the work and commitment of one of the few German designers to become famous in Japan in the 1980s and take this as the lever to present his oeuvre as a whole while also emphasizing the impact of Japan in the work of a truly magnetic German designer.

The impact of Japan: the re-focus on nature, the wish to strike a balance between nature and technology, the emphasis on form. What makes Colani’s work so fascinating when seen through Japanese eyes is the way he transposes these principles onto the modern technological world.

He watched how water flowed. New shapes for faucets arose. He studied how birds flew. New aerodynamic ideas took flight. He investigated how the hand functions. And more ergonomic appliances were born. This dovetailing of nature and design is a centuries-old tradition in Japan. Which is no doubt why in the 1980s the Japanese admiringly termed his work the “Biodesign of Tomorrow”. Not to forget the Romantic qualities such shapes breathe.

The famed Kyoto Institute of Technology is an ideal partner for the exhibition project, as it is in a superb position to do full justice to both the technological and cultural implications of Colani’s oeuvre.

The Museum for Kunst and Design, Kyoto, Japan
The Kyoto Institute of Technology is located 1.5 km north of the famous Imperial Palace. The Institute was founded in 1899 out of the idealist wish to marry modern technology with humanist values. And as of the early 20th century, the directors set about collecting exemplary design objects in order to point up this linkage of modern science and art.

A museum was purpose built to house the collection that soon accumulated – and it is here that the Colani exhibition will be held. For all concerned it is an opportunity to internationally showcase and celebrate that key theme in Colani’s oeuvre, the wedding of technology and humanity.

The exhibition has four focal points:

1. Germany
Here we focus on the ICE high-speed trains, studies for Thyssen/Henschel and the Maglev projects. Moreover, this section also presents the streamlined trucks Colani has developed since the first oil crisis back in the 1970s.

2. The Futures Future
This section concentrates on Colani’s Ylem design manifesto that covers all areas of life and civilization, e.g., futurist living, the city and long-distant transport, production and the world of work in the future of tomorrow.

3. Japan
Here, we trace Colani’s influence on Japanese camera design. The exhibits document all stages in the development of the revolutionary Canon T 90, not to mention asymmetrical cutlery, spectacles, lighters, earphones for Sony and futurist airplanes and space gliders. The highlight: the re-discovered “Fuyo Robot Theater”, now on view for the first time since 1985.

4. Biodesign of Tomorrow
This section is an homage to the early Japanese Colani publication of the same name dating from 1983 which was issued by the journal “Car Styling”. On view are Colani’s science city in a human form for the Yangtse Kiang delta, biomorphic studies, and biomorphic ergonomics.

Colani Biography:
Luigi Colani, born 1928 in Berlin, is one of the outstanding trailblazers of organic design.
He became world famous in the 1960s with his eye-catching designs for cars, yachts, sanitation ceramics, and consumer goods. Under the impact of the oil crisis, in the 1970s he dedicated himself to creating alternative vehicle concepts – from compact car to giant truck that remain definitive to this day. At an early date, Colani emphasized the importance and evolutionary potential of design, thus often pre-empting major trends by decades.

In the 1980s he worked both in Europe and Japan, decisively influencing the path camera design was to take. Through careful observation, Colani derived many of his shapes from nature’s own unmistakable designs – he is firmly of the opinion that nature has already perfectly solved many of the tasks of design.

Exhibition schedule:
June 22 – Sept. 19, 2005
Kyoto Institut of Technology,
Matsugasaki, Sakyo-ku,
Kyoto 606-8585, Japan

As part of Germany Year in Japan:
Kyoto Institute of Technology
Goethe-Institut Kyoto
Kawahara-cho 19-3, Yoshida, Sakyo-ku
Kyoto 606-8305, Japan

Japan Management:
Miki Shimokawa

Exhibition concept and book:
Dr. Albrecht Bangert


Nippon Express

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